A Trip to Osaka Castle、Part 1: The Tower

It was Sunday, but I had no idea where there was a church because I was in Japan, not Korea. If I were in Korea, there is a church on almost every street corner, but not in Japan, so I just had a devotional alone in my hotel room Sunday morning.  About lunch time, I decided I needed to head for Osaka Castle, but I realized it was lunch time, so I stopped at a convenience store and got some tuna 恩に利(ongniniri), a rice ball with tuna and mayonnaise inside and seaweed outside, and おもち (omochi), a rice cake with sweet bean paste inside.  I took it with me and walked down to Osaka caste.

My lunch was a picnic of onniniri and omochi.


This was my view from where I was sitting in the park. This is just one of the many buildings on the palace grounds.
This is a close of view of the same building.
The tower was in a distance. I took a picture through the trees and then enlarged it so you could see it. that is what I want to see.

I stopped in the park and sat on a park bench to each my lunch with a view of the castle through the trees. After I had eaten my lunch, I headed on into the castle. There were lots of tourists. It made no difference that it was Sunday.

Here is a map of the palace grounds that was at the entrance.


The map explained that there were lots of different buildings. The first one on the left as you go in was used as a guest house, etc.  However, what I really wanted to see was the main tower.

This is the entrance to the castle from afar.  The stone bridge begins to the left.
This is the first building to the left after you enter the stone walls that surround the castle grounds. It was guest quarters.

I crossed the bridge that went into the castle grounds.  There were two tall stone walls around the castle grounds. I just kept walking because where I wanted to go was the tower.

Korean tourists

As I walked toward the stone bridge that crossed into the courtyard of the tower, I heard someone speaking Korean and teaching Japanese to some Koreans. I looked around and there was a Korean tour group with the tour leader telling them that  きれい”kirei” means “arumdouayo,”  “pretty” or “beautiful” in English.  I heard Japanese people saying things like とづ別 “tokubetsu” which means “special” in English.  There were people everywhere who had come to see the castle.


a full set of samurai armor

In the court yard, I saw a line of people standing to pay to put on samurai armor.  It was mostly the kids who wanted to wear the samurai armor.

I said ”差審をできますか” (sashin o dekimasuka?) meaning “Can a do a picture?”, and he stopped and let me take his picture.

I saw a man completely dressed in black. I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be a samurai or if he was one of those guys in Japan who are completely dressed in black, so he isn’t supposed to be there because he reminded me of the puppeteers when I went to see Bunraku at the National Theater in Tokyo.  They were wearing masks and completely dressed in black.  Bunraku is the traditional Japanese puppets, and the puppeteers are on stage with them completely dressed in black, and that signifies that they aren’t there. Perhaps this guys was dressed as a samurai, or perhaps he had a job that said it was supposed to look like he wasn’t there.

Here is the tower I had come to see.

I learned that there wasn’t supposed to be any pictures taken in the museum part of the tower, but there was a lot I could take pictures of on the first floor.  I also sat in on a movie. I took pictures of the movie, but the quality of the pictures was so bad you can’t see anything on those.  However, I learned a lot from the movie.

Evidently, Hideyoshi Toyotomi of the Tokugawa shogunate was the ruler of this castle.  He was a warrior, statesman, and poet, but not a scholar. He is the man who fought wars to unite all of Japan, and then he went into Korea to try to unite them to Japan too, but the Koreans won, so he was unsuccessful in the campaign in Korea.   The movie was about his writings, many of which were letters sent from the battle front back home.

His letters were all written in hiragana (the basic Japanese alphabet).  While others of his day were signing their names with elaborate kanji (Chinese characters), he used a stamp.  His letters were full of misspellings and words crossed out. He wrote letters to his mother, his wife, his kids, his adopted son, and his concubine.  He also wrote poetry under the pen name Matsu, so if you see any poems written by Matsu, that is Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the man who ruled in Osaka Castle and united all of Japan.

I took this picture on the stone bridge outside of the courtyard for the tower.  This is the kind of building that Hideyoshi Toyotomi would have lived in.

Hideyoshi Toyotomi didn’t live in the tower.  The tower was built as a kind of lighthouse on land and a look out tower.  The Japanese were completely different from the Koreans in their approach to defense.  The Koreans built their houses way out in the mountains, on the top of the highest mountain and put steep stairs up to the building.  By the time their enemies, like Chinese or Japanese, got to the top, they were so out of breath they couldn’t fight.  They made a law that no one was allowed in Korea or out of Korea because they didn’t want anyone to know they were there because they actually didn’t want to fight at all.  The Japanese were completely different.  They put gold on this tower so people could see it from far away, especially the samurais.  They also used the tower as a military look out tower.  Hideyoshi Toyotomi didn’t live in the tower even though it is the fanicest looking building on the castle grounds.

He is holding sakura, Japanese cherry blossoms.

This picture is what the pictures in the movie were like that were such poor quality I didn’t share them. This was a portrait hanging on the wall of the first floor.

There was a big long painting alone one wall. I had to take two pictures trying to get most of the picture in.

This samurai helmet was on the first floor, so I could get a picture.
Another Samurai helmet
There were lots of samurai helmets. These are just three of them.
Here are some samurai swords.
Here are suits of samurai armor.
Here is a Japanese dance fan that was in a glass case.
Here is a poster of someone doing either Kabuki. Kabuki is the Japanese form of traditional theater.  He is holding a Japanese dance fan.  Yes, even the men carried fans.
Here are some fans that were up on the wall for sale.
This plate has a map of the castle grounds on it.
a ceramic fan with a picture of the tower inside 
If you look on the picture at the beginning of this blog when I took the picture of the tower from far away. There are pictures of tigers in gold on the outside of the tower.  Here are some models of tigers.  When I was in the movie, they said they always had pictures and models of tigers around.
“Sakura,” Cherry Blossom, Omochi for sale

As I said before, “omochi” is Japanese rice cakes with sweet beans in the middle.  Whenever you go site seeing in Japan, there are different kinds of omochi where ever you go. The Japanese buy these and take them home to share with family and friends when they go site seeing. When I taught in the language school in Japan, there were teachers bringing different kinds of omochi from places they had been and sharing them with the rest of us. Sakura is extremely important in Japan.

This blog just keeps getting fuller and fuller.  I have decided to leave off for now and share the rest of the castle in another blog.  There is a lot for you to see just in this blog.  Japan is an extremely interesting place just like Korea.  Some of the Japanese actually came from Korea in ancient times, the royal family of ones who were down by Busan when Korea was three separate states. When the Koreans went to war to unite the three states, the royal family went to Japan and married into the Japanese royal family.  No wonder the Japanese always wanted to make Korea part of them.


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