One of the reasons for choosing Osaka to visit for holidays was Tracy Slater’s book, ‘The Good Shufu’ which revolves around her expat life with her Japanese husband in Osaka and her eventual quest to become a mom. Her description of Osaka was simple and yet mesmerizing enough that I decided to come here. In the book, Tracy takes her unwell father-in-law to walks in the Osaka Castle park. That is how I heard of it and did not even know it had been designated as UNESCO World Heritage site till much later. It was a perfect afternoon to visit the castle. After a hearty meal at Foodium, a convenience store, I suggested a visit to the castle. I felt curious about it, that’s all.
The entire place was neatly mapped out. We started with a stop at Seven-Eleven for coffee. There were tourists, locals and lots and lots of school children. I had imagined the place to be empty, but it was clearly on everyone’s travel radar that afternoon. However, the crowd failed to diminish its beauty. The entrance of the castle stood in the distance with undulating roofs and magnificent pure white walls. It was so breath-taking. It certainly transported you to feudal times.
“The center of the castle is called Hommaru and in the case of Osaka castle, the government palace was situated in Hommaru. The palace built in the Tyotami period was burned down in 1615 during summer War of Osaka. Later the Tokugawa Shogunate rebuilt the castle together with the palace but again it was burned to ashes in 1868 during the civil wars of the Meiji Restoration. In 1885 a part of the palace in Wakayami Castle was moved to this place and was called Kishu-Goten Mansion but this mansion too was burned down in 1947,” the guidebook informed.
I had a strong desire to see the castle against the backdrop of cherry blossoms. We were guided to go upto the observation deck. Osaka looked like a miniature game land from up there. The school children would not allow me to take in the whole scene in a contemplative manner. They were so cute and I kept on feeling distracted by their playfulness. I felt no more in mood to explore the historical aspect so much. I just wanted to sit the castle garden with a snack. That was we did in the end. As a certain homage, I did sit there quietly taking in the hushed pond reflecting hushed trees that were flowering.
The visit really did feel like a stroll in the park. In fact I seem to reach its lofty side only when I look back at the pictures of the castle cut off from the crowd and standing on its own. Some places are just meant to be cherished more when visited in mind’s eye.