Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Japanese Castles 1540-1640 Samurai's Blood

Odawara Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Odawara Domain

1614 - 1619

Ōkubo Clan

45,000 Koku

1619 - 1632

Abe Clan

50,000 Koku

1632 - 1686

Inaba Clan

85,000 Koku

1686 - 1868

Ōkubo Clan

103,000 Koku

Odawara Castle is classified as a hilltop castle, and is located in Kanagawa Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Sagami Province. It is associated with the Hōjō, Ōkubo clans. Dates in use: 1417 - 1871.

The Hōjō clan were the most powerful clan of the Kantō region throughout most of the 1500's. They had within their lands a network of castles but based themselves at Odawara castle. It was indeed a strong & mighty castle and proved to be just that against attacks by the powerful Uesugi clan then the Takeda clan just a short time later. Despite the Hōjō's tenacious D the castle did eventually fall to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his quest to conquer all of Japan.

The pace is hardly blistering but since the end of WWII, it seems that every couple of decades brings with it the restoration of a section of the castle grounds. Following the main tower in 1960, two gate complexes have been restored. The most recent addition to Odawara castle is the Uma dashi, a small enclosure to defend from, or if breached, a contained & exposed death-trap.

The main tower, while containing some interesting displays, is a slightly-aged, concrete reproduction. Video cameras, regular cameras, not even the camera on your mobile photo can be inside this building. You'll need a courtroom sketch artist to record any images.


1417 Fortifications were built by the Ōmori clan.
1496 The castle withstood an attack by the Hōjō clan.
1561 The castle withstood an attack by the Uesugi clan.
1569 The castle fell to the Takeda clan.
1590 Toyotomi Hideyoshi assaulted this castle & defeated the Hōjō clan. The Ōkubo clan were stationed here & commenced restoration of the defences.
1633 The first main tower was built.
1703 The main tower collapsed due to a massive earthquake.
1706 The main tower was rebuilt.
1870 The castle was abandoned.
1872 The main tower & several turrets were dismantled. A shrine was built upon the base of the main tower.
1923 Remaining buildings (one or more turrets?) & the stone foundations were damaged in another earthquake.
1934 A corner turret was rebuilt.
1960 The main tower was reconstructed.
1971 The Tokiwagi Gate was reconstructed.
1997 The Akagane Gate was reconstructed.
2009 The Uma-dashi gate area was rebuilt.

Historical recognition

SiteNational Historic Site