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Odawara History Made Simple

Odawara History made Simple
by Kevin Burns

The Odawara area has been occupied since prehistoric times.

During the Jomon period it was quite populated.

In the Nara period, the Odawara area was included as part of the Ashigarashimo District of Sagami Prefecture.

During the Heian period, Odawara was controlled for the most part by the Hatano clan.

Photo: Odawara Castle

Gempei War

Pitted the Heike Clan versus the Minamoto Clan.
The Battle of Ishibashiyama took place according to some sources–near Odawara.   According to other sources it was near Kamakura.

Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period):
During the bloodiest period in Japanese history (after WW2),
Odawara was an important castle town and capital of the Hojo
Clan.   The Hojo at this time controlled most of Kanto.

Seiges of Odawara


Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeats the Hojo in Odawara.    After a brief
seige the defenders of Odawara Castle surrender–after having
been in awe of the one day progress of the construction of a “fake” castle on an adjacent hill to Odawara Castle.    The fortifications went up so quickly (the defenders of Odawara Castle) felt they were up against a vastly superior force.
The area then came under the control of Ieyasu Tokugawa.

You can see where these ramparts were constructed by going to One Day Castle Park in Odawara and observing the view of Odawara Castle.    You can imagine the insurgents
working all day and night to construct impressive ramparts. And scaring the heck out of the Odawara Castle faithful.

Tokugawa Shogunate

Odawara was ruled during this time, by various Daimyo.  She prospered as a post station of the Tokaido highway.    You can still see evidence of the post stations in certain parts of Hakone, and you can even walk some of the old Tokaido highway.  The original stones are still there!

Odawara Joins Kanagawa 

Odawara joined Kanagawa Prefecture in 1876 after briefly being its own prefecture.   Odawara lost significance after this merger and Yokahama went from being a tiny village of no significance to another thriving international port, with a large foreign community like Nagasaki.

The Great Kanto Earthquake, 1923

Took place in Sagami Bay.    It destroyed most of Yokohama, and Tokyo, and much of the Kanto area. 90% of the buildings in Odawara were destroyed during the shaking.   The fires
destroyed the rest.

Thousands of Koreans in Yokohama were reportedly massacred in the aftermath, as they were rumored to somehow be responsible for crimes after the earthquake.

1940: Odawara officially becomes a city.   As the Tokaido line had by this time rerouted to Odawara (with Odawara on the main line) the city had prospered enough to achieve city status.

World War 2:  Odawara was bombed many times during the war.    You can see a monument to some of the victims at the
GS Yuasa Plant who were killed in one of the bombing raids.

Odawara has the dubious distinction of being the last city to
be bombed by allied aircraft during World War 2–on August 15th, 1945.

After having attained a population of over 200,000, Odawara was granted Special Ordinance City status by the national
government.   This gives Odawara increased autonomy over local matters.

Kevin Burns
Editor of How to Teach English in Japan

The Pre-Modern History of Odawara

About kintaro63 (230 Articles)
Writer and teacher in Japan

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