Japan , Kansai , Osaka City , Osaka castle.
JosÈ Fuste Raga/© JosÈ Fuste Raga
Osaka Castle was originally built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with construction begun in 1583. The plan to make it the fanciest castle in the country went so far as to cover the tower with gold leaf, but it wasn’t merely pretty: The castle held up in battle after battle until it was finally conquered in 1615. It remained a power center until World War II, when bombing raids destroyed much of it. What’s there now is the result of a complete reconstruction in 1997 (movie buffs may also recognize the castle as having been razed by King Kong and Godzilla in 1962, and by Godzilla and a giant rose in 1989). The museum inside displays lots of old weapons, and the original construction plan is interesting, but true castle lovers should head an hour south to Himeji (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).