Friday, March 23, 2018

Odawara Castle

After visiting the Hotoku Ninomiya Shrine, I walked up the hill to the Odawara Castle.  

One of the early displays showed that Odawara is the 7th tallest castle in Japan.

(This English information below is from the castle. They are not my words.) The first lord of Odawara Castle is said to be Omori family.  Then, Odawara Castle became under the control of Hojo Soun from around the late 15th century to early 16th century, and continured to be maintained as the home of Odawara Hojo family, starting from the era of the second generation, Ujitsuna.  Since then, Odawara Hojo family proceded expansion of forces and territory domination based here at Odawara Castle.  Even in early modern period, Odawara Castle was regarded important as a base in defending Edo, and the castle town flourished a a post town of Tokaido.  Because of its importance, Fudai (hereditary) daimyo leading the Edo Shogunate politics have served successively as the domain lords.

In early modern period, the range of the castle's total structure built in the era of Odawara Hojo family was called "Odawara Funai", and the san-no-maru (3rd bailey) located on a lowland area and all the areas inner than san-no-maru were collectively regarded as the castle area.  As for the castle area in the era of Odawara Hojo family, only the hilly area on the west side of hon-maru was retained, which was the reason for the figure in the late warring states period could have remained there. Odawara Castle was positioned as the most important castle to protect the area west of Edo Castle.  Fudai (hereditary) daimyo who were in key posts in Edo shogunate, such as Okubo and Inaba families served as the castle lords.  In light of the fact that, in hon-maru (main citadel), there was the hon-maru palace dedicated to Shogun family, the castle was deeply related with Tokugawa family as well.

Appearance of Odawara Castle in its heyday.  Scale 1/700

As the Odawara castle town was compartmentalized according to class or occupational lines, there were the districts for warriors, townspeople, and temples as well as shrines repsectively.  The commoner (including merchant and craftsman) district consists of the 9 blocks of Tori-cho facing the Tokaido road and the 10 blocks of Waki-cho consisting of the 4 blocks paralleling along Tokaido road (on their south side) and the 6 blocks facing Koshu road, there lived also merchants and craftsmen to support the castle's economy.  The Odawara-shuku (post station) was in charge of supplying horses and carriers for transporting people and goods.  However, waiting next to this post station were the two grueling paths, the Hakone Pass on its west and the Sakawa River on its east. With nearly a hundred of hatago (inns), the four honjin (designated inns as lodgings for kaimyo and shogunate government officials) and the four sub-honjin standing side by side, the Odawara post station was so crowded.

After the warring states period, various arts and crafts gathered to and were produced in Odawara, which prospered as both castle town and post town. Unfortunately, most of documentations on the lords of Odawara Castle dissipated, even the remaining documents in the castle town or post town, were lost due to repeated disasters including earthquakes.

Odawara Castle and its castle town area have been excavated and researched at over 500 points since 1971.  Even the "broken pieces of bowls" appeared from the soil talk a lot of things, including the livelihoods of people who did not appear on the center stage of history and the Odawara Caslte's state of being full of life.  We introduce you a part of Odawara history, which had been lying under the ground until we caught a glimpse of it today through the excavation and research.

Views from the top floor


(If you are interested in Japanese Castles, check out my Castle Page to see the castles I've visited.)

There were two small museums on the castle grounds, but I'll save them for another day.  Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Wow Pamela ,very interesting i didnt realize that Japan had castles,you got some awesome pics,thankyou for sharing xx

Jen L said...

The castles are interesting - thanks for sharing!

roughterrain crane said...

At the end of this month, cherry blossoms in Odawara will be in full bloom. Are you going to the castle for hanami drinking?

Janie said...

Looks like the weather was great for your adventure.
The blossoming tree is beautiful.
I like the architecture and views, thanks for sharing.

Queeniepatch said...

A great source of information. Beautiful photos.

kiwikid said...

The view from the top of the castle is doubt that is why it is on the top of the hill!! Beautiful last photo with the reflections on the water.

Leonore Winterer said...

There are so many of these castles - I think you must have visited all of them by now, but there always seem to be more! Nad they never get boring to look at, at least the pictures don't.