Learn about Japan's bloody history and Osaka's ancient rulers at Osaka Castle. This romantic multi-tier castle stands on a 264-acre (106-hectare) block of raised and fortified land, and is one of the city's most iconic sites.
Built in 1583 under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the castle was integral in the Toyotomi clan's victory during the 17th-century siege of Osaka, successfully repelling an army of more than 200,000 soldiers. After suffering damage during World War II, the castle underwent a number of careful reconstructions to preserve its design.
Despite the extensive battle damage, 13 key parts of the castle remain in their original 16th-century condition. Take a tour to see these original features, which include the commanding Ote-mon Gate and the Sengan Turret, which protected the castle's southeastern side. Admire the stone lining of the Kinmeisui Well or ask about the Kinzo storehouse, which once housed the castle's treasury.
The castle rooms also have displays of artifacts collected from throughout Osaka's history. Amongst the items exhibited are 16th-century weapons, armour and farming tools.
Climb to the castle's observation deck for incredible views of Osaka's skyline. The views of the castle parklands are particularly spectacular in spring, when they are brightened by the pink blossoms of the cherry trees. Beyond these, you should be able to see the reflective skyscrapers that populate Osaka's Business Park.
Afterward, stroll around the quiet pathways and pleasant lawns of the castle gardens. Street vendors and taiko drummers can often be found here. Check to see if there is anything on in Osaka-jo Hall, an on-site entertainment stadium that hosts everything from orchestral performances to judo competitions.
Walk north to Sakura-no-miya-koen Park, which runs along the banks of the Okawa River. In summer, these riverbanks fill with crowds celebrating the Tenjin Matsuri festival. Watch grand parades, processions of lamp-lit boats and firework displays, all of which are in tribute to the patron god of learning and art.
Osaka Castle is located north of Osaka's center, just minutes on foot if coming from the Osakajokoen JR train station. The castle and its park are open daily, except for a few days at the end of December. Check the castle’s official website for details. The admission fee for the castle is waived for children aged 15 years and under. Most of the park, with the exception of the Nishinomaru Garden, is free to enter.