A Visual Guide to Japan – Odawara Castle

Text and photos by Mike Sullivan

Odawara Castle (小田原城) is located in Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture. Once upon a time, during the Muromachi period, this castle was renowned for having very strong defenses, at that time it was on a hill with a moat. After being stormed in 1590 most of it was destroyed and consequently ownership of it was given to a retainer of Ieyasu, Ōkubo Tadayo, who built a new castle which was much smaller than its previous incarnation.

During the Meji period the new government unfortunately decided to destroy all former feudal fortifications, which meant that the castle was destroyed in the 1870s. However, nearly 70 years later, in 1938, the castle site was proclaimed a national historic monument. The three-tiered, five-storied donjon which can be seen today was built in 1960. However, there have been concerns since then about how historically accurate it is, so in 1971 the Tokiwagi Gate (常磐木門) was rebuilt, followed a few years later by the reconstruction of the Akagane Gate (銅門), and more recently the Umade Gate (馬出門) was rebuilt in 2009.

In 2006 Odawara Castle was listed as one of the 100 Finest Castles of Japan.

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