Before, when I use to think of castles, I thought of typical, Cinderella-style ones. To me, Japanese castles are even better. They are so different and far from the normal fairytale description. And we just so happened to travel to the nearby city of Odawara on our nineth day in Japan to see a traditional Japanese castle.
The train ride to Odawara was an hour and fifty minutes away from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, through beautiful countryside, small towns and even tree-covered mountains. I was tired and restless, but wanted to keep my eyes clued to the window of the train, soaking in as much of Japan as possible–except on the ride back, I welcomed sleep almost immediately.
Originally built in 1447, it was demolished and rebuilt (1633,1706, demolished 1872, reconstructed 1960) quite a few times, a fact that truly makes me sad. I wish the actual castle still stood, but destruction due to earthquakes can’t be helped. Even so, it’s a replica, so very close to the real thing. And a site it was. There are many similar throughout Japan, but this was a close one to Tokyo and also recommended–one day we’ll visit all the gorgeous castles of Japan.
Upon arrival in Odawara, we exited the station and could immediately see the castle in the distance, the roof sticking up over the treetops. Sadly, we learned that the castle was under construction, so we weren’t able to tour the inside. However, we did walk all along the surrounding grounds, which contained a shrine, a small amusement park mostly for children, and a small museum.
Walking under torii gates and over bright red bridges, I felt like I was in a Japanese fairytale. There is something special I love about walking through history, history lover that I am. It was a hot day, indeed, but we made the best of it. I bought a delicious Popsicle from a vending machine that started melting profusely within seconds, but was welcome while taking in the sites.
We left and headed back to Tokyo and Akihabara was our site of interest for the night, in search of the Mandarake store. We didn’t find it that day, but we did visit a Maid Cafe. Not something we want to do again, although the food was cute; the atmosphere was awkward.
This was certainly one of my favorite days. We didn’t do much, but just visiting the castle was an immediate favorite and highlight of the trip. We can’t wait to visit more!