Don't head to Osaka Castle Without Knowing These 5 fun facts!
Many who head to Osaka may consider adding Osaka Castle to their list. But should you really? We went to Osaka Castle and found out several things that guidebooks don't tell you...
1. Heading to Osaka Castle requires a lot of walking
Yes, and we do mean A LOT! Coupled with the sweltering heat in Japan when we were there, it wasn't such a nice experience to get to Osaka Castle.
Osaka Castle Park is a two square kilometres sprawling green space (it is huggeee). It isn't just the castle that lies in the park, you'll also find sport facilities, a multi-purpose arena (Osakajo Hall) and a shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Still, if not for the heat, the park is one of Osaka's prime location to gaze at the cherry blossom when it is in season early April. So perhaps, if you are not heading to Osaka during that period of time. You might want to pack really good walking shoes, or maybe reconsider visiting?
Furthermore, there are actually two moats that surround Osaka Castle. Wait, pause for a second, yes TWO. Heading to Osaka Castle would also mean you have to climb uphill!
There are actually several ways to head to the castle. Some may be slight inclines while others were...
LONG FLIGHT OF STAIRS!
So for those who cannot climb, you may want to find other ways to head to the castle.
One would be to head to the castle via the Otemon Gate. The closest station to that would be the Tanimachi 4-chrome Station. Here, there aren't that many uphill walking but even from the station to the gate, it is 850m (10-minute walk), plus another 650m (6-minute walk) from the gate to the castle.
Heading to the castle this way would mean that you would have missed out on the Gokurakubashi Bridge. But, no worries, you can always head out via this bridge!
Otherwise, we actually went to Osaka Castle via the Morinomiya Station. By this way, it would mean several uphill journey and to avoid having to walk the entire way, we took a mini-train ride to the Gokurakubashi Bridge.
Hmmm.. It may now seem like we were brats we can't walk to the castle but we actually went to the castle after our Nara Half Day Trip and have already walked quite a bit of Nara Park... So, perhaps it isn't such a good idea to lump both itineraries together. Plus the scorching sun! =/
The train takes off whenever it is full and you can opt for a two-way transfer. We decided to only take a one-way as we wanted to walk downhill later on and also take another exit out of the castle grounds.
2. The Osaka Castle is resilient?
The site of the castle is built on the former grounds of the Honganji Temple which had been destroyed 13 years earlier by Oda Nobunga. Toyotomi Hideyoshi intended the castle to be the landmark of a unified Japan. However, several years after Hideyoshi's death, the castle was destroyed by the Togukawa troops. Even though Tokugawa Hidetada rebuilt it in the 1620s, the castle was again destroyed after getting struck by lightning and burning down in 1655. It was only until 1931 that the castle was rebuilt and it somehow managed to stand tall during the War's multiple air raids.
3. The Osaka Castle's interior bears little resemblance to its exterior
Unfortunately, the efforts to bring back the castle's glamour in 1997 has meant a complete revamp of the interior. The interior is modern and showcases the historical events surrounding the construction of the castle plus valuable artefacts of Japan.
Since our Osaka trip was a last-minute decision, we didn't have time to research fully on all the attractions. So this is something that many sites have jotted down but we felt that we had to add it in our list!
Imagine our surprised faces when we saw a modern interior (plus an elevator!).
There are two ways to head up to the top of the Osaka Castle - elevator or stairs. We suggest taking the stairs so that you can avoid having to queue for a long period of time during peak hours.
** note that there is an entrance fee into the Osaka Castle.
4. The top of the Osaka castle boasts great views of the park!
And imagine how it would be like during the Sakura Season! You could also try to look out for the Gokurakubashi Bridge when you are up there!
5. There's more to the Castle Park than just the Castle!
One would be the Miraiza Osaka-jo Shopping Mall. It is so interesting to have a "mall" at the castle park. Here, there are several cafes and restaurants as well as cool souvenir ninja shop where you can purchase some ninja-theme souvenirs or try your hand at the throwing stars! It's also a good place to rest your feet after walking for several hours in the hot sun before heading back out of the park! Furthermore, don't forget about the Hokoku Shrine!
Overall, we thought that the Osaka Castle Park is a great park should the weather be much cooler! We were in Japan during the time of the heatwave and it was quite unbearable at many occasions. Have you been to the Osaka Castle? Share with us your thoughts!