Construction of Ōsaka-jō (Osaka Castle) began in 1583 under the direction of General Hideyoshi Toyotomi, as a display of power after he had succeeded in unifying Japan. It is said that the castle was built using the labour of 100,000 workers and it was, at the time, the largest in the country.
Ōsaka-jō was the Toyotomi family castle until it burned down during the Ōsaka Summer War of 1615. In 1620 the reconstruction of the castle began, under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and by 1629 the castle had been rebuilt. Shortly after its reconstruction it was struck by lightening and most of the remains were burned down in a fire in 1868, just before the Meiji Restoration.
Throughout the years it has been the location of many important historical events, including the Winter Siege and Summer War of Ōsaka, as well as a battle between the Imperial Army and the former Tokugawa forces. As a result, there are now many legends surrounding the castle.
Until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the castle retained its original style. However, recent investigations show that almost all of the existing remains, such as the Otemon gate, date back to the Tokugawa reconstruction. The original Toyotomi family castle, which appears to have disappeared entirely, remains one of the castle’s many mysteries.
What stands today is a post WWII concrete reconstruction, which contains a huge collection of historical artefacts, including art and armour. The castle looms over the surrounding moat and is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot.
Visitors can take the elevator to the 8th floor, to enjoy impressive views over the city of Ōsaka.
Ōsaka-jō can be reached via the JR Kanjo line to Osakajo-koen station. Opening hours are from 9:00 to 17:00 with last admissions at 16:30.
- Information signs at Ōsaka Castle
- Wanderlust Pocket Guides – Best of: Japan
- Lonely Planet: Japan
- DK Eyewitness: Japan