Monday, May 15, 2006

Golden Week Vacation Day 3: Osaka Castle


Okay, so it took me long enough to get this up here .... I confess, I'm lazy. So sue me! (Actually I just discovered netvibes.com last Monday, which sort of sucked up a lot of time.)

Anyhow, there were a number of other things I did, but none of them really blogworthy, except for this: seeing Osaka castle.

Osaka castle was built between 1583 and 1598 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the three warlords responsible for uniting Japan (the others being Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.) As you can see from the picture, it's much prettier to look at than most British castles, having quite a few decorative flourishes (British castles being generally entirely functional in appearance.) It's seen quite a bit of action over the centuries, including being the epicenter of one of Japan's largest internecine conflicts, the Siege of Osaka.

The most striking thing about the castle was how new-looking it all was. By this, I don't mean it had all been restored to a period-accurate appearance: I mean the entire castle had been comprehensively renovated. Carpeted floors. Fluorescent lights. Chickenwire around the upper walkway. There was even an elevator shaft (!!!) unceremoniously bolted to the outside of the building. Once you're inside, you might as well be in a museum almost anywhere else in the world; there's not a single visual clue that you're in one of Japan's oldest castles.

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