26 June 2016

Osaka (Japan) - Framing Nihon History with Osaka Castle

Date of Exploration : 31 Mar 2016

Perched within a moated fortress watching over the city, Osaka Castle (Ōsakajō 大阪城) is one of Japan's top historical links to the nation's imperial past and the site where the unification of Japan was conceived. With such a rich history and magnificent architecture, I was eager to explore the castle and hopefully snap some picturesque photos. I wasn't disappointed.

Our visit coincided with the annual sakura season and what a spectacular time to see Osaka Castle!
Osaka Castle Park

The castle sits in the middle of a sprawling park with over 600 cherry blossom trees and a collection of trees and plants that colour themselves according to the changing seasons.

When we arrived at Osaka Castle Park, I was immediately bewitched by the open large spaces, neat lawns and alluring tranquility.

The park is like a canvas where spring, autumn and winter paint their colours.

To get to Osaka Castle, we had to cut through the park surrounding it. A stroll in the park was a nice prelude that built up the anticipation to see the castle.

I don't know the species of the tree but it has such an unusual structure and form! Used it to frame part of the citadel that marks the walled compounds of Osaka Castle.
Becoming a Castlenova

Personally, I feel that the best way to appreciate Osaka Castle is not upclose but from afar with many rewarding spots to frame the castle around the park grounds.

Osaka Castle given the Halloween treatment by framing it between two trees yet to let spring regrow what they lost to winter.

A hole in the foliage that formed a natural frame to capture the castle.

Nature and architecture.

More flower power to photograph Osaka Castle with.

Enough of the flowers, here's capturing Osaka Castle with banners of one of its representative insignias. I've become something of a castle casanova looking for various ways to lovingly frame the castle. Heh heh...

The best time to photograph Osaka Castle is in the late afternoon when the setting sun illuminates the embellishments with its golden rays, making them glimmer.
Exploring Osaka Castle

Construction of the castle began in 1583 but it wasn't until 1931 that its current concrete form was completed. The castle has a tumultuous past that saw it destroyed twice - once in 1615 when invading forces from a rival Japanese warlord razed it to the ground and another time when lightning struck in 1665 and burnt it down.

The castle was abandoned for a period of time and it wasn't until 1997 that the troubled castle was restored to its former stature and glory.

Hello from Osaka Castle!

Entrance fee for Osaka Castle - ¥600 (adult). Opening hours during my visit was 9:00am to 7:00pm. We arrived at the castle at 3:36pm after about 45 minutes spent taking photos while cutting through the park.

I think we arrived at a perfect timing as we got good daylight to see the surroundings when we climbed up to the top of the castle and when we left, the setting sun lit up the face of the castle for some nice photos of it as we crossed over to another part of the park.

Osaka Castle has a five-tiered exterior but an interior with 7 levels. You can climb the stairs or take the lift to get to the top of the castle. There was a long queue for the lift so we took the stairs.

Photography is not allowed on certain levels within Osaka Castle where original relics recovered from the castle are displayed. For the remaining levels photography is permitted. These levels are the ones where the history of the castle is told through a series of holograms and this figurine ensemble that attempt to depict the great Summer Battle of Osaka.

If you had the patience to count, you'll number 307 figurines in this depiction of the Summer Battle where Osaka fell under siege.

After ascending the history, we arrived at the top that provided an aerial view of the surrounding. It's a narrow circumference for the panoramic view with a lot of tourists. It took some patience to wait to get into an ideal spot to see and snap.

Close up of the decorations on the roof. Looks like the fish just jumped out from the waters of the moat.

View of Osaka Castle Park grounds.

The face-off between nature and architecture.

Great vantage point to take in the modern cityscape of Osaka while standing on piece of history that lived through the city's evolution.

We arrived at the front of the castle and left by a path that leads to its back. A family from Hong Kong was taking a group portrait to remember their visit to this monument of Japan's shogunate history.

The icing on the cake... Thing is, which is the icing, which is the cake? Haha

With the sakura in full bloom and the classical Japanese architecture of Osaka Castle awash with the warm glow of sunset, I am thankful for the opportunity to see this grand site at its most beautiful time!

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