Constructed in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s most famous castles having once played a major role in the unification of Japan. The castle was destroyed several times by fires and the air raids of WWII only to be reconstructed where today it stands as one of the most important Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan.
In the winter of 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu attacked Toyotomi Hideyori, the son and rightful heir to Hideyoshi and the last remaining threat to Ieyasu’s rule, starting the Siege of Osaka. Although the Toyotomi forces were outnumbered approximately two to one, they managed to fight off Tokugawa’s 200,000 man army. Afterwards, Tokugawa had the castle’s outer moat filled with sand negating one of the castle’s main outer defenses. During the summer of 1615, Hideyori began to restore the outer moat, which outraged Tokugawa. He sent his armies to Osaka Castle again and this time the castle fell and Toyotomi Hideyori and his mother committed seppuku. There is a stone on the castle grounds, which marks the place where the pair ended their lives.
Visitors to the castle can learn more about the history of the castle when they visit the Osaka Castle Museum. Various artifacts, panel screens and a diorama on the 7th floor offer an insight into the over 400 year history of the castle as well as provide a glimpse into the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The panel screen presentations are subtitled in English, Chinese and Korean.
The year 2014 marked the 400 year anniversary of the Siege of Osaka and various events and festivities to commemorate the event took place in and around the castle.
One such event was the 3D illumination of the castle, which began on December 14, 2014 and continued through February 16, 2015. The event was a collaboration between the Osaka Government Tourism Bureau and the illumination engineers at Huis Ten Bosch Park in Nagasaki. The main tower of Osaka Castle was turned into a massive canvas colored by a brilliant lightshow choreographed to music. In addition to the 3D illumination, the Nishinomaru Garden was decorated with lights drawing over 590,000 spectators to the event.
After touring the castle and museum, stop by the Osaka Castle Park, a 106 hectare oasis whose scenery changes with each season, drawing droves of visitors year round. Established in 1931, the park is not only home to 600 cherry trees but also a beautiful spot to enjoy the changing of the autumn leaves.
Event hours are from 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM daily however the actual projection show is presented only three times, at 6:45, 8:15 and 9:45. There is an admission charge of ¥1,600 for adults and ¥950 for children ages four and up.
Event web page: http://www.tenka1hikari.jp/
Castle web page: http://www.osakacastle.net/english/
Address: 2, Osakajo, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka 540-0002