We arrived at Narita Airport at six in the morning. After having breakfast at McDonald’s (yes, I know, not the best choice) and getting our JR Passes, we headed to Osaka. To get to Osaka from Narita Airport, we had to ride the Narita Express and the Shinkansen. Total travel time was a little under four hours. It was a long ride but it was a great start (we got super excited about riding the Shinkansen) to our trip. After settling into our hotel and freshening up a bit, we headed to Osaka Castle.
The construction of Osaka Castle started in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga thirteen years earlier. Toyotomi Hideyoshi intended the castle to become the center of a new, unified Japan under Toyotomi rule. It was the largest castle at the time.
However, a few years after Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa troops attacked and destroyed the castle and terminated the Toyotomi lineage in 1615. Osaka Castle was rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada in the 1620s, but its main castle tower was struck by lightening in 1665 and burnt down.
It was not until 1931 that the present ferro-concrete reconstruction of the castle tower was built. During the war it miraculously survived the city wide air raids. Major repair works gave the castle new glamor in 1997. The castle tower is now entirely modern on the inside and even features an elevator for easier accessibility. It houses an informative museum about the castle’s history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
It was a bit late when we got to the castle grounds. It was nearing their closing time (5PM) and since we didn’t want to rush the experience, we just enjoyed strolling the castle and the surrounding park.
Even if we didn’t have the chance to see the inside (I hear its all modern), we still enjoyed the castle grounds and strolling the park. I guess it’s just another reason to go back there!