Tokyobling's Blog

Odawara Castle

Posted in Places by tokyobling on September 5, 2011

Last month I finally got to do my belayed trip to the city of Odawara in Kanagawa prefecture to the south-west of Tokyo. Getting there from Tokyo is not difficult at all but it’s a couple of hours by train unless you go by the high speed Shinkansen bullet trains (fast but expensive). Traveling inside and out of Japan is very expensive compared to many other countries, real low cost airlines and bus companies have so far avoided the country and many times a decent domestic vacation can cost many times as much as a comparative domestic vacation in any European or Asian country. This has resulted in a situation where many Japanese avoid domestic tourism due to costs and it isn’t very rare meet people who have never traveled outside of their home prefecture or even home town. For some Japanese the only real chance they have to see the rest of the country is during one of the obligatory school trips during junior and senior high school, usually to Hiroshima, Tokyo or Kyoto. For this reason, Odawara is a pretty good place to visit if you’re based in Tokyo. It is easy to get there, lot’s of history and a few nice beaches! It also feels much more like a southern ocean resort town than other towns in Kanagawa, Chiba or Tokyo.

The main draw of the city’s tourism is the Odawara Castle (). Located on slightly higher ground than the town it was a good defensive spot and fortified by bigger and bigger castles until 1870 when the castle was ordered destroyed like all feudal fortifications as the new imperial era started with emperor Meiji. In the 1950s, after a civil war, a world war and quite a few major earthquakes the castle was finally revived but not much of what we can see today is original. In a country mostly spared the ravages of gunpowder artillery, most castles were originally built in wood, but these days most of the castles are unfortunately built out of concrete, which is one of the reasons I never bother to go inside. There are a couple of original wooden castles left and they are a joy to see from the inside!

However, from the outside the castles look fantastic, Odawara castle is no exception. Looking at the photos, it struck me that it really looks more like a toy than a real building!

Parts of the castle grounds and the many defensive gates have been restored more or less realistically (there is a “cut through” wall section on the grounds where you can see how these castles were actually built, lath and plaster, very much like the old English Tudor style mansions), and if you have the stamina it’s nice to walk around the castle and imagine how it once must have looked.

And I am not sure why I know this, but it seems that the official day for Castles here in Japan is April 6th. Just like the official world day for mathematics is March 14th. Let’s remember this for next year!

If you spend any more than a couple of weeks in Tokyo, Odawara is a must-see. More on this great little city later! If you want to read about other castles I have blogged about, please check out the beautiful Matsumoto Castle, the cute Kakegawa Castle, Shuri Castle in Okinawa, the ruins of Hachioji castle, and of course the papercraft castle!

Oh, and if anyone is keeping count, this is the 900th published post here on Tokyobling! I think I deserve a small cake. And maybe some tea.

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10 Responses

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  1. Timi said, on September 5, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I would live in it :D but I would create a bigger/greener garden (or maybe a chocolate factory and I will send some sweets for the 900th post ^o^/)

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 5, 2011 at 5:36 am

      Haha… actually, many castles have turned the dried out moats into “victory gardens” or even deer farms! Thanks Timi, now I’m busily preparing for the 1000th post! (^-^) …which should be sometime just before Christmas!

      Like

      • Timi said, on September 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        Hopefully a white one! ^-^ if it will be, make sure to post a picture!

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        • tokyobling said, on September 6, 2011 at 12:41 am

          So far I have never seen a white one in Tokyo! (^-^;)

          Like

  2. Lili said, on September 5, 2011 at 6:05 am

    I really like Japanese castles, so different of our French ones (I like them too ;) )
    They are aesthetic and graceful
    They make me think of fairytales castles :)
    And, I’m so in love with Japanese roof tiles!!!
    I offer you assorted cakes and tea for your 900th post….
    Go go to the1000th one :)

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 5, 2011 at 6:12 am

      Thanks Lili! Well, if there is one thing I miss from France it’s the castles! Château de Chantilly for example, it make my mouth water just to think of it! I also love Japanese roof tiles, one of the saddest things I saw in the north after the tsunami was all those destroyed temples and shrines, crushed roof tile everywhere. (X-X)

      I’ll do my best to keep on blogging at least to post mille et un!

      Like

  3. Emma Reese said, on September 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I have been to Akashi Castle with my husband and our eldest daughter when she was two (ancient again!) Japanese castles are serene and have simple beauty just like many other things in Japan.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Akashi Castle? I have never been there! My Kansai experiences are so far pretty limited. Every time I go to Kansai I just end up in Kyoto or Nara. Two lovely cities but I suspect I am missing out on all the rest! Thanks for the tip! (^-^)

      Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 6, 2011 at 12:42 am

      I agree, Kobe is wonderful. I just need more reliable local transportation to be able to explore the surroundings a little bit better…. (^-^)

      Like

  4. Emma Reese said, on September 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Even if you don’t go to Akashi Castle, Kobe is worth visiting. We used to live there on the slope of Rokko Mountain looking down at the city of Kobe.

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