Osaka Castle is one
of Japan's most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification
of Japan during the sixteenth century. 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
The castle grounds, which cover
approximately 60,000 square meters contain thirteen structures that have
been designated as important cultural assets by the Japanese government.
Under the Meiji government, Osaka
Castle became part of the Osaka Army Arsenal manufacturing guns, ammunition,
and explosives for Japan's rapidly expanding Western-style military. During
World War II, the arsenal became one of the largest military armories,
employing 60,000 workers. 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.
The sprawling castle grounds
were covered with cherry blossoms, food vendors, musicians and taiko drummers.
Approaching the castle was a large mall -- Miraiza Osaka-jo -- where we
stopped for ice cream and a short rest on one of the many benches. The
mall contained many restaurants and souvenir shops and many of the staff
wore ninja costumes.