No trip to a Japanese city would be complete without delving into exciting history and culture of the area. Here, again, Osaka has so much to offer.
Osaka Castle is the symbol of Osaka in Japan, which has been handed down through the dramas in history to the present day. The castle has been destroyed and reconstructed many times over the years, by conflicts, wars and natural disasters. There are also many good cherry blossom viewing spots at Osaka and Osaka Castle is one of them. It’s quite a far walk from the nearest train stations but if you don’t mind it, it’s rather worth the efforts to view the beautiful flowers against the famous landmark of Osaka city. It’s also a popular spot for ‘blossom viewing 花见’ where families and friends will come together to have a BBQ and picnic under the sakura trees while enjoying the short-lived beauty of the flowers.
Osaka Castle was built in the late 1500s by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The castle is widely known as an emblem of the power and fortune of Toyotomi. The story goes that Toyotomi loved gold and had the exterior of the Main Tower covered in gold accents. He desired a castle that was formidable to attackers and continued to expand the building until its completion. This castle was important in a lot of the wars throughout the country and helped unify the nation.
Once I reached the entrance to the castle, all I could do was look up and stare at the massive structure in front of me. I was trying hard to keep my jaw from dropping as I admire the beauty of the castle. Osaka Castle features an observation deck at the top floor and the main tower is set up as a history museum, with an observation deck that allows you to view the beautiful scenery of the Osaka Castle Park.
Regardless of what angle you view the castle - high-up, ground-level, from a train - Osaka Castle is a truly magnificent structure. But don't just come and view the castle, take the time to wander the park. If you are fortunate to be in the area during "Cherry Blossom" viewing (April/May), you will be in for a treat. The Sakura are a sight to behold and the locals take great delight in celebrating the occasion with a picnic under the blooms. I suggest you do the same.
The Osaka Castle is not your regular stone-wall castles that you normally see in European countries. Some parts of it are actually made of wood. You will also notice the huge stones that make up the walls and grounds of the castle’s base. That’s one of the things that I admire in this castle in Japan. I dig for those huge stones.
The place is really so beautiful and walking under the cherry blossoms made me feel like i was in my own telenovela!
I was there in late March, the full blossom was in early April, i considered myself lucky to see some of the cherry blossom which was about 70% bloomed.
Even though the sakura had yet to reach the full bloom stage, you can see a lot of local people were enjoying the annual 'hanami' event with friends and family under the sakura trees.
Those were sakura trees by the fort, imagine how beautiful it would be during full blossom days.
It took me probably about 1 hour to walk up to where the castle was because I took my time enjoying the cherry blossoms and taking pictures. I could really tell that Osaka Castle is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing because of the beautiful sights and countless tress.
For first-timers in Japan, entering the castle and going all the way up to the Observation Deck will offer you a 360o degrees' view of Osaka’s skyline.
Although it was 2 degrees (Celsius) on this late afternoon, stepping out in the view deck was so refreshing. I was immediately greeted by the gush of cold wind as it kissed my bare face adding more to the chilling environment. But with a sight that greeted us as I looked down and traced back where I came from, the coldness was temporarily forgotten.
One of the charms of this castle is the beauty of its stone wall. The castle tower is surrounded by impressive stone walls and moats. Reportedly, there are 500,000 to 1,000,000 rocks used for this ganites wall.
Osaka Castle and park are very photogenic and they are beautiful in every season. Of course, they are best viewed during the spring with cherry-blossoms and in autumn with fall-foliage. The famous brainchild of Hideyoshi Toyotomi was unparalleled in terms of scale during its time. A symbol of Osaka ever since but it too suffered from the ill fate of being destroyed and burnt down in separate occasions. The current structure is actually a concrete reconstruction of its glorious form in the past.
A must-visit historical place if you are in Osaka, Japan!
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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