Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Osaka Castle - Japan

Impressive structure.
Very close to the CBD of Osaka , so well worth a visit.
Construction of the original castle began in 1583 and the building was completed in 1597.
The current main tower at Osaka Castle is a concrete reconstruction of the 17th-century castle and was completed in 1931.
Osaka castle is very important in the history of Japan. It played a major role in its (Japan's) unification during the samurai era of the sixteenth century.
It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi .

The castle became the center of the new unified Japan under Toyotomi rule and brought with it a short period of peace after centuries of civil war.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi looks like an interesting character.
He was born of no traceable samurai lineage, being the son of a peasant-ashigaru (foot soldier) named Yaemon. He had no surname, and his childhood given name was Hiyoshi-maru (日吉丸) ("Bounty of the Sun"). How he rose to his final position of power only he probably knows. He was the general who first united all of Japan.

The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside.
The 3 extra stories are underground.
 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.

 Pictures of the outer moat.
The 16th & 17th centuries were the time of  shogunate & the Samurai.

There were eight giant fusetora (golden tiger) decorations and golden shachi (a mythical creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp) roof ornaments. These were believed to protect the castle against fire.
In 1597 construction was completed and Hideyoshi died the year after. Osaka Castle passed to his son, Toyotomi Hideyori who was just 4 years old. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu Tokugawa, who worked for Hideyoshi as a senior retainer, was appointed to the Shogun and he established the shogunate (government) in Edo (Tokyo)  in 1603.

The castle grounds cover approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres).
The massive stones, (the largest weighing about 130 tons), were transported from all over Japan, but principally from the islands of the Inland Sea.
The first Shogun of Japan, Ieyasu Tokugawa, accused Toyotomi of treason. This was his excuse to lay siege to his castle in 1614 (The Winter Seige).

The Toyotomi forces were outnumbered by approximately two to one, but somehow managed to fight off the 200,000 Tokugawa-led samurai army. Part of the terms of truce included the filling up with soil of the moats of Osaka Castle thus rendering them useless.

However, my the next year, the Toyotomis began digging up the filled-in moat.
So the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu attacked again in 1615. This is known as the second (or Summer Seige) of Osaka Castle. The castle was this time destroyed and the Toyotomi dynasty ended.
The Tokugawa Shogunate, would rule Japan for the next 250 years.

View from the top floor of Osaka Castle

Hideyori Toyotomi, along with his mother, killed themselves as Tokugawa’s soldiers set the castle ablaze, burning everything to the ground.

But Osaka Castle was rebuilt.
Tokugawa completed this second version of Osaka Castle in 1629.

 In 1660, there was a huge explosion when lightning struck the gun powder storage room. The explosion blew most of the castle to pieces.

In 1868, the castle was again razed to the ground. Rather than surrender to the anti-shogunate forces of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 the castle was destroyed.

After this, what was once Osaka Castle, became the property of the Japanese military and was converted to an arsenal. It produced everything from guns to cannons. This was possibly the reason Osaka became a target during WWII.

The current Osaka Castle dates from 1931. The main tower survived the firebombing raids of WWII.
This 3rd version of Osaka Castle combined the two previous castles. Hideyoshi’s palace was rebuilt on top of the stone walls from the Tokugawa Period.

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