Japan Chronicles Part 2: Osaka Castle and Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Sunday, April 26, 2015

If you have seen the Taiga drama Gou: Hime-tachi no Sengoku, or any Taiga drama with a glimpse of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, then you will be familiar with Osaka Castle and its historical relevance. Taiga is an annual, year-long historical fiction television series in Japan. This type of dramas are quite long so if you don’t fancy history, you might be bored. But for me, it is worth watching because I learned so much about Japanese history. So basically, prior to our arrival in Osaka Castle, I already have a little knowledge about the place. 
the Majestic Osaka Castle
Let’s talk History first. You won’t appreciate Osaka Castle if we don’t. And you will not stop reading because we want to learn together, yeah? ^_^

As depicted in the Taiga drama Gou, Osaka Castle was built by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who at that time was a great samurai and regarded as Japan's second "great unifier”. He succeeded his former lord, Oda Nobunaga and ended the Sengoku period. 
Cherry Blossoms at Osaka Castle
our first glimpse of Sakura! wash surreal!
Sengoku means Warring States period. It was the time when the power of Emperor of Japan was largely ceremonial and religious. Power was delegated to the Shogun (who is like a General) and every Daimyo (local lords) swore loyalty to him. Eventually, the Shogun lost its control over the Daimyo and thus they began to fight with each other for control over the land.
Small bridge leading to the main castle
small bridge leading to the main castle
The fearless warlord Oda Nobunaga was the first to attempt to unify Japan. He was so close but one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed him. In the Taiga drama, it showed Nobunaga set fire to his castle and eventually committed suicide. I cried a lot on this part because Nobunaga trusted Mitsuhide. Though the latter managed to defeat the guards, he never found Nobunaga's remains. 

This is where Toyotomi Hideyoshi emerged as the next ruling leader of Japan. He avenged and presented Mitsuhide’s head to Nobunaga’s grave. I was really impressed with him! Such as loyal general! As soon as he established his power, he ordered a Castle to be built which would symbolise his power and fortune. He made a castle decorated with gold. See this picture below. It was how Osaka Castle looked during Toyotomi’s rule.
the original Osaka Castle and the vast land surrounding it
credits to the owner
But after Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who worked for both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi,  ended the Toyotomi lineage. His son Hidetada destroyed Osaka Castle. Ieyasu was then appointed as Shogun and established the last shogunate of Japan.  The Tokugawa rebuilt the Castle and remained under their control for so many years until it was struck by lightning and was burned down. The present-day Main Tower is the third generation and was reconstructed in 1931.
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So there! I hope I summarised it clearly and I hope you learn something today! Oyasumi! ^_^

Maki, Jett and I at Osaka Castle
very useful tripod :)
How to go to Osaka Castle:
The Castle can be accessed on a number of lines, but the closest JR station is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line.



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