Osaka Castle

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Osaka Castle
大坂城
Osaka, Japan
Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Garden April 2005.JPG
Osaka Castle view from Nishinomaru Garden
Type Azuchi-Momoyama castle
Site information
Condition Reconstructed
Site history
Built 1583
In use 1583-1868
Built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Otemon and Main Tower

Osaka Castle (大坂城 or 大阪城, Ōsaka-jō?) is a Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The castle is one of Japan's most famous, and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.[1]

Description[edit]

The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer. It is built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

The Castle grounds, which cover approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres)[2] contain thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government,[3] including:

  • Ote-mon Gate
  • Sakura-mon Gate
  • Ichiban-yagura Turret
  • Inui-yagura Turret
  • Rokuban-yagura Turret
  • Sengan Turret
  • Tamon Turret
  • Kinmeisui Well
  • Kinzo Storehouse
  • Enshogura Gunpowder Magazine
  • Three sections of castle wall all located around Otemon Gate.

History[edit]

Ōte-mon Gate with moat in foreground
Osaka Castle rampart in 1865
Stone marking the place where Toyotomi Hideyori and his mother, Yodo-Dono, committed suicide after the fall of Osaka Castle

In 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi commenced construction on the site of the Ikkō-ikki temple of Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The basic plan was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. Toyotomi wanted to build a castle that mirrored Oda's, but surpassed it in every way: the plan featured a five-story main tower, with three extra stories underground, and gold leaf on the sides of the tower to impress visitors. In 1585 the Inner donjon was completed. Toyotomi continued to extend and expand the castle, making it more and more formidable to attackers. In 1597 construction was completed and Hideyoshi died. Osaka Castle passed to his son, Toyotomi Hideyori.

In 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his opponents at the Battle of Sekigahara, and started his own bakufu in Edo. In 1614 Tokugawa attacked Hideyori in the winter, starting the Siege of Osaka.[4] Although the Toyotomi forces were outnumbered approximately 2 to 1, they managed to fight off Tokugawa's 200,000-man army and protect the castle's outer walls. Tokugawa had the castle's outer moat filled, negating one of the castle's main outer defenses.

During the summer of 1615, Hideyori began to dig the outer moat once more. Tokugawa, in outrage, sent his armies to Osaka Castle again, and routed the Toyotomi men inside the outer walls on June 4. Osaka Castle fell to Tokugawa, and the Toyotomi clan perished.

In 1620, the new heir to the shogunate, Tokugawa Hidetada, began to reconstruct and re-arm Osaka Castle. He built a new elevated main tower, five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and assigned the task of constructing new walls to individual samurai clans. The walls built in the 1620s still stand today, and are made out of interlocked granite boulders without mortar. Many of the stones were brought from rock quarries near the Seto Inland Sea, and bear inscribed crests of the various families who contributed them.

In 1660, lightning ignited the gunpowder warehouse and the resulting explosion set the castle on fire. In 1665, lightning struck and burnt down the main tower. In 1843, after decades of neglect, the castle got much-needed repairs when the bakufu collected money from the people of the region to rebuild several of the turrets.

In 1868, Osaka Castle fell and was surrendered to anti-bakufu imperial loyalists. Much of the castle was burned in the civil conflicts surrounding the Meiji Restoration.

Under the Meiji government, Osaka Castle became part of the Osaka Army Arsenal (Osaka Hohei Kosho) manufacturing guns, ammunition and explosives for Japan's rapidly-expanding Western-style military.[5]

In 1928, the main tower was restored after the mayor of Osaka concluded a highly successful fund-raising drive.

During World War II, the arsenal became one of the largest military armories, employing 60,000 workers.[5] Bombing raids targeting the arsenal damaged the reconstructed main castle tower and, on August 14, 1945, destroyed 90% of the arsenal and killed 382 people working there.

In 1995, Osaka's government approved yet another restoration project, with the intent of restoring the main tower to its Edo-era splendor. In 1997, restoration was completed. The castle is a concrete reproduction (including elevators) of the original and the interior is intended as a modern, functioning museum.

Views of the castle[edit]

Accessibility[edit]

The castle is open to the public, and is easily accessible from Osakajōkōen Station on the JR West Osaka Loop Line. It is a popular spot during festival seasons, and especially during the cherry blossom bloom (hanami), when the sprawling castle grounds are covered with food vendors and taiko drummers. The large indoor arena Osaka-jo Hall is also located within the grounds of the castle park.

Popular Culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Uemachidaichi : OSAKA-INFO - Osaka Visitor's Guide". Osaka-info.jp. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  2. ^ "Osaka / Osaka Castle". Japanese National Tourist Organization. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Osaka Castle". GoJapanGo. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  4. ^ Meek, Miki. "The Siege of Osaka Castle". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ a b "Osaka Army Arsenal". Ndl.go.jp. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 

Literature[edit]

  • Mitchelhill, Jennifer (2013). Castles of the Samurai:Power & Beauty. USA: Kodansha. ISBN 978-1568365121. 
  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co. pp. 69–78. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. pp. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Osaka Castle at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 34°41′14″N 135°31′33″E / 34.68722°N 135.52583°E / 34.68722; 135.52583