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Words-and-Pictures: Odawara Castle

(as seen on September 13th, 2001, on the Old Tokaido stage of the Aki Meguri)

Note: Odawara Castle is in the city of Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture.  It is Station #9 (from Tokyo) on the Old Tokaido Highway.  You can read about my visit to the castle in my Logbook.  You may also choose to start reading about my Tokaido journey at the beginning, or start at the top of my Aki Meguri pages.

Here's a quote from the Odawara Castle page on Takashi Toyooka's excellent "Castles of Japan" site:

Odawara-Jo's present layout of moats, turrets, and "kuruwa" reflects its reconstruction by Inaba Masakatsu in 1633. Its historical significance, however, is found almost a half-century before then when it was the stronghold of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's eastern enemies, the Hojo clan. When Hideyoshi's armies laid siege to Odawara in March of 1590, Odawara boasted the largest network of moats and other fortifications in all of Japan. When it finally fell in July of that year, Hideyoshi had no major forces keeping him from taking the rest of eastern Japan. After the Tokugawa bakufu took over, they used Odawara-Jo as a major line of defense against possible invasion of Edo from the west. Apparently they did not want it to be too strong, however, as they filled in some of the moats and thereby lowered its defensive capabilities.

Now here are my pictures.  Don't miss the notes at the bottom.

This is part of the old wall of the Hakoneguchi Gate--the gateway that leads to Hakone, tomorrow's destination. Behind it is a modern school on the site of a school for samurai's children.
The bridge leading onto the castle grounds from near the Hakoneguchi.

The Sumiyoshibashi Bridge.
The Akaganemon Gate.

The Ogibashi Bridge.
The Tokiwagimon Gate.

Back on my Logbook page for September 13th you can see a picture of the main "Donjon" or central keep--with me in front.

Most of the castles in Japan--including this one--are reconstructions.  The Donjon was built in 1960--five years after I was born!  The Meiji Emperor had most of the castles destroyed to prevent uprisings after he was restored to power.

One more thing about this castle: an elephant lives there.  Seriously!  Someone took a picture!  The central bailey was apparently a zoo before the castle buildings began to be rebuilt, and a few of the animals are still there.

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