5 Must-See Spots in Osaka Castle
If you go sightseeing in Osaka, you absolutely have to stop by Osaka Castle. Here are some of the main attractions at Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park.
Osaka Castle is a landmark tourist spot in Osaka. Aside from Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park, the area where Osaka Castle is located is packed with many must-see places, including the neighboring Naniwa no Miya Ato (Naniwa no Miya Palace Ruins). Osaka Castle was built in 1583 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi (a samurai who held the supreme power over the state in the latter half of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 – 1603)) over the ruins of Ishiyama Honganji Temple, but it was destroyed by fire, around the same time as the death of Toyotomi, during the Summer Siege of Osaka. It was later rebuilt by the Edo Shogunate (which held power from 1603 to 1868) by burying several meters of it in soil. The castle standing there now was erected after the Edo period.
Gokurakubashi Bridge is a 54-meter bridge that was built across the inner moat of Osaka Castle. It was made of wood when it was first built in 1626, but it burned down during the Boshin War, a civil war at the end of the Edo period. The bridge that is seen there today, which is known for its loose arch, was built in 1965. It has become a famous spot for taking souvenir photos that capture the castle tower in the background. If you're there, you have to take a photo on this bridge!
1. Gokurakubashi Bridge
The splendid tower (called tenshukaku, it's a structure that symbolizes authority) was completed in 1629, but burned down due to repeated lightning strikes. It had remained in that state without getting rebuilt since 1665. Fueled by the strong clamor from the residents of Osaka and the large amount of funds collected at the turn of the 1900s, it was rebuilt in 1931 based on documents about it from the Toyotomi government, and Osaka Castle Park was also opened. Inside, this tower looks like a museum where you will find displays showcasing how the world looked back then with the help of dioramas and miniature figures, explanations on folding screens featuring scenes from the Summer Siege of Osaka, and a museum shop, among other features. The view from the observation tower at 50m above ground is also a sight to behold!
One of the main characteristics of Osaka Castle is the use of a large number of gigantic stones in its stone walls.
At the Sakura-Mon (Sakura Gate) in front of the main building of the castle, there are huge boulders, Ryuishi (right) and Toraishi (left), on both sides of this remarkable gate. The Masugata (square piazza) uses extremely large boulders to guard against the movements of enemy troops that had invaded the castle. The largest stone inside the castle is called the Takoishi (left in the photo), which literally means the “octopus stone”, and the third largest is called the Furisodeishi (right), which literally means “long-sleeved kimono stone”. You shouldn't miss them!
Sakura-Mon Masugata no Kyoseki
3. Sakura-Mon and Masugata no Kyoseki
Hokuku Shrine is a shrine that was built in front of Osaka Castle’s Sakura-Mon in 1599 to enshrine Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Known to be one of the most popular power spots in Osaka, this shrine is said to give worshippers luck in their careers. It is also home to the wonderful karesansui garden (literally, “dry landscape”, wherein water and mountains are depicted using stones) inside the Japanese garden known as Shusekitei. You must visit this shrine!
Nishinomaru Garden is a famous spot for cherry blossoms where you can marvel at beautiful sceneries in each of Japan’s four seasons. The impressive castle tower of Osaka Castle is also visible from this garden. Further, it is home to Senkan Yagura (Senkan Turret) and Inui Yagura (Inui Turret), as well as the Enshogura where gunpowder was kept, and the Osaka Geihinkan (guest house of Osaka).
5. Nishinomaru Garden
Right next to Osaka Castle, you will find Naniwa no Miya Ato, the ruins of the ancient imperial palace Naniwa. Here, you will see ruins from two eras – the Naniwa Nagara Toyosaki no Miya, the so-name of the early palace that was constructed from 650, and the latter Naniwa no Miya Palace that was built by Emperor Shomu from 726. The ruins of what was then a luxurious and gorgeous palace are kept intact at this place, so if you want to romanticize history, then this is the perfect spot for you.
Aside from the castle tower itself, Osaka Castle has a long list of other main attractions to see. So, go out there and enjoy the sights!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.