Second day, I head down to one of the most iconic landmark of Osaka – Osaka-Jo, the Castle of Osaka. It was ordered to built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), the warrior who unified Japan.
The outer view of the castle. The turret, namely sixth turret (Rokuban-yagura) in the picture is one of the two remaining turret. The 4th,5th and 7th are burnt down during the Meiji Restoration, and the second and third were lost in air raids during WW2.
Two guys are cleaning the weeps and make sure the main entrance is beautiful.
The gate for entrance – Otemon Gate, it is built in Edo Period in 1628, and was designated as Important Cultural Assets by Japanese government.
The second gate to enter the Osaka Castle, Tamon-Yagura Turret. On top of the gate, there are spacious room and many windows, and outstanding defensive capability – it was equipped with device to drop spear right onto enemies invading the castle through the gate just eblow the turret.
Just before you thought the castle in not far away, there is another gate blocking the enemies from invading the castle – Sakura Gate (桜門), which is also another Important Cultural Assets.
The name Sakura-mon, is considered to come from a line of cherry tree planted near this gate in the 16th century. The huge stone on both side of the gate are known as Ryukoishi (龍虎石), which means Dragon and Tiger Stone. Legends said that when it rained, and image of dragon and tiger appeared on the stone on the right and left respectively.
the design of the castle certainly demoralized the enemies who tried to invade the castle. After crossing the sakura gate and a few minutes walk, I finally reached the Osaka Castle.
A closer look of the castle, the flag on the left is the representation of Toyotomi Family (豊臣氏). The logo (五七の桐) is still in used by the Japanese Parliament till today.
Before entering the castle, you will come by a well. The Kimmeisui Well is built in 1626, is very deep, 33 meter to the surface of the water. The well is carved out from one stone. Legends said that Hideyoshi Toyomi, dropped gold into the well to purify the water.
Finally, standing right below the castle. From this angle, it seems huge and invincible. This tower (Tenshukaku) we see today was rebuilt in 1931 with donation from citizens of Osaka City. The original tower was completed in 1585 by Hedeyoshi Toyotomi, but lost in fire during Summer War of Osaka in 1615.
An ancient canon, built in 1863, was seated at the foyer of the castle.
From the 8th floor, you can have a clear view of the Osaka City.
I suppose the view should be more spectacular during autumn or winter period.
The fish-like golden statue on the roof is a mythological creature of a body of gold fish and the head of tiger. It is called shachihoko (鯱), it was commonly found in ancient Chinese and Japanese building, as it was believed that it can prevent fire.
At level 5, there are some video illustration of the Summer War of Osaka, and you can see the miniature of the war once you step out of the lift.
Other level are featuring the real armors (some are wear by Hedeyoshi himself) and relics, photography is prohibited. You have be there to see them yourself.
Not far away from the Tenshu Tower, there is a Hideyoshi Toyotomi Shrine. The shrine is rather quiet and seldom visitors drop by there.
A small vending machine offering the Omikuji ( おみくじ) with 100 Yen.
Wishes from all over the world can be found on the Ema (繪馬).
Basically you need at least 3 hours in order to fully enjoyed sightseeing the Osaka-Jo. Because the area is big and most of the time you need a lot of walking, walking and still walking.
Subway: Tanimachi-4-Chome (谷町四丁目） by Tanimachi Line (谷町線)
Operating Hour: 9:00 am ~ 5:00 pm (Last admission at 4:30 pm)
Admission: Adult 600 Yen; 15 years old and under is free admission.