Nobility, castles, vast open farm lands, Shōguns, and warring samurai mounted on horseback are what you would have seen if you were to travel to Edo, or Tokyo, back in the fifteenth century. If you have come to Japan to try and get a little glimpse or feel for that era in time, or if you just have a keen interest in Japanese history and architecture, then you should make your way to Odawara Castle. Odawara Castle is one of the best kept examples of this aspect of the Japanese culture in the Tokyo vicinity.
Just about an hour and a half south of Tokyo by train, travel to Odawara city and exit the Odawara Station off of the Tokaido Line. When you exit the train station, it is just about a ten minute walk to this magnificent time capsule of long-ago. When the Meiji Government took control in the 1860’s, they ordered old reminisce of the past governing bodies, aka castles and its fortifications, to be destroyed.
The ‘donjon’ or ‘tenshu’ is the main center tower of the castle. This was also usually the most ornate and defining aspect of the castle, and was the most fortified. Fortunately for the Odawara Castle, its tenshu was preserved by being turned into a Shinto Shrine. In the early 1900’s this castle was turned into a National Historic Site, and much restoration to get it back to its previous luster was taken. Today the Castle it complete with floors of museums and artifacts of the past.
I remember as a child my aunt taking me here for the first time, and I remember how amazed I was to see the size, and beauty of this place. There is something about this castle and its surrounding land’s energy that will make you truly contemplative. Maybe it is all the wars that took place here, all the life lost, all the lives lived, or the majestic land itself. Whatever it is, once you get here, you will know...