itchy feet cravings

Osaka Castle, up close and personal

I still have a lot of photos and stories to share about my 10-day Japan trip last November 2014. One of this was our arduous trek to Osaka Castle. Arduous, because our feet was aching so much already on the third day of our stay in Osaka. But it was definitely worth it!

Because we were scheduled to transfer to Tokyo via the Shinkansen on the eve of our last day in Osaka, we squeezed a trip to the Castle in the morning. I figured we haven’t really explored Osaka that much when we got here. We spent our first day (almost the whole day) at Universal Studios Japan, our second day exploring Kyoto. I realized then, we were about to leave Osaka on the third day without really getting anywhere in this mega city!

It might be a long time again before I get to visit Japan, so we decided to cap off the first leg of our tour with a visit to Osaka Castle. We hurriedly packed and then left our luggages at the lounge of our hotel, Shin-Osaka station hotel, before scurrying to get to the subways.

From Shin-Osaka station, we boarded the Midosuji Line and got off at Yodoyabashi Station. From here, we got on the Keihan Main line and got off to Temmabashi station. When we emerged from the subway, we were instantly awed by the sight of the Okawa river.

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We spent a good 30 minutes here doing nothing but staring at the river, watching the aqua-bus liners cruising their way silently on the waters and basking at the cool autumn breeze caressing our faces. Then we started walking down the road trying to locate the nearest gate to the castle. We walked past a Starbucks, then an NHK building before we finally found the west outer moat of the Osaka Castle…

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We walked up the path to Ote Gate but not before reading the explanation about this moat.

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So much history. We walked on towards the entrance of Ote where the rest of the people have converged…

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It seems a busy day at the park. There were plenty of tourists on the day we visited. There were students scattered everywhere too…

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As soon as we got inside the main gate, my friend immediately scoured the row of tents on the right side of the park. They were selling souvenir items here but I didn’t bother to buy anything yet. So I just snapped pictures of the scenes at the park while I wait for my pal to finish shopping…

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The play of autumn colors were not that intense yet when we got to Japan but I’m happy to see it turning brighter when we got to Osaka Castle.

From the outset, the castle itself looks mesmerizing and grand. But the castle’s history is turbulent. Converted into a museum, the castle houses historical figurines, swords and other artifacts that talked about its colorful and violent past.

Admission fees are only Y600/per head; free for children aged 15 and under. Ignoring our tired, aching legs, we paid the entrance fees and headed up the stairs.

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The first floor features a museum shop, a movie theater and a general information on the legends and mysteries of the Osaka Castle. A movie about the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the ruler and architect of the castle, and facts about this vast fortress itself is showcased at different mini-theaters inside with subtitles in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

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To make things easier, we decided to go up the Observation Deck at the 8th floor, enjoy a magnificent view of the Osaka City before going down the stairs to explore the exhibits at the lower floors. Indeed, the view from the top is spectacular… 🙂

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Going down the 7th floor, one would get substantive information of the castle’s history creatively depicted with replicas, movies, and maps. Photography is not allowed on the 4th and 3rd floors. If you want to know why, the floors exhibit the objects associated with Hideyoshi Toyotomi and other artifacts and records of the Sengoku era.

On the 5th floor, war scenes of the 1615 Summer War in Osaka is visualized with images and miniature figures.

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Osaka castle was built, torn down, built again, destroyed by fire, then restored finally during the Meiji and Showa period. During World War 2 it was damaged during the bombing raids but later on restored and turned into a historic site park. In 1997, it was included in the list of Registered Cultural Properties of Japan.
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We left the castle grounds and checked out some more souvenir shops. And to rest our tired feet, we sat down at the benches near a zen-inspired garden. The very sight of it is enough to get us recharged…

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After this, we strolled around the castle grounds to enjoy the scenery, while looking for the nearest exit to a subway.

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Because the park was so vast, we didn’t get to explore the other features of Osaka Castle like the Japanese archery field, the turrets on the sides of the park, the Kinzo (treasury) and even the Sakura gate. Still, I’m satisfied. I finally saw the famous Osaka Castle up close and personal. 😀

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