Osaka Castle Museum & Park

Confession: I went out on Friday night and enjoyed myself a little too much.  It really wasn't that bad, but I woke up Saturday morning wishing it were raining so I would have a good excuse to stay in bed.  But, the sun was out, so I got myself ready and dragged myself out for some touristy exploration.  Seeing as I've been spending a good deal of time in Kyoto lately, I decided to stay a bit closer to home and visit Osaka Castle.  Again, its a place I've been to before, but was due another visit.

The Castle grounds are easy enough to get to.  If you're taking JR, take the Osaka Loop Line to Osaka-Jo Koen or Morinomiya.  If you're taking the subway, you'll want to go to Tanimachi 4 Chome, it's on the Chuo Line (this is what I did...Exit 9 puts you just across the street from the Castle grounds). Of course, these aren't the only ways to get there, but two of the most straight forward!

The park is huge, and I opted to take a stroll around the Outer Moat before touring the Castle itself.  It was a pleasant, but HOT walk and was not terribly crowded.  The paths are lined with cherry trees, so this is definitely a spot to check out in springtime!

Eventually I came to a place to cross the moat and enter the castle.  I thought I had walked around the whole thing, then I saw a map and discovered I have only covered about a third of the distance!  I'll save the rest of the walk for a cooler day!

 The walls around the castle are made of enormous stones.  Inside the castle you can read all about how historians (think) they built the walls. 

Here's a rather unflattering picture of me. I'm really gonna have to work on my posing if I'm going to use the timer to try and take self-portraits!

Osaka Castle has a lot of history behind it, here is a brief rundown of some of it.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi began the construction of the castle in 1583.  It was completed in 1597, but Hideyoshi died shortly after, so the castle was inherited by his son, Toyotomi Hideyori. From then on the poor castle goes through quite a bit.  Here's a rough timeline of events:

-1615: Castle falls in the "Summer War of Osaka" to Tokugawa Ieyasu.
-1620: Reconstruction begins. (Apparently the walls there today were built then.)
-1660 and 1665: Castle struck by lightening and catches on fire. 
-1843: Reconstruction.
-1868: Castle destroyed during civil conflicts associated with the Meiji Restoration.
-1928: Main tower is restored.
-1945: Castle destroyed during WWII bombings.
-1995: Restoration begins.
-1997: Current restorations completed.

You can take a picture with a Japanese warrior (I guess that's what he's supposed to be).

Or, he can take your picture.

The current castle looks old from the outside with shiny gold trim, but is a modern museum on the inside, a bit of a disappointment if you're interested to see what life might have been like in a Japanese castle, but you've been warned!

The museum has some interesting artifacts and gives a good history of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka and the castle. The 8th floor is a viewing deck where you will find a nice view of Osaka city on a clear day.

Excellent views from the 8th floor.  If you look closely, you can see Hep-5's red Ferris Wheel in sort of makes the city feel a bit smaller!

I sort of doubt Toyotomi Hideyoshi had a glass elevator in mind when he originally built the castle!

Entrance fees are ¥600 for adults (¥550 until the end of September) and students under 15 are free.

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