|English Name||Odani Castle|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, Top 100 Mountaintop Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period|| Pre Edo Period
|Features||trenches, stone walls|
|Access||Kawake Sta. (JR Hokuriku main trunk line); 30 mins walk from the station to the museum and trail head|
|Visitor Information||the castle is free, but the museum is 300 yen; closed Tuesdays except on national holidays in which case they close on Wednesday. Also closed 12/28-1/4.|
|Time Required||4 hours|
|Location||Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture|
|Coordinates||35° 27' 34", 136° 16' 37"|
|Visits||March 20, 2012|
Azai Sukemasa built Odani Castle from 1521-1528. The third generation castle lord, Azai Nagamasa married OIchi-no-kata, Nobunaga's younger sister in 1567 to expand his power and influence. Despite that, he turned on Nobunaga in his campaign against the Asakura in 1570. Nobunaga defeated the Asakura and Azai at the Battle of Anegawa in 1570, but was not able to take Odani Castle until 1573.
OIchi gave birth to three daughters, OChacha (Toyotomi Hideyoshi's sokushitsu), OHatsu (married Kyogoku Takatsugu), and OGo (married Tokugawa Hidetada).
Odani Castle is counted among Japan's Five Greatest Mountain Castles, along with Kasugayama Castle, Nanao Castle, Kannonji Castle and Gassantoda Castle.
They have really cleaned up this site in recent years (mainly for the NHK Taiga Drama: 'Go-himetachi no Sengoku') making it a very enjoyable castle ruin to visit. The trails are well marked, some trees and brush have been cut back, castle ruins and baileys are very well signposted and the museum is small but informative. Visiting in good weather in the autumn would offer great fall colors but the spring before the weeds start growing will also allow you to see the castle structures more clearly than at any other time. </p>
For the first time visit, I recommend you take the route I did going up the Otemichi through the main structures and then down through the valley. You should plan about 4 hours for this trip but it could be done shorter if you don't take your time. I spent about 5 hours including a lunch break.
At the station is a gift shop where they sell a fantastic booklet (350 yen) including all the artist's renderings and descriptions from the signs at the castle and a great map. They also offer a shuttle bus service to the castle for about 250 yen per person. Ask at the counter if it is available the day you visit.
If you have time you could also visit the ruins on Mt. Toragozen on your way back from the station or you could easily go on to Nagahama Castle in the same day if you've gotten an early start.