Day 5: Sakura at Odawara Castle

“YOU should go to Odawara and visit the castle, it’s beautiful this time of the year,” says my host as he took off to his work.
At the Odawara Castle. The donjon as if floating on cherry blossoms

I was on my own, and since I came to Japan for the sakura or the cherry blossoms, I was determined to chase it wherever it was prolific. And Odawara was my next stop.

My cherry blossom chasing spree took me to Odawara Castle.
A brief stop at the red bridge, the Tokiwa Wooden Bridge, between the NInomaru and Honmaru baileys.and leads up to the Tokiwa Gate.

Traveling around Japan today is less challenging compared five years ago during my first visit.

Directional and street signs carry the English translations below the Japanese text making the renowned destinations easier to find. With the additional information, traveling solo won’t be a problem.

Thank you for the English text.

Machida to Odawara is a 30-minute travel if took the Odakyu Line rapid train and about an hour on the local express that services more stations than the latter.
Odawara from Machida is 30minutes via the Odakyu rapid train or an hour via the local express.

I disembarked at the rapid train’s terminus, the Odawara Station in the Western Kanagawa Prefecture.

The station, built in the 1920’s and remodeled in 2005, became the gateway station to the Hakone area. The place is famous for its hot springs and the view of the famous Mt. Fuji.

The station was built in the 1920s & remodeled in 2005
The underground shopping arcade of this station is a destination in itself- the dessert section is heaven!
My destination presented itself perched on high ground upon exiting the station. The landmark Odawara Castle is a 15-minute uphill walk from the railway.
Odawara’s castle keep seen from the train station.

The castle is about 15 minutes (I have long legs) uphill walk from the Odawara station.
Enjoy the sights along the walk. I fell in love with the artistically-designed manholes & drainage covers.

Reminds me of Davao. I like it.
The path to the North entrance of the castle walking from Odawara train station.

The Odawara Castle is the most popular sightseeing spot in the city and favorite spot to view the cherry blossoms during springtime.

Area map of Odawara castle
Where do you want to go?
Odawara castle was built in 1447 in the Edo Period.
The donjon. The castle is a landmark & a popular destination during the sakura season.
Hanami with a view of the castle keep
Through history it witnessed three battles in 1561, 1569 and 1590 and went through several reconstructions and extensive renovations by its occupants, and was even rebuilt after it was destroyed in the earthquake tragedy in 1703.
Statue of Ninomiya Sontoku, a prominent 19th-century Japanese agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist & economist at the Hōtoku Ninomiya Shrine

Torii gate of the Hōtoku Ninomiya Shrine

Ema of the Shinto shrine
The prayer room
The water feature of the shrine

It was also demolished in 1872 with the order of the new Meiji government but the the stone base of the former donjon Was retained to be used as the foundation for a Shinto shrine which was ruined in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.

The old juniper tree, a castle attraction.

The castle site was proclaimed a national historic monument in 1938, and in 1950 the donjon’s the stone base was repaired and the area turned into the Odawara Castle Park.

The Hammaru Square at the castle square below the donjon.
Picnic area at the main bailey.

An art museum, local history museum, city library, amusement park and zoo are found inside the castle site.

The children’s playground of the castle ground
Areas to check out in the castle.

In 1960, on the 20th Odawara City foundation day, the three-tiered, five-storied donjon was rebuilt with the top floor used as an observation deck, an appointment not historically accurate.

A plan truer to its late Edo period format was executed, which lead to the reconstruction of the Tokiwagi Gate in 1971, the Akagane Gate in 1997, and the Umade Gate in 2009.

The Sumiyoshi-bashi bridge leads to the first outer gate of the masugati. It connects the Umadashi Gate to the Akagane Gate.
Akagane-mon, the main gate of Odawara’s second bailey.
Akagane, meaning copper, originally decorated the gate’s surface.

The Odawara Jo Tokiwagi-mon. It was named Tokiwagi, meaning evergreen, because there were old pine trees nearby. THe feudal lord believed the pine trees would stand forever and wished the same for the castle.

In 2006, the Japan Castle Foundation included the reconstructed Odawara Castle to the list of 100 Fine Castles of Japan.

Indeed the place was beautiful during springtime. It was heartwarming to watch the locals enjoying their hanami under the blooms and enchanting to catch the cherry blossom trees at the castle’s base making the castle appear as if it was floating on its delicate petals.

A sakura canopy. The path between the museum & the corner tower.

Making my way to Odawara was a good decision.

A walk under the clouds of sakura

Odawara Castle is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission at 4:30) except December 29th to January 1st. Entrance fee: ¥300 adults, ¥100 children.

*****



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