Facts About Osaka Castle That You Should Know Before Visiting
Osaka Castle is one of the best sightseeing spots in Osaka. However, there are certain things that not even the Japanese know about this castle, which has long been the stage of history. This article introduces some trivia that you ought to know before visiting!
Osaka Castle was built upon the orders of the then-shogun (military dictator), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 - 1598), in 1583. The splendid castle tower was originally built to represent the authority of Hideyoshi, but was burnt to the ground during the Siege of Osaka in 1615. The castle was then reconstructed by the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603 - 1867. Much of the remains, such as the Tamon towers, were rebuilt during this time period. However, the reconstructed castle lost its castle tower in 1665 due to thunder, while a huge portion of the castle interior burned down once again in 1868. The castle was then used as a military base afterwards, but the castle tower was brought back to glory in 1931, thanks to the strong desire of the citizens of Osaka. The castle as a whole was then reconstructed and restored, and is now the splendid, historical park that it is today.
When Was Osaka Castle Built?
Osaka Castle’s grounds have long gathered attention, and possess a number of historical remains, such as the group of Ishiyama Hongan-ji (fortresses of monks who were against samurai rule), who Oda Nobunaga (1534 - 1582) fought hard against for 11 years. The ground that the castle rests upon is the same as this fortress. According to hearsay, this land was chosen specifically according to feng shui (a technique where one reads the flow of the energy of the earth), which is why Osaka Castle is still said to possess high energy. Within the castle grounds, you will also find Toyokuni Shrine, which is known for its benefits in advancements in life and for being a popular power spot.
It is said that the castle tower that was built during the reign of Toyotomi was painted black, and then changed to white during the rule of Tokugawa. The walls of this castle tower are currently white, but these were once painted with black lacquer during the first few years that Hideyoshi was in position. A lot of gold had been used as tiles, so it was called “Sangoku Buso” (one that has nothing to be compared to) for its luxuriousness. The interior of the castle tower was also decorated with gold and silver, while each floor of the castle encased mountains of treasures.
The Honmaru (main area of the castle) and Ninomaru (next most important area) were mostly the same scale with those of today, but there had been an additional fortress surrounding them that was 2km in perimeter, which was created with stone and mud. Within this fortress, one would find the Sannomaru, where the daimyo and samurai resided. The cities of Osaka are said to have been created based on this type of structure.
Osaka Castle possesses stone walls, known to be the tallest in Japan. However, these walls were built during the reign of Tokugawa. Since the castle was reformed during the rule of Tokugawa (following Toyotomi), the stone wall foundations that Toyotomi had built can be found deep underground. Two stone walls in extremely good condition have been found so far. A project is currently in the works to excavate these walls. Visitors may not see these walls yet, but there is a possibility for them to be made public in the future.
The castle tower was originally built with wood, but this has been replaced with the iron reinforced concrete that we see today. The castle – the pride of the citizens of Osaka – was rebuilt with concrete in 1931. They used the then-latest method of construction to ensure that it would be a lasting monument. The third castle tower was built after the reign of Tokugawa. A large-scale reconstruction was conducted from 1995 - 1997. A lot of new techniques, such as elevators, have been incorporated alongside the reconstruction of old things, such as ornamental parts and the Shachi (killer whales).
There is no doubt that knowing these facts will make your trip to Osaka Castle more enjoyable!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.