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Exploring Japan's Castles: Odawara Castle

December 02, 2023

Exploring Japan's Castles: Odawara Castle

To the southwest of Kanagawa Prefecture lies Odawara City, with the gentle Sagami Bay to the south and the towering Hakone mountains to the northwest.
Its symbol is none other than Odawara Castle, a highly unique castle with remnants from both the early modern and medieval castle structures.
The extensive outer fortifications are one of the main attractions of Odawara Castle, constructed to resist the mighty Toyotomi forces.

Impregnable Fortress

During the Warring States period, the Hojo clan established Odawara Castle as their stronghold, and it earned the nickname "Impregnable Fortress" due to its ability to withstand assaults from notable daimyo (feudal lord) and military strategists such as Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin.
This played a pivotal role in controlling the Kanto region.

In the Edo period, it became the residence of Tokugawa daimyo.
Although it was decommissioned in 1870 during the Meiji era, the main tower was reconstructed in 1960, and in 1971, the Tokiwagi-mon gate, in 1997, the Kanemaru-mon gate, and in 2009, the Uma-de-mon gate were restored.
As a precious historical asset, Odawara Castle continues to watch over the city of Odawara.

A Place to Learn History

In recent years, Odawara Castle serves not only as a historical monument but also as a tourist facility where you can explore history and traditional Japanese culture. It is filled with attractions.
After passing through the Tokiwagi-mon gate, you'll reach the innermost circle of the castle, reconstructed in 1971.
Here, you'll find the "SAMURAI Museum," an exhibition center primarily focusing on swords and armor, which is sure to delight visitors from around the world.

Inside the main keep, there are displays and videos related to the history of Odawara Castle, as well as artifacts unearthed during excavations.
The exhibits are designed to cater to both history enthusiasts and those less versed in history.
They are both easy to understand and feature hidden gems that even history aficionados will appreciate.

Just 30 Minutes from Tokyo

Odawara Castle boasts an incredible location, just a 5-minute walk from JR Odawara Station. If you're traveling from the Tokyo area, you can reach Odawara Station in about 30 minutes by taking the Shinkansen from either Tokyo or Shinagawa Stations, making it an ideal day trip destination.

If you've had your fill of the bustling city life and skyscrapers of Tokyo, why not soothe your tired soul by visiting Odawara Castle, nestled amidst nature?

Japan's castles reflect the topography of their respective regions and the circumstances of their time.
Whether you immerse yourself in the history of the era, enjoy the castles as architectural marvels, explore the surrounding souvenir shops, or savor the local cuisine, visiting a castle can be a significant part of your travel experience in Japan.

You can see the rectangular and triangular openings in the wall following Uma-de-mon, the main gate. These openings were used to shoot arrows and firearms at the enemy.

Operating Hours

Both the main keep and SAMURAI Muesum are open year-round from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last admission at 4:30 PM).
Closed on December 31st to January 1st (the main keep is closed on the 2nd Wednesday of December for facility maintenance).

For the most up-to-date information and admission fees, please visit the official website.

Book Your Shinkansen Ticket to Odawara in advance!

The quickest and most convenient way to reach Odawara Castle from the Tokyo area is by taking the Shinkansen. You can easily enjoy your trip to Odawara by booking your tickets in advance through the following link.

Shinkansen Ticket Online Booking : Tokyo to Odawara

Shinkansen Ticket Online Booking : Odawara to Tokyo

Shinkansen Ticket Online Booking : Shinagawa to Odawara

Shinkansen Ticket Online Booking : Odawara to Shinagawa