Osaka CastleApprox. Time: 2 hours
Activity Level: Moderate

An impressive castle built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to be used as his headquaters. This was the famous general who accomplished the tremendous feat of militarily unifying Japan. It has twice been destroyed by fire---once in the Osaka Natsunojin War of 1615 and once in a conflagration sparked by lightning. The current castle keep was rebuilt in 1931. It stands 8 stories high and is divided into 5 levels. On display inside are screens, armor, scrolls and other articles from the region. The 8th floor observation deck gives a panoramic view of the city and the Mt.Ikoma range in the distance. A mammoth 130-ton block that was part of the original stone wall is a sight worth seeing. The area around the castle is a public park, and in one corner, there are several thousand apricot and cherry trees, which blossom beautifully in February and April. In the Nishinomaru Garden, there is a castle guest house which was built for the 1995 APEC Ministerial Meeting.

Courtesy of Japan Tourism Board.