THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 23/10/2014
OSAKA--Visitors to Osaka Castle Park can soon take a trip back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) where they can dress up like a samurai and dine in restaurants that recreate the feel of those olden times.
The Osaka city government on Oct. 16 selected the firm that will manage the Edo Period theme park that will be situated on the grounds of the castle, originally constructed in the 1580s by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598).
The theme park, scheduled to open within the next fiscal year, will be located directly in front of Osakajokoen Station on West Japan Railway Co.'s Osaka Loop Line.
Attractions in the theme park will include a photo studio that allows visitors to be photographed in samurai outfits and restaurants that let customers experience the Osaka of the Edo Period.
The building erected in 1931 near the main castle building that served as the Imperial Japanese Army's 4th Division headquarters until the end of World War II will be renovated to house cafes and restaurants. The building had been used as a city museum from 1960, but was left unused since it closed in 2001. The Japanese-style guesthouse inside the castle grounds will become a party venue.
The jogging course that extends across the castle grounds, used regularly by local residents, is planned to be renovated as well. New changing rooms for joggers will be erected.
The theme park will be managed by a consortium made up of the Kansai branch of advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and major housing firm Daiwa House Industry Co.
The consortium was chosen from the two organizations that applied for the position and will be in charge of the park's management for 20 years from April 1, 2015. Under the deal, the Osaka city government will receive an annual set fee of 226 million yen ($2.12 million) and 7 percent of the profits made through the facility, which is estimated to total 20 million to 90 million yen annually.
"The city will be receiving revenue, instead of the usual management of a facility using taxpayers' money," Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto told reporters on Oct. 16. "We don't plan on applying unreasonable restrictions, so I hope many people will make full use of the facility."