OSAKA CASTLE – (大阪城, Osaka-jo)
The site of the current castle was a battlefield for generations, well before the current Osaka Castle you see today was established. The site of powder, destruction and war! The grounds of Osaka Castle have a rich history and centuries of different buildings before the castle we know and love today was finished.
The former grounds where the site of one of the most important Buddhist Temples in Japan, called Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which opened in 1496. This temple was inhabited by warrior monks that were apposed to samurai rule during bloody civil ware period of Sengoku (1467 - 1615). The site of the temple was chosen as the mouth of the Yodo River, which was strategically important to the Buddhist monks at the time, being on the outskirts of the ancient capital of Japan. This site has also recently been discovered to have been site of an ancient Imperial Palace, which has been long lost. Some of the walls and outlines of the Temple site can still be seen now in the grounds that surround the castle. The Buddhist temple was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga, who is credited with being on of the three unifiers of Japan during this period of civil war. Towards the end of his life he was known for is brutality and skilled war fair tactics.
Thirteen years after the Ishiyama Honganji Temple was destroyed in 1563, construction of Osaka Castle was started by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He was a feudal war lord and Imperial Minister that carried on the work of Oda Nobunaga, at reunifying Japan. Toyotomi’s vision was to create the largest castle of it’s time, that would be the centre of the newly unified Japan under his rule. However before the castle was ever finished, a rival in the Imperial Government Tokugawa Hidetada, who was the feudal Military of Japan, put a stop to Toyotomi’s plans soon after his death. Tokugawa ordered the military to attack and destroy Osaka Castle, soon after Toyotomi had died, effectively terminating the Imperial Lineage of Toyotomi in 1615 and instating his own family. Osaka Castle was then rebuilt in Tokuagawa’s vision in the 1620’s. However disaster would come to the castle again and in 1665 a lightening strike hit the main tower and Osaka Castle was was again destroyed, in a fire.
The castle was once again rebuilt and survived for 200 years, while the Tokugawa family ruled Japan, with help from the Samurai. However in 1868, there was discontent at the fall of power Japan was suffering due to Western world influence. Civil war ensued between the Tokugawa Samurai’s and the opposing side that wanted to bring back the Imperial Court powers. Osaka Castle as the ruling seat of the Tokugawa family, was once again destroyed in the subsequent Boshin War.
It wasn’t until 1928 that the current Osaka Castle was actually reconstructed taking 3 years to complete. The main construction of the current castle is actually a steel frame and concrete. It is then clad and decorated, using traditional techniques. The castle was fortunate enough to survive World War II, with just minor damage that was repaired. Osaka Castle was then recognised by the Japanese Government in the 1950’s as a Historical Site of Special Significance. This has helped to protect the castle up to today and is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan.
The castle is set within a beautiful castle park that was opened in 1931, filled with cherry blossom trees. Within the castle, there are still structures that have survived all the wars since the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). This five tiered castle is still one of the most loved and special buildings in the whole of Japan with a history going back over 450 years.
Why not try building your own little piece of Osaka, made from sustainable Japanese card. This is the perfect stationery gift for your self or someone you know loves Japan!