Odawara expanded as one of the most powerful warrior clan Hojo’s castle town in 16th century. In 1601 Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu started the construction of Tokaido road which links Tokyo to Kyoto for the passage of people and horses. Odawara Shuku was one of the 53 post stations along the Tokaido road and had flourished as many travellers stayed there for their 2nd night before going through harsh Hakone mountains. 95 Hatago (rest place) were in Odawara Shuku which was one of the biggest in Tokaido.
In late 19th century, politicians and novelists loved this place as holiday home or residence to enjoy beautiful mountains, rivers, sea and warm weather.
Take a look at these historic sites and buildings to enjoy a glimpse of the history.
There is no doubt that Odawara Castle is a landmark of the city. When you walk out from the Odawara Station, you are able to see the castle tower. The castle is associated with Hojo clans, one of the strongest warlords in 16th century. Five generations of Hojo ruled the castle for 100 years. Odawara castle is often described as “impregnable castle”, having river between the castle and plain land in the east, Hakone mountains range on the north and west, and the south lies spacious ocean. Outermost enclosure for defence stretched as long as 9km, containing the whole castle town, and said to be the largest in Japan at the time. Drymoat which constructed the outermost enclosure still remains in some part. (See Komin Okanenodai Ohorikiri)
Two of the greatest warlords, Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen besieged the castle but failed to get it. This was a proof that the castle had strong defence. At last, Toyotomi Hideyoshi attacked the castle in 1590, besieged for 100 days before Hojo finally surrender.
Ichiyajo (One Night Castle) at Mt Ishigaki
Komine Okanenodai Ohorikiri (Komine Dry Moat)
This is one of the place I’d like to recommend if you like to go on hiking because you need to walk up hilly road for 20 minutes from Odawara Station. You will pass Odawara High School on the way, where they used to have main enclosure of the Odawara Castle. Back in the Warring States Period, the place where now Odawara Castle stands, was used as warlord’s residence.
Komine Dry Moat was constructed in the 16th century by Hojo, in order to prepare for a war with Toyotomi Hideyoshi. By 1590, outer enclosure for defence, as long as 9km, was made by dry moat and earthwork fortification.