Osaka castle and the turning point

On early January in 2017, my sister and I went to short trip to Osaka and Kyoto. One of the most tourist spots I wanted to visit in the trip was Osaka castle because I really like reading war history novels like Sanguo(korean:Sam Kuk Ji, Japanese: Sankoku) and Sengoku era history novels.My favorite Japanese novel is ‘Tokugawa Ieyasu’ by Yamaoka Sohochi. The book entails Tokugawa Ieyasu’s life and other Daimyō(Japanese feudal lords) during Sengoku era when Japan was in turmoil with a lot of wars among Daimyō.

Here is a bit of history about the castle and it’s part of the story in the novel. Oda Nobunaga rose as the most powerful Daimyō in the late 16th century and his ambition was unifying Japan under his rule. However, before he accomplished his dream, his general rebelled against him and eventually he killed himself in Honno-Ji. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was also one of Oda’s generals seeking vengeance for the death of his beloved lord and he eventually succeeded Oda after he got rid of the rebel against his lord in 1582. In 1583, he built Osaka castle and the castle was invincible with two layer moats.

So my sister and I got to the nearest subway station and walked to the castle for 20 minutes. The castle is located on the higher part of the land so you have to climb a little bit.


This is the inner moat that still has water in it. From reading the book, it emphasized that how moats were well built against invasion and now I can see it!


While we were walking up to the castle, we also saw this big tree and decoration. The weather was rainy so it looks kind of desolate in the picture.


And here we are. Korea doesn’t have this multi-story castles at all and this one is at least five-story-castle. The castle looks clean so I guess it was renovated.

Inside of the museum was actually like museum about Sengoku era ,some Samurai armors, swords and folding screen arts.

top castle

It’s the view when you got to the highest floor in the castle. Now there are a lot of tall buildings but it must have been a lot of traditional Japanese houses and farms when the castle was just built. When there was a war against Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi’s clan could have seen cruel scene of wars where a lot of people were killed.


As I mentioned earlier, there were some exhibitions about Osaka castle. This one is about Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 which is a major turning point in Japanese history. Tokogawa Ieyasu won over the son of Hideyoshi and eventually opened his era, “Edo period(Edo jidai)”

This is the most featured folding screen paintings in the castle. We can see it’s pretty universal that the most affected war victims are not soldiers but ordinary people. Especially for women, it was likely to get raped in that circumstance.

In 1614,the Toyotomi clan rebuilt the castle and it is said that the clan wished them prosperous and cursed Tokugawa. It meant treachery against the shogunate, Tokugawa. Tokugawa attacked Toyotomi in the winter, starting the Seige of Osaka from 1614 and 1615. Although the Toyotomi forces were outnumbered approximately two to one, they managed to fight off Tokugawa’s 200,000-man army and protect the castle’s outer walls. Although Tokugawa won but he felt he needed to stop the war for a while since it’s winter and they were running out of food.Ieyasu had the castle’s outer moat filled by negotiation that he won’t invade the castle for a while.

In April 1615, Ieyasu received word that Toyotomi Hideyori (son of Hideyoshi) was gathering even more troops than in the previous November, and that he was trying to stop the filling of the moat.In the end, Tokugawa won and he got rid of all Toyotomi’s clan. Now the center of Japan became compeltely Tokyo, not Osaka &Kyoto area anymore.

After touring the castle, I was wondering what if the son of Hideoyoshi didn’t agree to fill the moat?  What if  Hideyori just obeyed Tokugawa and satisfied with lower status? What if Tokugawa lost in Battle of Sekigahara? What if Hideyoushi didn’t have a son? There were a lot of “what-if” questions emerged in my brain. Every choice can make differences. In this case, it became the turning point of Japanese history.

Either way, the history has always been written by the winner.


Author: amysfernweh

Hi, this is Amy. I'm a data scientist but I like reading, going to art museums and traveling for my free time. If you want to connect with me, shoot me an Thanks!

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