Japan Memories #8: Odawara Castle
Travel Date : 27th March (Tue)
Odawara City is situated in the southwest of Kanagawa Prefecture, and is famous for Odawara Castle, where the Hojo family, rulers of the Kanto region during the Sengoku Period (the warring states period) resided. Now Odawara is the hub of the transportation system, where major railways such as the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, the Odakyu Line, and Hakone Tozan Line all meet. The Route 1 also passes through Odawara. It is also the entrance to Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and is always busy with visitors and traffic.
More Info: Odawara Area
We woke up very early at 5+ am and had breakfast in a ‘fast-food’ like restaurant in Kanda at 6am.
Soon, we took the train to Shinjuku Station and boarded the Odakyu Express train to Odawara Station. It is a 2 hours train with an interval of 30mins.
Reaching Odawara after the comfy train ride, I found it a nice area to be. I like the quiet surroundings and beautiful flowers along the clean streets.
The Odawara Castle was supposed to be near but we took one big round walking in the wrong direction.
Fortunately, when we approached a shop owner, she was friendly and gave us a map of Odawara, pointing the directions to us so we could reach it.
The Odawara Castle was definitely worth the visit. Being the first Japanese Castle we visited (actually, also the first castle we visited), I was certainly amazed by the beauty of it. On the way, we had fun walking through the quiet streets, a sharp contrast with the busy streets of Tokyo City. The locals there appeared to be friendlier too.
We entered via Akagane-mon Gate, which we found magnificent, due to the giant doors.
Besides the castle, we saw this mini-zoo, which kept some monkeys and beautiful peacocks. One of them were exceptionally ‘show-off’ as it kept its gorgeous wings extended all the time and appearing to be posing for us to take its photograph!
We sorta regretted that we did not pay the meagre entrance fees (400 yen) to go to the interior of the main building – Donjun (Castle Tower) since we had never been inside a castle before. Oh well, we will just assume there was nothing much.
In the vicinity was a shrine which allowed people to pray for blessings and we saw the hanging plaques with wishes again. Someone even attached a “thousand origami cranes”. (千羽鶴 ) held together by strings. It is believed that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, a holy creature said to live to a thousand years.
Satisfied with our short visit, we proceeded to take the railway up to Mt. Hakone. It would be an interesting visit to an active volcano for the first time.
Our Planned Itinerary:
- Wake up and check out from Hotel Kazusaya (request to leave our luggages there for one night)
- Breakfast at Kanda and walk to Kanda Station
- Take train to Shinjuku Station
- Board Odakyu Express Train to Odawara Station
- Alight at Odawara Station and visit Odawara Castle.
(This entry is from our Travel Scrapbook of Japan in 2007)
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