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The stone wall of a castle in Osaka that was built by feudal warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi has been revealed after being hidden underground for some 400 years.

The stone wall of the former Osaka Castle was discovered in an excavation project led by the Osaka Municipal Government that began in 2013 and was completed recently. The castle wall has been shown to media.

The wall is made of natural rocks stacked on top of each other. Experts say that the excavation is key to a full understanding of the castle.

The former Osaka Castle, built by Hideyoshi in 1583, was burnt down in the Summer Siege of Osaka in 1615. The Tokugawa shogunate then buried the castle in dirt piled up to more than 10 meters and constructed a new Osaka Castle.

Researchers first discovered parts of the former castle’s stone walls in 1984 near the current castle, at a location some 7 meters underground.

The latest excavation uncovered a stone wall some 15 meters long and around 6 meters high leading to areas for the castle building and the main residence. A turret was previously mounted on the wall.

Unlike the walls of the new Osaka Castle, built with processed rocks stacked up to around 30 meters high, the excavated wall mainly uses unprocessed rocks. Parts of the wall show traces of rocks cut with wedged tools.

Some of the rocks used in the wall changed color in the fire during the 1615 battle. Roof tiles covered in gold leaf were also unearthed in the excavation.

“It is one of the earliest stone walls of a castle using rocks cut by wedged tools, so this is valuable,” Hitoshi Nakai, professor of the University of Shiga Prefecture, said. “Smaller rocks were carefully stuffed in the gaps between large rocks, so there was a focus on the aesthetics.”

The excavated castle wall will be open to the public for three days from Feb. 19, with applications to be received on the website of the Osaka Municipal Government.

The city plans to set up a facility for viewing the unearthed artifacts in 2023, and is calling for donations to cover the construction costs.

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