Visit Odawara

If you are looking for day trips around Tokyo but you are running out of options, you can chose to visit Odawara. The city itself it may not have much to offer in order to be a stop during your first visit to Japan. Nevertheless, as I did spend a full day there you should know that are things to do and explore.

Odawara Castle

The main reason I visited Odawara it was for its castle. It is a perfect alternative to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo where you need to book a place in advance or to queue in order to get a ticket for the tour.

This castle is not so busy and you can really enjoy it at your pace. They do have an English audio-guide available online, which you can access by using the castle internet connection – it’s free, but the castle entrance is ¥500 per adult.

Odawara Castle was originally built by the Omori family in the mid 15th century and until it was sold to the Odawara town in the 19th century it has been under different autonomy, destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt a few times. The castle we see today is a more developed version of the old castle. It is a modern citadel which has been built during Inaba family ownership, then demolished and affected by earthquakes, then restored again.

  • Odawara Castle View

Apart from the history of the place and the exponents inside, you will also have a splendid 360 view from the top, which will leave you breathless.

Dress as a samurai

  • The Ninja team & Myself

Odawara city has a long history about Samurai and Ninja. The Samurai had been prevalent here since Heian Period (794-1185). The Hojo clan used to rule this area for hundreds of years and today is still celebrated. If you are in the town for the Hojo festival, you will be able to see people dressed in historical costumes during the big parade through the city.

However, if you still want to be a samurai, a ninja or a princess for the day, you can rent a costume from the shop near the castle. The prices are fair, ¥300 for adults and ¥200 for children.

Tokowagimon Gate Samurai Museum

Near the castle, at the Tokowagimon-Gate, there is a small museum about the spirits of the samurai. You need to pay an additional ¥200 fee to enter. But, if you’d like to see swards, armors, helmets and samurai costumes is totally worth in.

The Japanese sword is a cultural property that Japan is very proud of. It is considered a work of art and a symbol of authority. The sword is also considered the soul of the samurai because of that its high spiritual importance.

Looking at the armors and the helmets you can easily seen how they changed in time. They had to adapt to the new techniques of fighting and to the new weapons.

Hotoku Ninomiya Shrine

On one side of the castle there is a beautiful Shinto Shrine which you should visit. Show your gratitude in front of the main hall by following a few steps. Put a coin inside the box, bow twice, clap your hands twice and bow yourself once again.

If you want to have a Goshuin, the hand-write Shrine seal, you can get it from the reception. If you don’t have a handbook you can buy one from the shop nearby – but more costly than usual.

Check the pictures above to see a traditional wedding. Look at their Japanese traditional clothes, looks so different from the European white dress and the suit!

Odawara Harbour

A nice way to end your visit in Odawara is to walk around its harbor and spend some time at the beach, as I did. It’s quiet and you will see only locals. It looks like tourists don’t get until there.

Well, that’s it for a visit in Odawara. Are some museums as well and many restaurants and bars if you want to discover the culinary part too. I don’t recommend this stop for a first city in Japan, but I do recommend to definitely visit a Japanese castle – when this city becomes a very good choice.

If you are interested to read more about Japan and the places you can visit click here.

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