Odawara is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan. The city was founded on December 20, 1940. Odawara has had a sister city relationship with Chula Vista, CA for over 25 years. Odawara also has an active friendship with Manly, New South Wales in Australia, which includes an annual mutual student exchange program for secondary school students.
Odawara-juku's strategic location on the Toukaidou, between mountainous Hakone and Sagami Bay, has given it a key role in Japanese history. Prior to the Edo period, Odawara Castle was the stronghold of the Late Houjou clan warriors. During the Edo, its castle controlled the Toukaidou between the Tokugawa headquarters at Edo and the stations west of Hakone, including Sumpu, Hamamatsu and Nagoya. Today, a reproduction of the castle stands high on a hill above the city.
The epicenter of the Great Kantou earthquake in 1923 was deep beneath Izu Ooshima Island in Sagami Bay. It devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, and caused widespread damage throughout the Kantou region. Ninety percent of the buildings in Odawara collapsed immediately, and fires burned the rubble along with anything else left standing.
On August 15, 1945, Odawara was the last city in Japan to be bombed by Allied aircraft.
Besides Odawara Castle, this area is a major transit point for the Hakone hot springs resort area. Enoura, a coastal district in Odawara known for its pristine sea, has an abundance of kumamomi, a type of fish which prefers clear and clean water. Sea turtles are also sometimes present there. Because of the clear water and plentiful undersea life, many people come to Enoura for diving.