Osaka Castle (大坂城) was the first castle I visited in Japan and I was really looking forward to it. I imagined myself in the pages of James Clavell’s Shogun. I then discovered the castle was destroyed (several times over the course of history), and the present building is a concrete reconstruction. The scenes from the Shogun mini series were actually shot at Himeji Castle.
Osaka Castle is full of history. It was constructed over a number of years (1583-1597) by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was the location for the infamous Siege of Osaka when Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated his final opponent and became the first Shogun of Japan. The entire Toyotomi clan perished and the castle was burned to the ground.
The castle was then reconstructed as a 5 storey main keep (8 storeys internally) with walls contributed by samurai clans (some of which still stand today). The castle did not have a fortunate history, it was burned down several times by lightning strikes, and most of the castle was burned during the Meiji Restoration.
Under the Meiji government, the castle became part of the Osaka Army Arsenal and and during World War II became one of Japan’s largest military armory with 60,000 workers. It was the target of American bombing raids and finally in 1945 pretty much most of it was destroyed.
It has been restored to a facsimile of what it would have looked it during the Edo period, but it is a thoroughly modern building built in concrete and feature elevators connecting the floors. Today it is a museum.
When we visited, we saw some cute kids dressed in samurai outfits, plus a fire eating man. On our way back, we passed through Osaka Castle Park and saw a group of young men playing.
Shibuya is a major commercial and retail hub, but also famous for 3 things: Shibuya crossing (the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing), Hachiko the loyal dog, and Shibuya 109 (a fashion mecca for young girls).
Kamakura is a small town popular with tourists because of attractions such as the Hasedera temple located on a hill with great views of the town, the Great Buddha bronze statue and other temples and shrines.
We discovered the Sasuke Inari Shrine by accident while walking around in Kamakura. A set of bright red torii gates lead up a hill into a shrine full of statues of foxes and fox dwellings with families.
Huis Ten Bosch is a gigantic theme park in Sasebo (near Nagasaki) that is intended to be a mini version of Netherlands, including famous buildings such as the Huis Ten Bosch palace, Stadhuis and the Domtoren.
Kurashiki has a preserved canal area that dates back to the Edo Period, when the city served as an important rice distribution center. In fact, “Kurashiki” roughly translates to “town of storehouses” in reference to the rice storehouses.
Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal Voigtländer Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy.
She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos.
More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world.
Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.