Tokyobling's Blog

Odawara Town – Old Buildings

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on December 27, 2011

Located exactly 80km from Nihonbashi (the central point of modern Tokyo and old Edo) lies Odawara town. This and the surround mountains and rivers make this one of the most difficult sections to travel on the old Tokaido road that connected all the major cities in old Japan. Hence, Odawara became known as Odawarajuku, or Odawara Lodging Inn Town and a very popular spot for spending a night on the way to or from Edo. Naturally local artisans and merchants took full advantage of this and for hundreds of year they did a roaring trade in souvenirs, trinkets, travel goods, local specialities and food especially prepared for travelers. There were 90 regular inns and 8 larger inns reserved for the samurai class and their lords, these 8 inns were the grandest inns on the entire Tokaido route. These days not many of these old inns have survived wars, earthquakes and tsunami, but a few of the original shops, many of the local specialities and at least one (that I could find) inn remains standing. The day I visited was blazing hot and I was hindered in my exploration of all the traditional shops and houses by the looming threat of sun stroke and rather than spend a couple of days in a local hospital I actually called it quits after merely sampling a fourth of all this wonderful sea side town has to offer. The next time I visit I will be better prepared and make sure I see it all!

Here’s a few of the buildings I managed to photograph. Usually I do not care much for these sorts of scenes as the ugly concrete buildings, roads and tarmac makes me sad. I wish there were more of these older buildings left, or at least that local people took more pride in their history and heritage.

The last two photos are from the Matsuhara Shrine, a shinto shrine that is famous for the giant turtle that is said to have crawled up and blessed the town in the late 16th century. It is said to have visited regularly and due to its blessing the town garrison of a mere 8000 men is said to have successfully defended the town from an invading army of 80 000 men. In honor of the giant turtle there is now a turtle statue on the grounds of the shrine, but by this point of my exploration, I had almost expired so I didn’t investigate further. Always leave something to discover for the next time you visit, I think!!

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