Originated in 1505 as the private temple for Ide clan one of the kinsmen of Latter Hojo clan, the temple was expanded in 1590 by Nissen with the request from the wife of Masakuni Ide who commited seppuku after Odawara castle was ceded to Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Nissen was a priest of Myohonji (temple in Kamakura) school of Nichiren Buddhism. The temple used to have been located at Itabashi area along the Old Tokaido Road, but it was moved to current place in 1960 because of Shinkansen Line construction. The temple is best known as one of the temples enshrining Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Fortune). Rensenji temple has a Daikoku-ten statue (reservation required to see the statue). Daikoku-ten is Japanese counterpart to Mahacale(Shiva) of Hindu gods. In Japan Daikoku-ten is worshiped as a god of wealth. Just beside the temple runs the great dry moat of Komine. The best season is plum blossom season during February to March.
Shiroyama Park located north of current Odawara Castle donjon encompasses older castle area of Odawara castle. It is one of the popular sites to see Cherry Blossoms during late March to early April but during the rest of the season the park is a quiet place to stroll around or for joggers to run along the track field or to play tennis. The park also has some monuments and a long dry moat.
After Hideyoshi Toyotomi defeated Hojo Clan in 1590, Odawara castle was given to Tadayo Okubo, one of the sixteen major vassals of Iyeyasu Tokugawa who later became the first shogun of Tokugawa Government. Okubo Shrine about fifteen minutes walk from Odawara Castle keep eshrines Tadayo Okubo the first lord of Odawara castle and Tadazane Okubo 11th generation of Sagami Okubo Family founded by Tadayo Okubo. This shrine can be categorized as a memorial shrine to show gratitude for great historical figures. Tadazane is noted for giving Sontoku Minomiya to showcase his excellent management skills in reconstructing Sagami Domain. The shrine was moved from Honmaru(Main) Enclosure area to current place in 1900. This shrine is really a quiet place and probably visited only by historical buffs.
Lesser known area of in and around Odawara include:
Ishigakiyama Ichiyajo Park
Visiting Minami Ashigara
Hiking Mount Yagura and Ashigara Pass
Hiking Mount Myojin and Myojo...