Experience Life as a Feudal Lord in a Japanese Castle Town

2 Mins read

Odawara, Japan — A meticulous adjustment of the traditional “kabuto” helmet and a secure fastening of the cord chin strap mark the beginning of a unique transformation.

Simon Celestine, originally a tourist from France, found himself elevated to the status of a feudal lord upon arriving at Odawara castle, one of Japan’s most impressive fortresses from the feudal era — if only for a day.

Situated just 50 miles (80 kilometers) from central Tokyo, Odawara stands as an appealing port town with a historical legacy tied to the influential Hojo clan, loyal Fuma ninja, and a pivotal battle in 1590 that shaped modern Japan.

However, foreign visitors often speed through this town on bullet trains, adhering to the well-trodden “golden route” destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

With overseas visitor numbers now surpassing pre-pandemic peaks, the Japanese government is actively promoting exploration of lesser-known, equally captivating destinations. Odawara has been chosen as one of the first beneficiaries of government assistance to showcase its history, prompting local tourism authorities to develop initiatives highlighting its strengths.

Given Odawara’s rich history and its imposing castle, an initiative was launched to immerse visitors in the experience of being a feudal lord (daimyo) for a day, complete with authentic costumes.

Naoya Asao, head of international promotion for the Odawara Tourism Association, expressed optimism about the campaign’s potential impact, stating, “We are really hoping that our campaign will put Odawara on the map and encourage more people to visit and stay overnight.”

Celestine, along with three friends, embraced the curated experience that commenced with shedding their 21st-century attire. Guided by costume experts accustomed to outfitting actors in period movies and Japanese TV dramas, the visitors donned traditional garments, including long white undershirts, leggings, iron-splinted guards, and intricate chest armor. Each was armed with a long sword (“katana”) and a shorter “wakizashi,” with instructions on when to unsheathe it for ritual purposes.

With the addition of the iconic “kabuto” helmet, the four “daimyo” were ready to explore their temporary realm.

As they ventured beyond the visitors’ center, the foreigners attracted curious glances from locals, gradually embracing their noble personas as they crossed the castle’s outer moat and encountered re-enactors donned in accurate warriors’ armor from Japan’s Warring States period.

Strategically positioned between Sagami Bay and the mountains leading to Mount Fuji, Odawara played a pivotal role in controlling road traffic between Kyoto and Edo. The Hojo family, spanning five generations, established Odawara castle as an emblem of authority during the 1500s, remaining unconquered until 1590 when Toyotomi Hideyoshi laid siege to the city.

Following a tour of the castle’s impressive structures and a captivating performance showcasing the skills of Japan’s legendary ninja, the “daimyo” experienced a feast fit for royalty at a nearby restaurant. The day concluded with a return to the castle’s uppermost floor, where the lords spent the night, savoring the last moments of their noble status.

The “Lord of the Castle” experience can be booked through the official Odawara Tourism Association website.

Related posts

Exploring the Roads of Saudi Arabia: A Unique Road Trip Experience

2 Mins read
When envisioning a road trip, one might automatically picture traversing US highways or winding through the mountains of Europe. However, Saudi Arabia…

This cruise ship, named Icon of the Seas, stands as a remarkable feat, capable of accommodating nearly 10,000 passengers.

2 Mins read
What distinguishes this vessel is its grandiosity and a myriad of unique features. There is nothing subtle about the world’s largest cruise…

Exploring Saudi Arabia: Insights from Those in the Know

2 Mins read
Until recently, Saudi Arabia remained largely off the tourist radar, unfamiliar to many potential travelers. However, the landscape is rapidly changing, with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *