Osaka Castle: Visiting Japan's Most Iconic Castle
When many people picture Osaka, they think of the modern day city; of the bright lights, and neon signs of Dotonbori or the sky scraper metropolis around Umeda and Osaka station. They also think of Osaka Castle.
The castle keep looking out over the outer moat of the grounds. Photo: James Rodgers
A Glimpse Of Old Amongst The New
Unlike Kyoto, Osaka is not as enriched with Japanese history in the form of temples, shrines, and old Japanese buildings. Whilst of course Osaka can still boast of some awesome temples and shrines, it can be easy to forget about this side of the city amongst its many other aspects and attractions. Osaka Castle is therefore, an anomaly in terms of the city’s most iconic landmarks; it gives us a glimpse of Old Japan amongst a city filled with testament to how Japan has flourished and grown post the Second World War.
Looking up at the keep from the base admiring its magnificence. Photo: James Rodgers
The Most Iconic Japanese Castle
However, in spite of that, Osaka castle is largely regarded as one of the countries most iconic castles, if not the most iconic. This is because it is, in every way, stunning. It sits atop two raised platforms, which lift it above the surrounding grounds and make it visible from afar. In good weather the white, green, and gold colours of the keep shine like a jewel in the sunshine. The castle is the epitome of Japanese castles, and it provides the basis for many stock images of Japanese castles, such as the castle in Apple Emojis.
The castle itself having been recently renovated is modern on the inside and has a museum dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was the founder of the castle. The castle features a lift which makes it easy to access for all.
The castle keep as seen from afar. It really does tower above its surround to give it stature. Photo: James Rodgers
No Castle Is Complete Without It’s Grounds
If you do not want to pay to enter the castle, you are still able to visit as to enter the grounds is completely free and it is here that you get the best views of the castle keep. There is in fact around 60,000 square metres of castle grounds to explore. The grounds are an excellent spot to see cherry blossoms during the spring season and many locals will be seen enjoying picnics under the blooming trees as is Japanese tradition.
Tourists are able to enjoy a view of Osaka from the top of the castle keep. The golden tiger embellishment is one of the most attractive aspects of the castle. Photo: James Rodgers
Getting There From Hostel Hyaku
The castle, roughly falls in the centre of Osaka with Umeda and Osaka station to the north and Dotonbori and Namba to the south. From Hostel Hyaku, which is situated in the south close to Dotonbori, the castle is within walking distance. The walk is on the longer side however and will take you around 30 minutes. On a good weather day, the walk is pleasant and you get to see some interesting neighbourhoods through Osaka on your way.
There is also the option of taking the subway, the best access point into the castle grounds is the Otemon gate at the southwestern corner of the grounds. The nearest station is Tanimachi-4-chome, which is easily accessible along the Tanimachi subway line. The closest station on this line to Hostel Hyaku is Tanimachi-9-chome and it is just a 7 minute walk from our hostel. The subway journey itself is only 3 minutes, and costs only JPY 180.
THE NEED TO KNOW DETAILS:
Transport: Free 30 minute walk, or JPY 180 for 3 minute subway journey
Admission fee: JPY 600 into the Osaka Castle Keep / Museum. Free to enter the castle grounds.
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:30). Closed December 28 - January 1.
Words by James Rodgers
A tourist guide boat takes a trip around the moat showing some unique views of the castle. Photo: James Rodgers