Monday, May 3, 2010

Odawara Castle

Yesterday was a beautiful Spring day and so the kids and I decided to head out and go to Odawara Castle. This is about an hour twenty minute train ride and given that it's Golden Week here in Japan we got an early start to try and beat the crowds. Only a 10 minute walk from the Odawara Station we found it easily and made our way to the top where there is a beautiful view of Sagami Bay.

The castle was originally built in 1706, abandoned in 1870, suffered substantial damage in the Kanto earthquake of 1923 and was restored in 1960. There's an interesting museum located inside the castle with artifacts from the Edo time period and Samurai armor. 26 gates, 14 towers and 5 bridges by the time the Edo period ended (recited by Wrenn - they do actually retain some of the information on these trips!).

My favorite thing I learned that day was about the Shachi which are dragon-like fish that adorn the roof tops of the castles. They are symbols of good luck to ward off fires. They are usually in pairs, one male and one female facing towards each other.

After we enjoyed the view we headed to the grounds below where there were a number of vendors selling food. Wrenn and Mitchell enjoyed fried sweet potatoes dipped in sugar; Walker, Mitchell, and I tried the Yakisoba; all three kids went for the soft serve ice cream. It was a fun outing and a warm up to our upcoming trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima at the end of this month where we'll have the chance to see two more castles.

Till next time, sayonara.

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