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Dencho-ji Temple in Odawara

A charming little neighbourhood temple

If you're in the historical town of Odawara, possibly to see its handsome castle, then you can get a break from the crowds by venturing into the residential area to the south-west of the centre.

Wander round the quiet streets here, and you'll find a number of charming neighbourhood temples and shrines, not the heavily touristed kind, but that local people will pop into on their way somewhere.

One of these is Dencho-ji, just a small place with a peaceful atmosphere. There's a range of Buddhist statues here, some worn and weathered with age, some clearly very recent, including one jolly-looking Buddhist deity on a pyramid of sake barrels.

Like many of the temples around here, it also has a board giving some information in English. It tells us that a house in the precinct was called 'Horned Owl House'; horned owls are popular birds in the Odawara area, and the kindergarten next to the temple is called Mimizuku Yochien ('Horned Owl Kindergarten'). It's a thoughtful gesture that the local authority should make the effort to provide English, which makes a stroll round the area more interesting.