Odawara Castle
Odawara Castle 2
Built: 1447, rebuilt 1633, 1706
Built by: Doi clan
Demolished: 1872
Occupation: Doi clan
Kobayakawa clan
Hojo clan
Toyotomi clan
Tokugawa clan

'Odawara Castle ' is a castle that acted as a base of operations for the Hojo clan during the Sengoku period. It is a landmark in the city of Odawara in Kanagawa Prefecture.


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 Zenshu Uesugi Revolt of 1416, Odawara came under the control of the Omori clan of Suruga, who were in turn defeated by Soun Hojo of Izu, founder of the Late Hojo clan in 1495. Five generations of the Late Hojo 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 great warriors like Kenshin Uesugi in 1561 and Shingen Takeda in 1569. However, during the Siege of Odawara in 1590, Hideyoshi Toyotomi forced the surrender of the Late Hojo 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 Hojo to Ieyasu Tokugawa.

After Ieyasu completed Edo Castle, he turned site of Odawara Castle over to one of his senior retainer, Tadayo Okubo, 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 Hojo castle. Aside from an interruption from 1619-1685, during which time the Inaba clan extensively renovated the castle, the Okubo clan ruled over Odawara Domain from Odawara Castle until the Meiji Restoration.

Iemitsu Tokugawa, the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun, visited Odawara Castle in 1634. The donjon built by the Inaba was destroyed in an earthquake in 1703, but was rebuilt by 1706. 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 Jinja Okubo, dedicated to the spirits of the generations of Okubo daimyo. In 1909, the Odawara Imperial Villa was constructed within the site of the former inner and second bailies. The Imperial Villa was destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Repair work was made to the stone walls from 1930-1931, but with very poor workmanship. In 1935, two of the remaining yagura (which had been destroyed in the 1923 earthquake) were restored, but on a half-scale. In 1938, the castle site was proclaimed a national historic monument, with the area under historic preservation restrictions expanded in 1959, and again in 1976 based on further archaeological investigations.

In 1950, 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 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 1960s 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 in 1971, the Akagane Gate in 1997, and the Umade Gate in 2009.