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 landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.[1]

Osaka Castle
Osaka, Japan
The main keep and inner moat of Osaka Castle, 2009

Aerial photograph of the Osaka Castle in 2017

TypeAzuchi-Momoyama castle
Site information
Site history
Built byToyotomi Hideyoshi
In use1583–1945
Main tower
Outer moat of Osaka Castle



The main keep of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometre. 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 keep 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 main keep is surrounded by a series of moats and defensive fortifications. The castle has two moats (an inner & outer). The inner castle moat lies within the castle grounds and consists of two types: a wet (northern-easterly) and dry (south-westerly). The outer moat meanwhile surrounds the entire castle premise, denotes the castle's outer limits, and consists of four individual water-filled sections, each representing a cardinal direction (North, East, South, West).

The castle grounds, which cover approximately 61,000 square metres (15 acres), contain the following thirteen structures that were denoted as "important cultural assets" by the Japanese government:[2]

  • 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 'dobei' mud-and-plaster wall all located around the Otemon Gate; each has its own Important Cultural Property status

There are also some megaliths at the castle include the Octopus stone, but these have no cultural property status. The outer moat has two main sentry checkpoints: the Aoyamon Gate (in the north-east) and the Otemon Gate (in the opposing south-west).

Between the outer and inner moat are the following: Fushimi-yagura Turret Remains, Ensho-gura Gunpowder Storehouse, Osaka Geihinkan, Hoshoan Tea House, Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Garden, Sengan-yagura Turret, Tamon-yagura Turret, Remains of Taiko-yagura Turret, Osaka Shudokan Martial Arts Hall, Hokoku Shrine (Osaka), Ichiban-yagura Turret (The first turret), and Plum Grove.

There are two places to cross the inner moat, Gokuraku-bashi Bridge (located in the North) and Sakuramon Gate (main sentry point in the South).

Within the inner moat, the castle was divided into two major areas: the Hommaru (Inner Bailey) and the Yamazato-Maru Bailey. Located within the Hommaru is the Main Tower, the Kimmeisui Well, the Japanese Garden, the Takoishi (Octopus Stone), the Gimmeisui Well, the Miraiza Osakajo Complex, the Kinzo Treasure House, and the "Timecapsule Expo'70". While within the Yamazato-Maru Bailey consists of the Marked-Stones Square, and the Monument commemorating 'Hideyori and Yodo-dono committing suicide'.

As with almost all Japanese castles from the Azuchi-Momoyama period onward, the tenshu (天守, main keep), the most prominent structure, was used as a storehouse in times of peace and as a fortified tower in times of war, and the daimyo (大名, feudal lord)'s government offices and residences were located in a group of single-story buildings near the tenshu and the surrounding yagura (, turrets).[3]


Miniature model of the castle complex after the Tokugawa rebuilding
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.[4] The basic plan was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. Hideyoshi wanted to build a castle that mirrored Nobunaga'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. Hideyoshi continued to extend and expand the castle, making it more and more formidable to attackers. In 1597 construction was completed and Hideyoshi died the year after. Osaka Castle passed to his son, Toyotomi Hideyori.

In 1614 Tokugawa Ieyasu besieged the Toyotomi clan forces in Osaka castle during the winter, starting the Siege of Osaka.[5] Although the Toyotomi forces were outnumbered approximately two to one, they managed to fight off Tokugawa's 200,000-man army and protect the castle's outer walls. Ieyasu had the castle's outer moat filled, negating one of the castle's main outer defenses. During the summer of 1615, Hideyori began to restore the outer moat. Ieyasu, in outrage, sent his armies to Osaka Castle again, and routed the Toyotomi men inside the outer walls on June 4.[citation needed] Later, Osaka Castle fell to the Tokugawa shogunate and the Toyotomi clan perished, as Toyotomi Hideyori and Yodo-dono committed seppuku and the castle buildings burned to the ground.[4]: 153 

As the Toyotomi clan no longer existed,[6] the Tokugawa shogunate expressed their desire to move their center of government into Osaka. However, this plan to relocate the shogunate government into Osaka were halted after the death of Ieyasu in 1616.[7] For while, the shogunate's plan to move to Osaka had once been abandoned, but was reinstated by Tokugawa Hidetada, who had a strong desire to establish an unified imperial and military government.[8] In 1619, Matsudaira Tadaaki, who was appointed as the lord of Osaka Castle before, was transferred to the Kōriyama Domain in Yamato Province, and the shogunate assume direct control of Osaka.[9] Then the project in reconstructing the Osaka castle as a new base of the shogunate were entrusted to Tōdō Takatora and Kobori Enshu.[10][11] In 1620, the old structures of Osaka Castle completely dismantled so the new fondation for the new castle could be built.[12] He 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.[citation needed] The shogunate also built a new elevated main tower, five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside. Construction of the tenshu started in 1628 and was completed two years later, about the same time the rest of the reconstruction, and followed the general layout of the original Toyotomi structure.[4]: 153–157  However, it was built in a different part of the Honmaru (main bailey), as the base of the Toyotomi keep had actually been buried by the new Tokugawa version of the castle.[12] After a long period of construction, the new Osaka Castle was completed in 1628.[13]

In 1660, lightning ignited the gunpowder warehouse and the resulting explosion set the castle on fire. In 1665, lightning struck and burnt down the tenshu.[4]: 157 

Kajisuke Nakama was one of the hatamoto guards that protected Osaka Castle. On 15 May 1740, when he was 25-year-old, he stole 4,000 ryō of gold inside. However, the crime was soon discovered by the shogunate, so he was arrested and confessed. Although he was a samurai, he was dragged around the city and sentenced to crucifixion in September. Later, this incident became a legend and the contents changed, so it is said that he was a thief who wanted the gold that Toyotomi Hideyoshi had dropped in the Kinmeisui Well.[14][15][16]

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. A number of the castle buildings were burned in the civil conflicts surrounding the Meiji Restoration.[4]: 157  The Honmaru Palace was lost during the Boshin War. In its place the Kishū Palace (紀州御殿 Kishū Goten) was moved here from Wakayama Castle to serve as an imperial state guest house, named later Tenrinkaku.[17][18][19][20]

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.[21]

In 1931, the ferroconcrete tenshu was built.[4]: 157 

Osaka castle grounds serving as a part of the Osaka Army Arsenal, June 1945

During World War II, the arsenal became one of the largest military armories, employing 60,000 workers.[21] American bombing raids targeting the arsenal damaged the reconstructed main keep 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 keep to its Edo-era splendor. In 1997, restoration was completed. The keep is a concrete reproduction (including elevators) of the original and the interior is intended as a modern, functioning museum.

Located in the Nishinomaru was the former residence of the jōdai, who were officials. The residence was the second largest after the Honmaru Palace. North of it were a number of warehouses. The site is now a park. Next to it is the Osaka State Guest House and the Hōshō-an chashitsu.

Views of the castle




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-jō Hall, also is located within the grounds of the castle park.

  • In the 1955 Toho tokusatsu film Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla's battle with Anguirus leads onto the castle grounds. The structure itself collapses when Godzilla pins Anguirus against it.
  • In the 1966 tokusatsu film, Gamera vs. Barugon, the titular monsters' first encounter is at the site of the castle.
  • The castle appears in The two-parter of the 1966 tokusatsu television series, Ultraman where the titular hero does battle with the monster Gomora on the castle grounds.
  • In 1975, British novelist James Clavell used the castle and its environs (c. 1600) as a major plot location for his most famous work of historical fiction, Shōgun.
    • In the 1980 adaptation, Himeji Castle's environs stand in for Osaka Castle.
    • For the 2024 adaptation, the castle is portrayed via CGI reconstruction with its period-accurate black lacquering, both in-story and as part of the title sequence. The interior chambers and halls were constructed physical sets.
  • The castle was featured in the finale of The Amazing Race 20, where it hosted a Pit Stop.[22]
  • In the 2002 film Suicide Club, it is reported that 200 high school girls jumped off the Osaka Castle.

See also







  1. ^ "Uemachidaichi : OSAKA-INFO – Osaka Visitor's Guide". Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
  2. ^ "Osaka Castle". GoJapanGo. Archived from the original on 2017-06-17. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  3. ^ 天守閣は物置だった?「日本の城」の教養10選 (in Japanese). Toyo Keizai. 23 June 2016. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hinago, Motoo (1986). Japanese Castles. Kodansha International Ltd. and Shibundo. p. 153. ISBN 0870117661.
  5. ^ Meek, Miki. "The Siege of Osaka Castle". National Geographic Magazine. Archived from the original on January 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  6. ^ Fujita 2019, p. 120.
  7. ^ Atobe 2019, p. 81.
  8. ^ Fujita 2019, p. 115.
  9. ^ Fujita 2019, p. 117.
  10. ^ Atobe 2019, pp. 78‐79.
  11. ^ Fujita 2019, pp. 116–117.
  12. ^ a b "Osaka Castle Wall Stone Quarry".
  13. ^ Nakamura Hiroshi (April 2006). "徳川時代の大阪城再築工事をめぐって : 甲山石切丁場と城内巨石の紹介を中心に". 時計台. 76. 関西学院大学図書館: 19. ISSN 0918-3639.
  14. ^ "[建築物]★旧陸軍第四師団司令部庁舎(MIRAIZA大阪城)(大阪市)" (in Japanese). 2019-02-11. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  15. ^ "会報「くさか史風」第8号" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  16. ^ "大坂城特別公開" (in Japanese). 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2024-03-04.
  17. ^ "【和歌山城再発見】<2>二ノ丸と紀州御殿". 22 July 2022.
  18. ^ "大阪城「本丸御殿跡・紀州御殿跡」のアクセスとその歴史". 13 January 2021.
  19. ^ "大阪城天守閣前広場" (PDF) (in Japanese).
  20. ^ "大阪城の紀州御殿は1947年9月12日に焼失したそうだが、そのことについて詳しく書かれた資料はあるか".
  21. ^ a b "Osaka Army Arsenal". Archived from the original on 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2013-02-15.
  22. ^ Jacobson, Jennifer (May 7, 2012). "The Amazing Race recap: It's a beautiful place to become millionaires". The Birmingham News. Retrieved December 31, 2019.



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