[Japan/Osaka-Kyoto] Castles built by the most influential families In Japan history: Osaka Castle and Kyoto Nijo Castle

Apart from the food, the castle is probably another thing we loved during the trip around Osaka-Kyoto area. It represents the power, the history of shogun (the actual ruler of the country or area) and the amazing wartime defense architectures.
A brief history:
Osaka castle was started in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (丰城秀吉), the man who is regarded as Japan’s second “great unifier”. He brought an end to the Warring States period.
Nijo Castle (二条城, Nijōjō) was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu(德川家康), who used to follow Toyotomi Hideyoshi but did not respect Hideyoshi’s successor Hideyori because he wanted to become the absolute ruler of Japan. He and his successors became the Shogun and ruled Japan for almost 350 years.
Osaka castle
Osaka castle located in the middle of the Osaka castle park.


A 10-15 mins subway ride from Osaka station or Namba Station will get you there. We took JR line from Osaka station and hoop off at Morinomiya (森ノ宮駅)after 5 stops.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 2.04.08 PMAs you can see, there are a lot of different subway stations are around the park, you just need to pick the one most convenience you by use google or Hyperdia (http://www.hyperdia.com/en/)

Park: 2 hours
Castle: it has 8 levels, 1-3 hours depend on your browsing speed and your level of interest in Japan history
Cost: 600 Yen (AUD $7.5) for the castle and free for the park


Opening time: 9am-5pm but will stop selling tickets at 4:30 pm
close from 29 December – 2 Jan
If you are not so interested in the history of the castle and just want to walk around to take some photos, the park will be the best place to visit.
It has a very nice garden, an amazing view of the castle:


take a closer look at this giant castle:


it’s just pretty amazing.

After you go the tickets into the castle, before the entrance, you will be asked to choose line up either lift or stairs. There is a massive line queuing up at the lift side so we picked the stair side. it was an 8 level upstairs of a walk. if you not fit enough, I suggest you take the lift to the top level and walk your way down.
Level 8 is the top level and have the observation deck. It was 360 degree and already worth the 600 Yen in my opinion.

DSC_1025(thats the little gold dragon (??) on the corner of the castle)

The rest of the castle was all exhibition and it provides various types of media for the audience to watch and understand the history of this area. you can see the real samurai gears, and also videos about the Osaka castle during different periods.
For the full list of whats in this exhibition, check here: http://www.osakacastle.net/wordpress/wp-content/themes/osakacastle/img/pdf/english_201710.pdf

Nijo Castle

Nino Castle located at 10 min subway ride from Kyoto Station. Bus 101 just stops right in front of the door. Although the scale is smaller than the Osaka castle, it is as amazing as the previous one.

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 7.34.58 PM

We took the subway from Kyoto station to Karasuma Oike station (end of the green line) and walked about 10 mins to the front door of Nijo Castle. The cost was 230 Yen (AUD $3 )

DSC_0134This castle is also the previous emperor’s living place. the whole Castle area has 3 big parts:

  • the outer circle – Ninomaru Palace: the place that Tokugawa family stay or doing work (super fancy home office) – open to public
  • Ninomaru Garden – open to public
  • The inner circle- Honmaru: the place that the previous emperor lives – only open at special date/event

the opening hour:

Nino castle: 8:45am – 5pm but ticket sells until 4pm
Ninomaru apparently open from 9 am – 4 pm but closed when I was there (closed on 26-28 December and 1-4 January)

I read that it also close some Tuesday during some months of the year

The opening time seems really complicated to me and this is my second time here but still missed the Hinomaru. The ticket office asked us whether its matter that the Ninomaru is closed for New year reason. I didn’t realize this is actually the major sightseeing part of this castle, which has a lot of interesting and valuable stuff inside.The

inner moat:


This year is the celebration of 150 years of return the governance power by Tokugawa family to the Emperor and you can see the sign everywhere inside the Castle:


The closed Ninomaru building:


The Ninomaru garden that designed by the Japan previous emperor:

It is a very typical japan garden and its very well maintained. Even it is winter, I still enjoyed it.

DSC_0146cross Ninomaru garden, you will see the Honmaru area. The building is not open to the public.

on the way to the exit, you will also see a very nice small garden with the well-structured tea house:

DSC_0151on each side of the walking path, it has either cherry tree or Plum tree. I can imaging it would be pretty amazing when its Summer time.

I will surly come back later for the Ninomaru in the future.

A brief summary

Osaka Castle (part of day 1 Itinerary)

  • prepare half day for this
  • Traveling time is 15-20 mins if from Osaka station/ Namba station
  • Park is free, Castle is 600 yen
  • Go there early if you want encounter fewer visitors

Nijo Castle – Kyoto (part of day 5 Itinerary)

  • 10-15 mins subway from Kyoto station
  • prepare half day for this
  • best to go during summary/autumn if you go for the nature
  • mind the time, check whether it is open before you go (4pm is the last entry time)
  • Ninomaru is an important part. it close on 26 December to 4 January
  • the tickets: 600 Yen

The review belong to the same trip:

[Japan 2017/2018] Osaka: the beginning of a new trip, hotel and eating Fugu at Zuboraya Dotombori


3 thoughts on “[Japan/Osaka-Kyoto] Castles built by the most influential families In Japan history: Osaka Castle and Kyoto Nijo Castle

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