Osaka Castle

From Jcastle.info

Osaka16.jpg

History

Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Osaka-jo in 1583. Hideyoshi, being the great battle expert he was, designed the most formidable castle ever built in Japan. One large moat surrounded the whole castle with only two ways across it. One of those was a small bridge that could be easily defended or even destroyed if necessary. The inner grounds which contained the large main keep were actually built 3 levels above the water level of the moat. Any attacker would have to scale three high stone walls and climb over 3 sets of turrets to get to the inner grounds. No castle is invincible and in 1615 it fell to the Tokugawa forces. Hideyoshi's heir, Hideyori, committed suiced before being captured. In 1620 Tokugawa completely renovated the entire castle and built a new main keep making the whole castle even bigger and grander than Hideyoshi's original. In 1665 the main keep was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. It was never rebuilt.


Visit Notes

This is a great castle to visit. Unfortunately, some people go straight to the main keep, see the museum and go away disappointed with the elevator and concrete. For some trips I haven't even gone in the museum. The basic layout of the castle is nearly in tact. There are several original gates and yagura and the stone walls are simply amazing. Take your time to enjoy everything Osaka Castle has to offer.


Loading map...


Gallery
  • Main Keep
  • Main keep and Masugata gate
  • Main keep seen from the Hime Gate.
  • Gokuraku Bridge
  • Inui Yagura
  • Otemon Gate
  • Sangan Yagura and Otemon Gate
  • Otemon Gate
  • Otemon Gate Watariyagura
  • Otemon Watariyagura Gate
  • Loops holes in the Otemon Gate
  • Large stones at the Otemon gate
  • Sengan Yagura
  • Sengan Yagura
  • Sengan Yagura and moat
  • Sengan Yagura
  • Sakuramon Gate
  • Rokuban Yagura
  • Rokuban Yagura
  • Aoyaguchi Gate
  • Ensho Storehouse
  • Gokinzo
  • Back side of the Inui Yagura.
  • Main keep seen from the Nishinomaru Bailey
  • North Shikirimon Gate
  • Dry moat around the Honmaru bailey
  • Honmaru Bailey dry moat
  • stone with wedge holes
  • Huge stone at the Sakura Gate
  • Sakura Gate
  • Kakushi Kuruwa Bailey
  • Inner moat
  • Inner moat
  • Main Keep and garden
  • Main keep
  • West Outer Moat
  • Main keep and inner moat
  • Outer Moat
  • Inner moat
  • Inner moat
  • Uchibori moat
  • Inner moat
  • Inner moat
  • Stone walls and inner moat
  • Osaka Castle seen from the Hotel New Otani
  • Kyobashiguchi Gate, "Higo Stone", the 2nd largest stone
  • Honmaru Empty Moat
  • Main keep seen from the Nhinomaru
  • Inner moat and stone walls
  • Exhibit of stone with kokuin
  • Exhibit of stone with kokuin
  • Main Keep seen from the New Otani Hotel
  • Stone from Osaka Castle that were originally buried
  • Stones from Hideyoshi's original walls
  • Map
  • Sanada Escape tunnel at the Sanko Shrine


More Galleries and Feature Pages

Osaka tamonyagura1.jpg

Tamon Yagura

(11 photos)

Osaka senganyagura6.jpg

Sengan Yagura

(6 photos)

Osaka inuiyagura21.jpg

Inui Yagura

(22 photos)

Osaka14.jpg

Enshogura Magazine

(6 photos)

Osaka night4.jpg

Osaka Castle Night

(11 photos)

Osaka sanadamaru1.jpg

Sanadamaru

(11 photos)

OsakaChiku1.jpg

Chikubushima Island

(36 photos)

Castle Profile
English Name Osaka Castle
Japanese Name 大阪城
Alternate Names Kin-jo
Founder Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Year Founded 1583
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, has Important Cultural Properties, National Historic Site, Special Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 5 levels, 8 stories
Year Reconstructed 1931 (concrete)
Artifacts Sengan Yagura, Inui Yagura, Kinmeisui Ido Yakata, Rokuban Yagura, Ichiban yagura, Enshogura, Gokinzo, Tamon Yagura, Otemon, Sakura mon, castle walls
Features main keep, gates, turrets, bridges, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access JR Osakajo Koen Station
Visitor Information Main Keep museum open 9am-5pm; 600 yen; Closed Dec 28-Jan 1
Time Required 3 hours
Website http://www.osakacastle.net/english/
Location Osaka, Osaka
Coordinates 34° 41' 14.60" N, 135° 31' 32.70" E
Loading map...
Admin
Added to Jcastle 1999
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 1997, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2024
Admin Visits December 1997; March 18, 2012; March 8, 2013; July 28, 2017; December 23, 2018; May 3, 2024


3.91
(66 votes)
Add your comment
Jcastle.info welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.


avatar

Matthew WardGunshi

5 months ago
Score 0++
Some exciting news for Osaka Castle fans: next year, as part of the usual special turret openings (spring, summer, fall), the Inui Yagura will be opened, apparently for the first time in about 10 years. I have never been in the Inui Yagura, so I'm very excited. In addition, as usual the Sengan Yagura and Tamon complex (the gatehouse and the Tamon turret it connects to) will be opened as usual.
avatar

EricShogun

5 months ago
Score 0++
Thanks! I'll go too!
avatar

RaymondWDaimyo

6 months ago
Score 1++

I went to Chikubushima (Lake Biwa, Shiga) in early October to check out some relocated structures from Hideyoshi’s Osaka Castle, following in the JCastle Shogun’s (Eric’s) footsteps. I’m sure in time he’ll update the Osaka Castle profile with photos that he’s already shared on his JCastle FB.

It was a real pleasure to be able to walk on and be surrounded by a piece of little-known Sengoku castle history, the relocated elements of the Gokuraku Bridge from Hideyoshi’s Osaka Castle. This bridge was built in 1596, spanning a moat which led to the inner parts of Hideoyoshi’s Osaka Castle. Some of the relocated parts of the Gokuraku Bridge now span the Kannondo Hall and Tsukubusumu Shrine at Chikubushima.

The relocated karamon which had fronted the Gokuraku Bridge was also quite impressive, particularly after its restoration a few years’ ago. On one of the signs on site at Chikubushima, it mentions that the Gokuraku Bridge from Toyotomi’s time was found on a painted screen of Osaka in Schloss Eggenberg in Graz, Austria. Apparently, this discovery was made in 2006. Incidentally, I also visited Graz in the summer of 2006, but I did not go to Schloss Eggenberg as I was more interested in the Landeszeughaus(Styrian Armoury), which has an incredible collection of suits of European armour and weaponry used in arming the Hapsburg’s soldiers in their border conflicts with the Ottoman Turks.

Anyway, I digress so back to Chikubushima. If you like karamons, it is worthwhile comparing this restored karamon at Chikubushima with other karamons in the Kansai region such as Nijo Castle’s karamon, Nishi Honganji’s karamon, and the relocated Jurakudai’s karamon (another one of Hideyoshi’s karamons) at Daitokuji. For me, I feel the karamon at Chikubushima is possibly the most colourful (but with less gold leaf than Nijo Castle’s karamon) of all the karamons that I have seen in Kansai. Perhaps, this reflects Hideyoshi’s penchant for collecting beautiful things for himself.
avatar

Matthew WardGunshi

5 months ago
Score 0++
I saw the pictures of the renovated karamon on this site's FB page. I visited Chikubushima before the renovation, and was really impressed by how beautiful it looks now! Anyway, it's definitely nice to have some relics of the original Osaka Castle to see.
avatar

Matthew WardGunshi

12 months ago
Score 0++
I went to that museum (which I found excellent by the way) several years ago, and it did indeed have great views of the castle. As you probably noticed, all of the views are through windows, but it seems that you can generally get pictures without glare if you put your camera lense close to the windows.
avatar

EricShogun

12 months ago
Score 0++
Indeed, I'll have to drop by again in better weather. I thought the windows seemed a little far from the railing to lean up against the glass but will give it a try next time! It's definitely a fantastic museum and reminds me a lot of the Edo Tokyo Museum too.
avatar

Matthew WardGunshi

12 months ago
Score 1++

I went back to Osaka Castle a couple of days ago, and spent several hours there. I always forget just how big it is--I ended up tiring myself out. This time, my mission was to check out all of the Important Cultural Properties, and I made it to all of them except for the Kinmeisui Ido Yakata... I either didn't know or forgot that you can't see it without buying a ticket for the main keep and waiting in line. There were a lot of mostly foreign tourists waiting in line and I didn't want to wait, so I skipped it. I haven't been in the main keep for a long time, so next time I'll have to check out those two. Also, the Tamon and Sengan Yaguras weren't opened (wrong season), so I'll have to try to catch them on my next visit.

Anyway, it was nice to see the lovely historical structures again. I think it was my first time to get up close to the Ichiban Yagura. I had also forgotten what nice and elaborate building the L-shaped Inui Yagura was. I also checked out the two rebuilt gates that are not Important Cultural Properties, and I got around enough so that I was able to see most of the structures both up-close and from across the moats. Also, lots of just wandering around to look for good views of the moats and stone walls, which is very rewarding but also tiring!

My impression of the main keep was the same as before--looks really nice from a distance and not so great from up-close.
avatar

EricShogun

12 months ago
Score 1++
Kinmeisui Ido Yakata, that's something I always forget about too. I haven't been inside the keep since maybe my first visit. Have you been up in the Prefectural Museum (?) where you can get some nice photos of the castle for above? I dropped by last winter but it was too foggy to get any good pics. Osaka-jo is such a great site and totally understand how you get tired walking around. I usually end up getting stuck taking hundreds of kokuin pics until I get tired!
avatar

RaymondWDaimyo

12 months ago
Score 1++
Matthew, it’s great to come across another castle fan who loves re-visiting castles. I’ve been to Osaka Castle a similar number of times as you. What you have written pretty much echoes my experience with this castle. For my first few visits, I had been disappointed in the reconstructed concrete keep and its lack of authentic interior, but then I realised, as you have noted in your comment below, what makes Osaka Castle a top castle to visit are all its other features like the massive stone walls, the moats, and the few extant structures. Also, it is fun tracking down kokuins or stonemasons’ seals at Osaka Castle as there are quite a lot of them scattered around the castle. If you know where to take photos from some good angles or spots with few tourists, a castle fan can come away from a visit to Osaka Castle with some great photos.
avatar

Matthew WardGunshi

13 months ago
Score 1++

I've been to Osaka Castle more times than any other castle, possibly a dozen times, and I have come to appreciate it more and more. I totally agree with the comments above that going straight to the main keep often leaves people disappointed. I think my first few times I was really impressed when I passed the awesome moats, stone walls, gates and turrets, but then entered the main keep and was disappointed by how little historical atmosphere it had. Big mistake, because all the other stuff really is the main attraction.

The thing is, Osaka Castle would easily rate a 5 even without the main keep. The walls, moats and collection of original gates and (especially) original yagura would make it a spendid sight by itself, and then there are the other cool things like the Enshogura and Gokinzo, plus some authentically reconstructed gates to go with the original ones. A lot of these structures are now 400 years old.

To me, the main keep neither adds nor detracts from the overall value of the castle. It adds in the sense that it looks great from a distance and improves the view of the wonderful collection of structures that makes up the castle, and it detracts in the sense that it has little historical ambiance inside. I'm not discouraging people from entering the main keep, but they really should know that there is so much to the castle. I can say for myself that my best visits have not involved even going particularly near the main keep.

The other thing is that for me, Osaka Castle is the most visually stunning and impressive Japanese castle--it's just on such a huge scale. It's a great place to wander around and check out all of the great structures and views. The important thing to me is that *the main keep is not the castle*. Part of the castle, sure, but when there is so much to the overall castle, I find it sad when people talk about the main keep like it's the whole castle. To me, it's like a cherry on the top of the rest of the castle.

One thing I've never been able to figure out: how authentic is the main keep, anyway? I mean, obviously the concrete isn't authentic, but other than that, how similar is it to the main keep that burned down in 1665? If it is fairly authentic, then they must have had some drawings or models of the original main keep, which maybe wouldn't be surprising considering how important it was as a castle.
avatar

ARTShogun

13 months ago
Score 1++

Wise comments, Mr Ward! I also give this castle top marks. The 1931 reconstructed concrete donjon is actually meant to be modelled on Toyotomi's Osaka Castle rather than the Edo period one, believe it or not (though the design has proto-modern rather than medieval elements!). Really it's not much like either historic keep, but has a few elements of both. It's really its own creature.

Btw, if you have FB and keep any photos, we'd love to see them on the 'Japanese Castles' group there.
avatar

FurinkazanDaimyo

17 months ago
Score 0++
Since my last visit in 2019, I wanted to go around the castle and that's what I did on 09/12/2022. I spent the whole day walking all around the site and saw several buildings I never saw before, like the Ichibanyagura and Inuiyagura. The weather was astounding and I strolled leisurely around the different baileys.
avatar

FurinkazanDaimyo

62 months ago
Score 0++
I revisited Osakajô today. The last time was in 2010. I din't had the 100 meijô stamp. Today(7th april 2019) was a perfect day since the sakura were in full bloom and the Otemonyagura, Sengan yagura and stone gunpowder store were open like Chris Glenn mentioned on FB. Since i'm accompanying 2 young ladies on this voyage i didn't visit the castle grounds as if i was alone. I still managed to visit the Tenshu and the 3 open to the public buildings and took 165 photos.
avatar

Kikima34Gunshi

79 months ago
Score 1++
I love the gold on this castle.
avatar

ARTShogun

86 months ago
Score 1++

I compiled some information on Osaka Castle from various sources. I present it below: Oda had Adzuchijō, Tokugawa had Edojō and Toyotomi had Ōsakajō. If Tokugawa had lost the Battle of Sekigahara, or even the Siege of Ōsakajō, Ōsaka would probably be the capital of Japan by now, as this was where Toyotomi Hideyoshi built his main headquarters in 1583. The site of Ōsaka Castle was originally a stronghold of the Ikkō-ikki called Ishiyama-Honganji, which in turn had been built in 1496 on the ruins of Naniwa Palace, which can be seen next to the castle to this day. The Ikkō-ikki used Ishiyama-Honganji as their headquarters and resisted Oda Nobunaga here for 11 years, surrendering finally in 1580, whereupon the temple-fortress was razed. Construction of Ōakajō began in 1583 under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it’s vast layout was designed to rival Oda’s castle of Adzuchijō. The Tenshukaku (main keep) built at this time was of 5 tiers with gold leaf (I saw a brilliant computer rendering of it recently in the latest Sanada Jūyūshi film, which I actually witnessed being filmed at Kakegawajō). Hideyoshi died in 1598 and with that infant son Hideyori inherited his legacy, living at Ōsakajō. As Hideyori grew, Tokugawa Ieyasu consolidate his hold on power. The Fall of the First Ōsaka Castle: Whilst Tokugawa Ieyasu had been Japan’s undisputed leader since the Battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan remained a potential threat to him. After first trying diplomatic manoeuvres (Hideyori was married to Sen-hime, Ieyasu’s granddaughter), Ieyasu attacked Ōsakajō in the winter of 1614 after Hideyori was reportedly amassing troops. Hideyori was known to compose calligraphy composed of characters meaning “peace” and such, so if I were Ieyasu I’d be suspicious too. The castle was besieged and Hideyori agreed to dismantle the defences at the castle. Bakufu forces began filling in Ōsakajō’s outer moat, but by next summer it was reported that Hideyori had begun re-digging the moat and stopped government men from their work, and that he was amassing even more troops. This enraged Ieyasu and he marched another army down to Ōsaka. The Toyotomi Loyalists planned to make up for their lack of numbers (their army was half the size of the Tokugawa side) with a surprise attack. The plan was to have Akashi Morishige attack from the flank, causing disorder, whilst Sanada Yukimura and Mori Katsunaga, leader of the Ōsaka Rōnin, would then attack from the front. Hideyori would then emerge from Ōsakajō and finish off the enemy force. However, the Eastern Army scouted and engaged Akashi before he could attack. The Rōnin began shooting the enemy and when Sanada ordered them to fall back they instead advanced with gusto. Sanada followed, conceding to their bloodlust, and the battle raged on despite the break in the plan. For a while it seemed Tokugawa would lose, and there is some evidence he had prepared for seppuku in such an event. The Ōsaka Rōnin fought bravely but when they needed reinforcements from the castle none came. Eventually with the enemy being too numerous they were overwhelmed. Too late Toyotomi Hideyori emerged with his army from Ōsakajō, only to be chased back into the mainkeep. With the suddenness of this about-turn, there was not time to prepare a defense of the stronghold and the Eastern Army stormed the main citadel, firing upon the tenshukaku with gun and cannon, and forcing Hideyori to commit suicide. There is evidence that a rouse kept Hideyori in his castle when he might’ve emerged to claim victory… but let’s discuss that another time.

In 1620 Ōsakajō was rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada, the 2nd Shōgun, bigger than before with a five-tier eight-storey tenshukaku. He gave the task of building segments of the walls to individual clans and so the castle was built very quickly, a national effort. In 1660 a lightning strike ignited a gunpowder store and caused a fire at the castle. Another lightning bolt in 1665 struck and burned down the tenshukaku and it was subsequently not rebuilt until the modern reconstruction seen today. In 1843 repairs were carried out a thte castle and several yagura (turrets) were rebuilt. In 1868 Meiji Forces conquered the castle, causing much destruction. In 1928 Ōsakajō became one of the first castles reconstructed from concrete, but the castle remained as an arsenal and was bombed by Allied aircraft in 1945. The new keep was damaged in the air raid but not destroyed.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

90 months ago
Score 0++
I really liked the castle itself, the museum inside was very interesting and detailed the history behind it well. However, the overall experience wasn’t that great because of the amount of people that were there, it was much more crowded than Himeji castle the day before. For this reason I don’t think I’ll revisit the main keep of the castle and don’t remember it too fondly, but it’s good to have been to a place with so much history behind it at least. What I did enjoy the most was the video downstairs explaining the transportation of materials to build the castle, after that I went outside to check the rocks in the area and loved to find the different markings on them telling us which general was in charge of their mobilisation and placement. Since I visited this on my second trip to Japan I really only visited the main keep and the kura storehouse (I did love kura storehouses even then…) but I think I’ll go again one day just to check out the rest of the grounds and area on a future trip to Osaka.
avatar

SuupaahiirooAshigaru

93 months ago
Score 0++
Was disappointed by the castle the first time I visited it, but gradually grew to love the moats and the yagura. All in all, apart from the modern tenshu this a magnificent complex. For the best view of the castle grounds visit the Osaka Museum of History (大阪歴史博物館).
avatar

SnoworionGunshi

93 months ago
Score 0++
Visited on 10 September 2016. More of a modern museum built in the shape of a castle than a castle. Grounds are more impressive than the castle itself. Crowd ruin the experience.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

106 months ago
Score 0++
Beautiful castle with a beautiful view from the top. The museum is really good too. I have been inside twice. In winter they do a castle light up which is stunning.
avatar

Kiddus i2003Gunshi

109 months ago
Score 0++
Impressive is the word for this castle and its location.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

137 months ago
Score 0++

First one I ever visited and I have been there twice!

Awesome museum and awesome history of that location.
avatar

RaymondWDaimyo

146 months ago
Score 0++
After work today, I went to the ruins of the Sanada Bailey, an outer fortification which protected the approaches to Osaka Castle from the south during the Winter Campaign of the Siege of Osaka Castle in 1614. There isn't much left there apart from some stone remnants, but there is a statue of Sanada Yukimura erected in more recent times. The ruins are about 5 minutes walk from JR Tamatsukuri Station.
avatar

Frank T.Gunshi

154 months ago
Score 0++
This is a great first castle to visit. It's conveniently located in a major city near an international airport. It has all the features that can be found in Japanese castles--gates, moats, turrets, high walls of huge stones, and of course, the keep--so one can learn what to look for. Finally, it's historically important and has a very good museum. Since the keep is a concrete reconstruction, though, a visit here could be disappointing after a visit to another castle like Himeji. The grounds are extensive, but the outer areas are not well maintained. Go here first!
avatar

A22cricketAshigaru

158 months ago
Score 0++
Detailed museum about the original castle and the sieges. The original stone walls are great. Better from the outside while the interior is modern, including elevators and a small theater.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

162 months ago
Score 0++
Osaka castle is one of the top three things to do in Osaka, the others are visiting the aquarium and eating. Unfortunately, my old camera's batteries died right before I got to the castle so the only photo I have is of the beautiful blue water of the moat. (By a strange coincidence the camera itself finally passed on directly after visiting the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu). The park was very nice to walk around. I would like to go back to Osaka by myself one day - I went with a friend who wasn't really interested so I didn't get to see as much as I liked.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

163 months ago
Score 0++
This was the first castle I visited in Japan and I have a lot of fond memories as a result. It was one of the main reasons I moved to Osaka and whilst I can understand how some people dislike the concrete reconstruction, a lot of effort has been put into the exhibits inside the castle to provide some excellent information about the history of the site and local area. At times I prefer this approach as it helps visitors learn something during their tour and the extensive grounds make for a beautiful walk with some stunning scenery. Movement within the castle slows to a crawl on crowded days (spaces are narrow as it is) but anyone wanting a free poster should ask at the staff office as they usually have a variety of old promotional material to get rid of.
avatar

Anonymous user #1

165 months ago
Score 0++
Went there on my last day in Osaka, and I felt somewhat disappointed. Yes, it looks great on the outside, and it has really impressive castle park, walls and moats, but the donjon's interior... Would they restore it in wood one day, I wonder? Although the museum was great, all those elevators and concrete killed my inner castle enthusiast a little bit more with every level :/ Though, the view from the observation deck is beautiful, and if I lived in Osaka, it would be great walk through the castle park everyday while going to work and back, as many students and salarimen there seem to do :)
avatar

FurinkazanDaimyo

166 months ago
Score 0++
This is really a nice castle to visit, even if it's in concrete. The site is beautiful and the collection inside the castle is worth a visit. If you visit the city for 1 or 2 days i recommend to buy a 1 or 2 day unlimited pass at an information center. It give access to several buildings and the Osaka subway. If you visit the Museum of history you can take a nice view of the castle from the 10th or 9th floor.
avatar

Jcastle.oldHatamoto

172 months ago
Score 0++
In the post-war Japan when they rebuilt a lot of these they were, unfortunately, not so concerned about things like that. They just slapped up something that looked more or less like a castle as cheaply as possible. Then filled it with museum goods to try and raise interest in the area and in history. These days they are trying much harder to recreate anything in a more accurate methods . The new castle palaces and reconstruction that have gone up recently are well done. There are plans in discussion to rebuild the donjon at Nagoya and Matsumae using traditional methods and materials too. However, just because a castle is a poor concrete reconstruction don't dismiss the historical value of the site. Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuyama and many places with poor concrete donjon also have many original gates, watchtowers or other structures that are important historical artifacts.