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From Value One, Winter 2014-2015 No.47  

Osaka Castle, a beloved landmark of the city


Many people love Osaka Castle and consider it a significant Osaka landmark. While it is well known that construction on the castle began in 1583 by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it is not as widely known that after the Toyotomi family's downfall the Tokugawa shogunate rebuilt the castle with an even larger donjon (keep or central tower). The rebuilt keep, however, burned down as the result of a lightning strike. Until its restoration in the Showa Era (1926–89), Osaka Castle was a castle without a keep for 266 years.

In 1928, Hajime Seki—then the mayor of Osaka City—proposed reconstructing the keep. The project was approved, and wholly funded by donations from citizens.

To build the keep in its original form from the days of Toyotomi, the blueprint was drawn up with only a folding screen depicting the summer campaign of the siege of Osaka to rely on. Structural steel-reinforced concrete (SRC)—the most advanced technology at the time—was chosen as the material, and in 1931, the third generation of the Osaka Castle keep was completed.


"As a monument supposed to stand forever, the keep required perfect strength," explains Mr. Yuji Miyamoto, assistant technical director of the Osaka Castle Tower. "This may have been the reason why SRC was used."

SRC is an architectural structure much favored in Japan, in which steel frames such as H beams are integrated into a concrete core to increase earthquake resistance. Alarmed by the tremendous disaster the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 inflicted, Tachu Naito—known as the father of earthquake-resisting structures, and who later designed Tokyo Tower—led the research effort into SRC.

Many of the oldest existing buildings made from SRC are in Osaka, including Osaka Castle's keep, the Osaka prefectural government office building (1927) and the Nankai Building (1932). At the time, Osaka surpassed Tokyo in population, and was so full of energy that it was called the number one city in the Orient, and had large and modern buildings being constructed one after another.

"The restoration of the Osaka Castle keep was necessary to revive a symbolic scene of Osaka, the ever-developing metropolis," Miyamoto explains. It continues to stand at the center of this city of merchants and to shine on its citizens.

The folding screen depicting the summer campaign of the siege of Osaka, the basis of the reconstruction of the external features of the castle (preserved at the keep)


Osaka Castle's keep in the process of reconstruction (preserved at the keep)


About 1.5 million people visit Osaka Castle every year




Obayashi History Museum
Le Pont de Ciel Building 3F (former head office building of the Obayashi Corporation) 6-9 Kitahama-Higashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tel: +81-6-6946-4626
Open: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (admission is available until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays and other company-designated holidays
Entrance free

Yoshigoro Obayashi founded Obayashi Corporation in Osaka in 1892. The company has built many historical structures, including the head office of Itochu Shoten, Ltd. (1915)—the first SRC structure in Osaka—the Osaka Castle keep and the prefectural government office building. Under the motto "meeting the challenges of new technology," Obayashi Corporation has constructed diverse buildings with its advanced technology. The DNA of the company that has made these creations possible is succeeded by many of the latest buildings including Tokyo Skytree®. The history of the company and the architecture of Osaka are passed down to the current generation at the Obayashi History Museum.
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