December 7, 2013

Osaka Castle

My hotel in Osaka was very near to the JR Osaka Loop Line. The loop line encircles the city so it was very convenient to get around.

Starting my day in Osaka, I bought the Osaka One-day pass (800 yen), which entitled me to unlimited ride on subways and city buses for a day. I didn't have specific plans that day so I bought the pass just in case I might be criss-crossing the city.

After going through the Osaka guide books, I boarded the train to Osaka Castle or Osaka-jo.

 It was a pretty long walk from the station to the castle, walking through a garden.


The castle was first built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a well-known warlord. It was destroyed in 1615, after falling to the Tokugawa forces. In 1620, Tokugawa rebuilt the castle in a bigger and grander version than Hideyoshi's original but it didn't last long. Once again, the castle was burned to the ground after being struck by lightning in 1665.

It was only rebuilt almost 3 centuries later in 1931, with major repair works taking place in 1997 to restore the castle to its former glory.

kinmei-sui well - an important cultural property

a signal gun or noon marker

The castle is now a museum. There are 8 floors altogether, and each floor has a showcase of the castle's history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This is a rather modern castle as there are elevators inside!

summer war in Osaka

full scale replicas of the dolphin-shaped fish and crouching tigers on the Main Tower

Most of the exhibits had no English translations. I had to rely on the castle pamphlet to understand them. But there's nothing much in it so it was a pretty quick walk-by.

Luckily visitors could go out to the observation deck on the top floor so I got a 360 degree view of the city. It was wonderful and gave me a clearer picture of the whole castle complex.

the dolphin-shaped fish

Osaka is definitely a contrast to Kyoto. Before I first came to Japan, I thought Osaka is an ancient city, just like Kyoto. But from what I saw, it's modern, just like Tokyo.

By afternoon, the day was getting hotter. But I still enjoyed walking on the surrounding park grounds. 


Spotted a newly married couple doing a photoshoot. So sweet!

Osaka Castle is closed from December 28 till January 1
Visiting hours from 9 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee is 600 yen

Access : Take the JR Osaka Loop Line to Osaka-jo-koen station

Nishinomaru Garden is closed on Mondays
Visiting hours from 9 am to 5 pm (till 8 pm during cherry blossom season)
Entrance fee is 200 yen

Looking at the map of the castle ground, there are two gardens. One is Nishinomaru Garden, a lawn garden with hundreds of cherry trees, and the other is Japanese Plum-grove Garden.

Entrance to Nishinomaru Garden is charged 200 yen. Since the cherry trees hadn't bloomed yet, the plum-grove garden was the obvious choice. And it's free!


The plum trees also weren't fully bloomed yet. Nevertheless, it was absolutely beautiful. Everybody seemed to enjoy this breathtaking beauty of nature. Some of them just sat there mesmerized, some of them had picnic with their loved ones, and there were many artists around the park, full of concentration in reliving the beautiful setting on canvas.

Of course, there's a market in the park selling the saplings just in case you wanna have your own plum garden at home.
Oh, how I wish!

I left the garden at about 1.30 pm. Couldn't stand the heat anymore..

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