The origin of Osaka Castle dates back to the end of the 16th century, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the construction of a large defensive fortress to become the ruling center of the country. Upon completion in 1597, however, Hideyoshi died and the castle's control was inherited by his young successor. In the summer of 1615 the castle fell to Ieyasu Tokugawa, ending Hideyoshi's rule and giving birth to the Tokugawa Shogunate.
During its history Osaka Castle was restored, expanded and damaged in several battles and civil conflicts, but was finally burnt down by imperial loyalists in 1868, when the feudal system fell. The present tower is a reconstruction made of reinforced concrete which was built in 1931 and restored in 1995. Although the castle keeps its original external appearance, walls and moats, the interior is a completely modern structure equipped with elevators, which hosts a comprehensive museum centered in the figure of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
The castle is surrounded by a large park which covers an area of around 2 squared kilometers and features several hundreds of cherry trees, making it one of Osaka's most popular cherry blossom viewing spots during Spring. The castle surroundings can also be enjoyed by riding the Aqua Liner boat cruise, which offers tours across the Okawa River, from Osaka Castle to Nakanoshima, during a 1 hour ride.