Odawara Castle (Photo: Tojichi / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
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Kanagawa Prefecture's Castle Sites

Daytrip destinations into Kanagawa's history


A journey in Japan isn't complete without a visit to at least one of the 100 castle sites. The conditions of the sites vary a great deal, from forlorn ruins to follies to faithful reconstructions. For Tokyo visitors, it might be disappointing to find that of the twelve fine preserved castle keeps scattered around the country, none are close to the metropolis. However, in the Kanto area, there are some places to satisfy your castellan curiosity. Just west of Tokyo proper, Kanagawa Prefecture isn’t a hot spot for castles but if you happen to be passing through, you can add these evocative and historical spots to your visit.

Sarushima Battery Island

Sarushima fortress' brick walls
Sarushima fortress' brick walls (Photo: Haragayato / CC BY 2.0)

While not quite a castle, Sarushima Battery Island, and Mikasa Park on the Yokosuka waterfront, are historical spots that preserve military heritage. The uninhabited island accessible on a 10-minute ferry ride was first fortified by the Tokugawa shogunate in response to the appearance of Admiral Perry’s Black Ships in Tokyo Bay. The extensive variegated brickwork walls date from the Meiji era and there are gun batteries and bunkers to ramble around. It’s a popular spot for picnicking. At Mikasa Park on the shore, visitors can board the museum ship Mikasa, the world’s last remaining battleship of its kind.

Sarushima Battery Island is accessed by ferry from Mikasa Pier, a 15-minute walk from Yokosuka-Chuo Station.

Musashi Masugatayama Castle in Ikuta Ryokuchi Park

Viewing platform on the site of Masugata Castle
Viewing platform on the site of Masugata Castle (Photo: Osumi Akari)

This flat hilltop was once a fortress held by the Hojo clan during the Warring States period. Today only the baileys and a reconstructed gate remain. However, on the site of the castle keep is a viewing platform from which you can look out over Kawasaki City. The castle ruin is part of Ikuta Ryokuchi Park, home to gardens and museums. At the open-air Nihon Minkaen folk house museum, you can imagine the life of common people in times now past. Also within the park is The Okamoto Taro Museum. Complete your visit with a hike around the castle site and you may spy ancient tombs cut in the hillside, testament to the millennia of human activity here.

The park is a 10-minute walk from Mukogaoka-Yuen Station on the Odakyu Odawara Line.

Odawara Castle

Dominating the city’s skyline, Odawara Castle is a lookout over the city and Sagami Bay. The castle has suffered sieges, earthquakes, and was nearly erased from the map during the Meiji Restoration’s modernization. Today, the reconstruction of the castle keep is made of reinforced concrete, but the site also has some faithful reconstructions of the Edo era gates. Beyond the castle park are the remnants of massive public works, moats, and artillery grounds that intimate the formidable power of the Hojo clan which once held this fortress.

Within the castle's main gate, Tokiwakimon, is the Samurai-kan, a state-of-the-art display of samurai armor, swords, and artifacts. The samurai armor building also has a dress-up experience in armor or period kimono for children and adults. The castle gardens make a great backdrop for photography with color and greenery in all seasons.

Odawara Castle Park is a 5-minute walk from Odawara Station on the Shonan-Shinjuku Line.

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Bonson Lam 2 years ago
Sarushima Battery Island looks amazing, like the abandoned monuments to an ancient civilization, it reminds me of Angkor Wat.
Justin Velgus 2 years ago
I am very interested in Sarushima! Also, I had no idea that Japan has any remaining battleships since they were all basically destroyed during WWII. However, the Mikasa is a memorial from the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Wow, what history!
Elizabeth S Author 2 years ago
The Mikasa is the world's only remaining pre-dreadnaught battleship. It was decommissioned in the 1920s and restored in the 1950s, so it didn't sail in World War II.

The only battleship that survived World War II was the Nagato which the US Navy sank off Bikini Atoll in nuclear weapons testing.
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