One of the most popular and most visited attractions in Japan is Osaka Castle.
Built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous general who was known to unite Japan through force, it was completed in 1590.
That castle is now the symbol of Osaka and although much of it has been re-constructed, is still a worthwhile place to visit.
One of the most overwhelming exhibits is a reconstruction of Hideyoshi’s Golden Tea Room. The consumption of tea in Japan is accompanied by great ceremony, and so the room was built using the knowledge of Hideyoshi’s Tea Ceremony Master. The wily general had a particular liking for gold, and so the tea room represents his passion for both gold and tea.
Inside this tea room not only the walls, but also the pillars and the ceiling, and even the tea utensils were finished with gold.
Sadly for Hideyoshi, not only his ornate tea room, but also his castle was destroyed by enemies, then re-built by the ruling family.
Today, Osaka Castle is not only a museum, but its gardens are popular with locals and visitors who enjoy picnicking there. In the winter a light festival takes place at the castle.
For this show, the castle exterior and its grounds are used for a giant 3D projection show which marries colourful lights with contemporary music to create a very spectacular event.
One of the best vantage points to view the castle is from the observation deck within the grounds. Not only are you afforded panoramic views of the castle, but also the city and mountains beyond.
One of the popular displays inside the castle can be found on the seventh floor of Osaka Castle where there is a diorama depicting the life and history of Toyotomi Hideyoshi whose image appears to move around the room.
In one section of the castle, for a fee, you can try on traditional Japanese garb, which includes some of the helmets and armour that used to be worn by soldiers. Ladies can try on some of the ornate kimonos that were popular around the court.
Outside of the main buildings is The Nishinomaru Garden and Osaka Castle Park, which covers an area of about two square kilometres.
With 600 cherry trees, it is a very popular place for people to congregate during Cherry Blossom season.
As well as the cherries, the castle gardens are home to about 95 different varieties of plum trees.
Osaka Castle is certainly prominent, being surrounded by an enormous stone wall that is twelve kilometres long, and a wide moat which extends out to 90 metres.
A fantastic place to visit.