Osaka Castle Park, or Osaka-jo koen in Japanese, is a large park in the city center spreading on the surface of 2 square km. It is home to the famous Osaka Castle, several gardens and arboretums. It is the perfect place for you to recharge your inner batteries after strolling all day around the city. Osaka Castle Park is a popular hangout spot not only for tourists, but locals alike. You will see here families having a picnic under the trees, kids playing in the playgrounds, people jogging around and couples walking hand-in-hand along the magnificent moats.
The entrance to the park is free and I highly recommend exploring it on your way to the Osaka Castle. Here are some of our favorite places and activities in this green oasis.
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Osaka Castle is visually stunning from the outside and it is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. Inside the castle, there’s a museum dedicated to the amazing history of this place. You will be taken on a journey through time via small holographic images depicting the important scenes from the past. Moreover, on the top of the tower there’s a viewing platform that offers incredible views over the whole park and the city. The entrance fee to the castle tower and museum is 600 yen.
Brief history of the Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle, or Osaka-jo in Japanese, was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century. He started the construction in 1583 and it was finished in 1597. He built the castle on a former site of Ishiyama Honganji Temple that was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga, also known as the Demon King.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a Japanese samurai and feudal lord who is also regarded as the second greatest unifier of Japan. The first great unifier was before-mentioned Oda Nobunaga. He wanted the castle to be the centre of new unified Japan and at that time, it was the largest castle in the country. Unfortunately after Hideyoshi’s death it was destroyed and later in the 1665 the main tower was struck by lightning and it burnt down.
It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century when present castle tower was rebuilt and it survived the raids of the WW II.
Opening hours to the Osaka Castle
The castle is open daily from 9 am till 5 pm with the last entry at 4:30 pm. The hours can be extended during holidays and special exhibitions, however, the castle is always closed from December 28th till January 1st.
Entrance fees to the Osaka Castle
The admission fee to the castle is 600 yen.
In celebration of the Japan World Exposition in the 1970s, also known as the EXPO ‘70, two Japanese companies – Panasonic and The Mainichi Newspaper, decided to undertake a joint time capsule project. The purpose of the time capsule was to document the life of people in Japan during the EXPO ’70 that attracted over 64 million visitors from all around the world. The capsule includes over 2000 objects representing the achievements of our civilization. It was buried in front of the Osaka Castle, where you can still see a part of it today, and it is planned to be excavated and opened in 2100.
Miraiza Building is located right next to Osaka Castle, on the main square. It is a historical landmark and in the past it served as the military headquarters of the 4th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army. The unique exterior of the Miraiza Building was based on the majestic old castles of medieval Europe, which gives the whole square a special touch. Over the years it was modernized and renovated, and it was opened for public in October 2017.
Miraiza Building Facilities
Today, you will find many great shops, as well as restaurants inside the Miraiza Building to enhance your experience from your visit to Osaka.
The fairly large souvenir shop is located on the ground floor in the Miraiza Building. Besides the wide range of Osaka Castle related souvenirs, they have also a whole section of ninja and samurai goods. It is a perfect place where you can find something unique to take home with you. Moreover, it is also tax-free.
Restaurants and Cafes
There are several different restaurants within Miraiza building serving Japanese as well western cuisine.
- Tully’s Coffee – Tully’s is a coffee shop chain that originated in Seattle and they pride themselves in specialty coffee. If you need a break from all the sightseeing, you will find their café on the ground floor.
- Konamon bar Rikyu – Konamon Bar Rikyu is located on the ground floor and it serves famous Japanese octopus balls/dumplings takoyaki. These gooey balls filled with chunks of octopus are very popular street food that originated in Osaka and it would be a pity if you didn’t give them a go! Besides takoyaki they also serves different desserts and soft serve ice cream.
- Crossfield – If you are craving something gourmet, on the second floor of Miraiza building is Crossfield restaurant that serves Italian-Asian fusion food. The restaurant has a terrace lounge with views over Osaka castle and the dishes are beautifully arranged to please not only your taste buds, but also your eyes.
- Raspberry with Moon Bar – Raspberry is a high-end French restaurant that specializes in fresh produce from around Osaka.
Blue Birds Rooftop Terrace
The best feature of Miraiza building is probably its beautiful Blue Birds Rooftop Terrace with panoramic views of Osaka Castle and the park. From spring to fall, there are different events taking place here and they also offer a barbecue buffet. The drinks are only about 500 yen and the view is priceless.
If you would like to visit the rooftop, you have to take the elevator (you cannot take the stairs). The elevators are on the left side of the stairs and you have to go up to “R”.
The Osaka Castle Park is cut through with several moats, where you can embark on a scenic cruise in a small golden boat and enjoy the views over the majestic castle from a fresh point of view. You will get close to its massive stone walls that are said to be the tallest in Japan, and see engravings on them that would be normally hidden to your eye.
Tickets and opening hours
The boat tours operate every day from 10:00 with the last cruise leaving at 16:30. The cruise lasts for about 20 minutes and they leave every half hour. The tickets cost 1500 yen for an adult, but if you have purchased the Osaka Amazing Pass, the boat ride will be included in the price of the pass.
Plum tree grove
If you are visiting Osaka at the end of winter from mid-February to early March, you should pay a visit to the plum grove and arboretum. The plum trees have lovely bright pink flowers with sweet scent and they bloom earlier than famous cherry blossoms. In the arboretum you will find over 1000 of them with about a hundred different plum flower varieties.
The garden is located behind the first moat on the east side of the castle (there are signs in English so you will not miss it). It is open 24/7 and there is not extra admission fee.
In the Osaka Castle Park, you can observe many seasonal flowers growing throughout the year. Starting with the before-mentioned plum trees blooming in February, then at the beginning April you can enjoy thousands of cherry blossoms taking over the whole park, and summer months bring bright pink azaleas and fluffy hydrangeas. The park is also worth to visit in fall to admire stunning autumn foliage.
Osaka Castle Playground Equipment Square
If you are traveling to Osaka with young children, you shouldn’t miss the Osaka Castle Equipment Square. It is a kids’ playground paradise, where they can try different climbing frames and monkey bars. There is Starbucks, Lawson convenience store and vending machines nearby so parents can sit down, relax and enjoy the view on the castle.
Hokoku shrine was built in the late 1800s as an honour to the founder of the Osaka Castle – Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is a small Shinto shrine and because it is very serene, it became a popular place for Japanese couples to get married. If you are lucky you may see a beautiful couple taking their pictures here.
Hokoku Shrine is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and the entrance is free.
Nishinomaru Garden is located behind the West Outer Moat of the Osaka Castle and it has probably the best views on the castle. It is particularly popular during cherry blossom season because the flowers frame the view over the castle and create a stunning view. The garden features large manicured lawn with plenty of sports possibilities and there are over 600 cherry trees that bloom at the end of March and beginning of April. Nishinomaru Garden is, therefore, a great place if you would like to do a hanami picnic in Osaka (hanami means cherry blossom viewing party).
Entrance fees and opening hours to the Nishinomaru Garden
To keep the atmosphere in the garden quaint, you have to pay an extra fee of 200 yen (350 yen during cherry blossom season) to go inside. The garden is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
If you are visiting Osaka during winter months, you shouldn’t miss its display of winter illuminations. The illuminations light up the whole city and can be found at many places around Osaka. However, the most impressive illuminations are in Osaka Castle Park inside the Nishinomaru Garden.
Osaka Castle Illuminage is one of the most impressive winter illuminations in whole Japan. Furthermore, it will take you on a journey through Japanese history from Edo period to Meiji restoration. There are over three million LED lights around the castle that attract visitors from all over Japan. Within the garden you will also find food and drink vendors. There are also marked photo spots as well, so you will know where to take the best photos.
When to see Winter Illuminage in Osaka Castle Park
Winter Illuminage is a yearly event that usually starts in November and it is on until late February. The exact dates change every year so if you plan to visit, check their website here. The illuminations start from 5 pm and finish at 10 pm.
Admission fee to the Winter Illuminage in Osaka Castle Park
The tickets for this even cost 1500 yen per person. You can buy them in the ticket booth in front of the garden.
Osaka-jo Hall is a multipurpose arena with a capacity of 16,000 guests. It is located on the banks of Daini Neya River on the north-east of the Osaka Castle Park. Since its construction in the 1983, it has brought Osaka an array of cultural events, exhibitions, performances, sports events and ceremonies etc. It is the largest hall in western Japan. From its restaurant you can admire the cherry blossoms on the banks of the river in early April.
Visit Osaka Museum of History
If you love museums, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Osaka Museum of History. It is conveniently located on the south-west of the Osaka Castle Park. This interactive museum provides a truly comprehensive and thorough look into the history of Osaka in a very entertaining way. You will find here life-size streets with shops and mannequins dressed in costumes, as well as historical artefacts, so you will directly see how Osaka was changing through time.
You can check our article dedicated solely to this impressive museum here.
How to get to the Osaka Museum of History
The museum is located inside a modern building that serves as a NHK Broadcast Centre. It is right next to the Tanimachiyonchome metro station, where you can get with Chuo or Tanimachi metro lines.
The spaces of the museum are spread from the 7th to the 10th floor and they provide a truly stunning view over Osaka Castle.
Opening hours and admission fees
The museum is open from 9:30 am till 5 pm daily, but it is closed on Tuesdays.
The admission fee for adults is 600 Yen. For high school kids it is 400 yen and elementary or younger children can enter for free.
How to get to the Osaka Castle Park
There are several stations around the park, so you can choose which train is the most convenient for you. If you prefer to take Osaka Loop Line, you can get off at the Osakajokoen station or Morinomiya station. Both stations are surrounded by cafes and restaurants and they have direct view on the castle. The Playground Equipment Square for kids is located closer to the Morinomiya station.
If metro is more convenient for you, head to the Tanimachiyonchome station, where you can get with green Chuo line or purple Tanimachi line. The Osaka Museum of History is located next to the station.