Osaka’s main attraction other than the famous Glico running man in Dotonburi is the Osaka Jo or Osaka Castle. This iconic castle is a symbol of Osaka and a unified Japan under the Toyotomi rule back in the 1500s. It has also been destroyed and rebuilt due to war and an untimely lightning strike, and today is a place you should add to your Osaka itinerary to get an overview of Osaka’s history in one beautiful landmark.
Here’s what you can expect to see at Osaka Castle.
How to get to Osaka Castle
The easiest way is to hop on the subway, there are several stations that can get you to different entrances of Osaka Castle. We ended up at Morinomiya Station on the Southeastern corner and took a walk to the Tamatsuguchi entrance.
Or you could stop at the Tanimachi 4-chome on the Chuo line and come in from the Southwestern entrance instead.
Purchase your tickets in the Hommaru, the inner bailey of the castle right in front of it. There’s a ticket vending machine for you to buy tickets – it usually costs 600 yen for adults, but there was a discount happening so we only paid 540 yen for our entry.
Opening hours are from 9am – 5pm, last entry at 430pm.
A great viewpoint
The Osaka Castle is 7 storeys high and has great elevation. Take the lift all the way to the top where you can walk around the tower and enjoy a 360º view of Osaka city from up high.
It’s also a great way to see some of the castle’s architectural and decorative elements up close – you’ll see some of that down in the museum as well.
An interactive stroll through history
From the top, slowly wind your way down through the rest of Osaka Castle which has been turned into a museum with lots of info both about the castle and Osaka itself. The museum displays are comprehensive but surprisingly interesting as well, with a strong element of interactiveness encouraged. It’s a fun way to get a glimpse of how this city came to be and a nice way to spend an hour or so, especially if the weather is sweltering outside.
Enjoy the landscaped gardens
Osaka Castle covers quite a large area, and if the weather is nice, take some time to walk around and enjoy pretty Japanese gardens before you leave.
Next time, I’d like to come back at night because they light up the castle in the evenings which is supposed to be quite a sight.
Around the Osaka Castle
We left the castle grounds from the South-west Otemon exit. From there we spotted this interesting looking building and decided to check it out.
It turned out to be 2 different buildings – the one on the left was the Natural History Museum of Osaka. We didn’t pay to enter, just wandered around outside and looked at the preserved ruins in the glass floor below us.
And the building on the right was the NHK Osaka Hall. We saw groupies hanging around waiting for some random famous person, but what was more interesting was the play area dedicated to interactive games with NHK TV shows and of course the NHK mascot, Domo!