Saturday, November 1, 2014

We finally made it to Odawara!!!

We have been to Hakone several times.  We went on our own pretty soon after we got here, we took Morgan, we took Gregg and Joan, and a couple weeks ago we took Dave.  What is right around the corner from where we turn off the highway and head to Hakone?  Odawara!  I have had this on my list of places to go for a long time, but just hadn't gotten it together enough to go.  Well, thanks, Dave!  We made it while he was here.  But, first....

Hakone, again  :)

To be honest, we made the mistake the weekend after Dave arrived to take a chance and drive to Hakone on a Sunday.  We were just a tad worried that the "typhoon" would disrupt my every-minute-planned schedule during the next week, so we ventured out on a nice day on the weekend and then sat in traffic f.o.r.e.v.e.r. along the coastline.  We could see Enoshima just down the road as we sat and sat and sat and then sat some more.  So, Kris made the executive decision to turn around and head back home as I pouted in the backseat.  

Later that week we tried again, and this time we had success!  In the time it took us to get within sight of Enoshima a few days earlier, we were almost to Owakudani, so, good call Husband, good call!
Mackenzie napped on the way
We made it through the switchbacks and up to Owakudani pretty quick, but then had to sit in traffic for a bit waiting for a parking spot to open.  So, in order to maximize our time, we pulled out the bread, cheese and lunchmeat and had our lunch.  Just after we finished eating we were at the top and parking!  Perfect timing!
Okay, here is where the beginning of a camera lesson happens:  the night before we went to Hakone/Odawara I was messing around with the camera.  Apparently, my last adjustment was to see what happened when I turned the ISO as high as it would go.  Then, I didn't reset the ISO.  Sooooo....the next day ALL of my pictures were completely washed out.  :(  I may have shed a few tears about this.  

Black eggs at Owakudani

After a quick walk around Owakudani, some black eggs, and a slight view of Fuji, we headed to Odawara!  

Again...I'm so sad my pictures didn't turn out.  Just imagine beautiful blue skies.

We parked in a lot near this bridge.  The castle grounds didn't have too many people out and about.  We slowly made our way to the castle.

Manabi-bashi (bridge)

On our way in the gentleman in the picture below stopped Kris and chatted for a few minutes.  He told Kris that he was a prisoner of war during WWII.  He said he was very worried that the Americans were going to kill him, but was surprised with the civilized way he was treated.


Pretty stone bridge.  Some of the trees were just starting to change color.  Another couple weeks and it will definitely be magical.

The Corner Tower

This tower is in the southeast corner of the second bailey.  From here, soldiers could look down to the main gate (Ote-mon).  This tower was used for storing weapons as well as serving as a lookout and a point for firing when under attack.  According to the castle information, at the beginning of the Meiji Period (1870), most of the main castle building and structures within the castle grounds were dismantled.  Only this armory remained intact.  However, during the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), the tower and the castle wall that it stood on, collapsed into the moat.  This tower was rebuilt, a little smaller, in 1934.

Another shot of the Corner Tower from a different side (on our way out later in the day)

I really liked the work built into the stone walls.

Inumaki Tree


This bridge overlooks an old moat that is now a pretty little flower garden.

We were at the top of those stairs for quite a while because we saw the tiniest hummingbird we ever saw and as I was standing still waiting for it to come back around the bush so I could get a picture, Garytt was chasing it like a madman.   I'm pretty sure it was only a couple inches long, beak to tail.


This gate was given the name Tokiwagi-mon, meaning "evergreen", because of all the pine trees that surrounded it.  The feudal lord believed the pine trees would stand forever, and hoped that would allow the castle to stand forever as well.  This is the main entrance to the central bailey and the most strategic defensive position.  When most structures were dismantled and sold during the Meiji Period, the original gate was included.  It was rebuilt in 1971.

Photo credit:  David Havens

Here's a corner of the other side of the gate.  The sun was on this side so the pictures are pretty washed out.

Once through the gate we found a cage with these monkeys in it.  The kids thought it was great.  But, it just seemed sad to me.  There were quite a few of them in this cage and it was incredibly smelly.

Old Black Pine Tree

400 year old pine that obviously needs a lot of help standing.

And, our feature presentation....the castle keep!

Odawara Castle

The original castle was built in the mid-15th century.  The Genroku earthquake of 1703 destroyed the keep and was then rebuilt in 1706.  It was then dismantled in 1870 and re-rebuilt in 1960.  Inside we could not take pictures, but there is a museum with swords and drawings, pottery, tools, documents we couldn't read and armor.

Photo credit:  David Havens

We made it through the museum and then back outside just as the sun was beginning to set.  As you can imagine, my pictures should be amazing!  The sky was beautiful!  Pinks, blues, purples, golds, and whites....I couldn't ask for a better backdrop.  Stupid ISO.... (yes, I pounded that ellipsis onto the page).


This is the front gate of the second bailey.  The surface of the gate used to be decorated with copper, hence the name, akagane, "copper".  This gate was reconstructed in 1997, using the same techniques used when it was first built.  The main beam of the gate is made of pine and the pillar and doors are made of hinoki, Japanese cypress.  The doors are aaaaa-maaaazing!!!


This bridge is just outside of Akagane-mon


This is the main gate of the second bailey.  Umadashi means, releasing the horses, and was named this because it was connected to the Umaya-kuruwa (horse stable area).

I love this shot of Umadashi-mon.  

Photo credit:  David Havens
I didn't realize I could get castle stamps!  I have a shrine stamp book, and I'm not sure if it's cool to put castle stamps in those books, so I just stamped my pamphlet.  

On our way home I was able to catch a quick glimpse of Fujisan.  :)  This was a lucky shot.  I had another almost-lucky shot, except that a five-year-old Boy stuck his peace sign fingers in my shot then laughed uproariously as I scowled at him.

What an amazing day!  The castle is beautiful and majestic and magical and....okay....I'll stop.  :)  I think I may be on a many castles as I can get to while we are here!  And, after Matsumoto, first on my list...Odawara with ISO set right!  Thanks, Dave, for sending me your beautiful pictures!!  Love ya, bro!