Say you are in Tokyo and wondering where you should go to see the real castle in the neighborhood of Tokyo. The answer is easy, Odawara! It is only 84 km (about 53 miles) from the Tokyo terminal and takes only 1hour and 20 minutes, even by a local train (Tokaido line) with the fare of 1,500 yen one way. You have an option to take a Tokaido Shinkansen that cuts the journey time to 30 minutes, but I recommend you take a local train to see the part of the commoners’ daily life.
The Odawara castle is located nearby the Odawara station (10 to 15 minutes’ walk). The castle was built in the middle of the 15th century and is well recognized as the castle of Hojyo family, who was one of the prominent samurai family between the 15th and the 16th century. The castle was known to be “indestructible” thorough the battle with the Takeda family in the 16th century, but in the year 1590, the ruling by Hojyo family for about 100 years through 5 generations was ended with the massive attack from Toyotomi Hideyoshi who succeeded to conquer the entire Japan at that time. The castle was beautifully renovated and the view from the castle tower is stunning.
Moreover, Odawara is rich in a variety of local food which is worth trying. One of the famous food (the sweets) is Uiro. That looks quite similar as Yokan (Sweet bean jelly), but it is different. The name “Uiro” is the name of the family who founded “Uiro confectionery” in the Muromachi period. That was more than 600 years ago!
What a historical confectionery!
While Yokan is made by jellifying bean jam, mainly made from adzuki beans, with Japan agar, Uiro is only made from rice powder, mochi powder and sugar. So Uiro is softer than Yokan. Well, the historic castle and historic confectionery. This combination is good enough to motivate you to visit Odawara and explore its history!