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Odawara Castle, Japan


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Odawara Castle, Japan (Known places)
Odawara Castle, Japan (Known places)
Odawara Castle, Japan (Known places)
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Information about Odawara Castle, Japan

Odawara Castle (小田原城, Odawara-jō) is a landmark in the city of Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.


Odawara was a stronghold of the Doi clan during the Kamakura period, and a fortified residence was built by their collateral branch, the Kobayakawa clan stood on the approximate site of the present castle. After the Uesugi Zenshu Revolt of 1416 (605 years ago), Odawara came under the control of the Omori clan of Suruga, who were in turn defeated by Ise Moritoki of Izu, founder of the Late Hōjō clan in 1495 (526 years ago). Five generations of the Late Hōjō clan improved and expanded on the fortifications of Odawara Castle as the center of their domains, which encompassed most of the Kantō region.

During the Muromachi period, Odawara Castle had very strong defenses, as it was situated on a hill, surrounded by moats with water on the low side, and dry ditches on the hill side, with banks, walls and cliffs located all around the castle, enabling the defenders to repel attacks by the great warriors Uesugi Kenshin in 1561 (460 years ago) and Takeda Shingen in 1569 (452 years ago). However, during the Battle of Odawara in 1590 (431 years ago), Toyotomi Hideyoshi forced the surrender of the Late Hōjō clan through a combination of a three-month siege and bluff. After ordering most of the fortifications destroyed, he awarded the holdings of the Late Hōjō to Tokugawa Ieyasu.

After Ieyasu completed Edo Castle, he turned site of Odawara Castle over to one of his senior retainer, Ōkubo Tadayo, who reconstructed the castle in its present form on a considerably reduced scale, with the entire castle fitting inside what was the third bailey of the original Late Hōjō castle. Aside from an interruption from 1619-1685, during which time the Inaba clan extensively renovated the castle, the Ōkubo clan ruled over Odawara Domain from Odawara Castle until the Meiji Restoration.

Tokugawa Iemitsu, the 3rd Tokugawa Shōgun, visited Odawara Castle in 1634 (387 years ago). The donjon built by the Inaba was destroyed in an earthquake in 1703 (318 years ago), but was rebuilt by 1706 (315 years ago). The new Meiji government ordered the destruction of all former feudal fortifications, and in compliance with this directive, all structures of Odawara Castle were pulled down from 1870-1872, with the stone base of the former donjon becoming the foundation for a Shinto shrine, the Ōkubo Jinja, dedicated to the spirits of the generations of Ōkubo daimyō. In 1909 (112 years ago), the Odawara Imperial Villa was constructed within the site of the former inner and second bailies. The Imperial Villa was destroyed by the 1923 (98 years ago) Great Kanto Earthquake. Repair work was made to the stone walls from 1930-1931, but with very poor workmanship. In 1935 (86 years ago), two of the remaining yagura (which had been destroyed in the 1923 (98 years ago) earthquake) were restored, but on a half-scale. In 1938 (83 years ago), the castle site was proclaimed a national historic monument, with the area under historic preservation restrictions expanded in 1959 (62 years ago), and again in 1976 (45 years ago) based on further archaeological investigations.

In 1950 (71 years ago), repairs were made to the stone base of the former donjon, which had been in ruins since the Great Kanto Earthquake, and the area was made into the Odawara Castle Park, which includes an art museum, local history museum, city library, amusement park and zoo. The three-tiered, five-storied donjon, the top floor of which is an observatory was rebuilt in 1960 (61 years ago) out of reinforced concrete to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of Odawara as a city. However, the reconstructed donjon is not historically accurate, as the observation deck was added at the insistence of the Odawara City tourism authorities. Plans have been discussed since the late 1960 (61 years ago) on a more accurate restoration of the central castle grounds to its late Edo period format. These plans resulted in the reconstruction of the Tokiwagi Gate (常磐木門) in 1971 (50 years ago), the Akagane Gate (赤金門) in 1997 (24 years ago), and the {{nihongo|Umade Gate|馬出門|)} in 2009 (12 years ago).

The reconstructed Odawara Castle was listed as one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan (as chosen by the Japan Castle Foundation) in 2006 (15 years ago).


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