Odawara Japan guide
Odawara Japan Map
This small city is located in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan. It is a part of the Kanto region and is located on the easternmost side of the country, opening to the Pacific Ocean. Just like its neighboring cities, Odawara had a very complex civilization. It has castles and shrines on one side and fishing ports on the other side.
The total land area of the Odawara city is about 113 square kilometers with approximately 194,000 inhabitants. It is most famous for their city-wide abundance of plum, or ume. Many of their delicacies are based on the flavors provided by plum. Odawara is best known for their onsens and ryokans, natural hot springs coming from the Hakone Mountains. This is also why there are a number of people who go there just to enjoy the hot spring spa and resorts.
Odawara Japan Weather
The general climate in the Kanagawa prefecture, including the Odawara city, is temperate. This means that they experience four different seasons every year. They have hot summers and mild to extreme winters. The average temperature during summertime is about 27 degrees Celsius to 30 degree Celsius. On the other hand, the average temperature during the wintertime is about 4 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius.
Odawara Japan History
According to historical records, the city of Odawara had been highly populated even during the earlier Japanese times (Jomon period). This is due to the fact that it is near a body of water which could a source of food and living.
Before it became the city of Odawara, it used to be a part of the Sagami Province. Then it was separated as the Odawara Domain during the 16th century. Then, it briefly became the Odawara prefecture in the beginning of the Meiji Restoration before it was officially transferred to be a part of Kanagawa province.
Travel tips to Odawara Japan
Odawara Japan Hotels
One of the most popular budget hotels in the area would be the Plum hostel which is an apartment block that provides easy access to many tourist destinations in the city. It is near the beach, the city center, and train station. It is a dorm type dorm, rather than a room in a hotel, where boarding starts at 2,900 yen per person.
A lot of people prefer traditional Japanese rooms from ryokans and spas because they can enjoy the hot water baths at any time. They can also enjoy it multiple times during their stay. The problem with this, on the other hand, is that it can get a bit expensive.
Odawara Japan Car Rental
Although train stations are very accessible in the area, there are also bus terminals which are easily accessible there are still some visitors who wish for more comfortable trips via car rentals. This, on the other hand, can be a bit expensive. For instance, a 12-hour rental may cost around 5,000 yen without a driver. Car rentals are available in the Odawara station and are specifically for those who have traveled far to go to the city.
Odawara Japan transportation
Going around the city, there are a number of options available. The main train terminal can take any person inside the city and even outside of it. Having Japan rail passes are a must for first-time travelers who wish to roam around the city constantly. The Japan Rail Passes usually have promos and freebies. Sometimes, entry to tourist destinations also come in free with the JR Passes. As long as the date of visit matches with the opening dates of tourist destinations, then traveling to Odawara would be a breeze.
The airport nearest Kanagawa would be the Fukushima airport which is roughly 60 kilometers away from the city center. Tokyo is quite near Odawara which is why a lot of residents from the city often visit. People can reach Odawara in less than two hours of travel from Tokyo by car and even much faster by train.
Odawara Japan Tourism
This small city of Kanagawa is a very interesting place to visit. It is jam-packed with different kinds of activities. There is a place for visitors who simply want a learning experience and an enriching insight on Japan’s history. For those who want to relax, there are beaches along the coast. There are also hot spring baths, onsens, and ryokans available in the area where the fresh warm water comes from Mount Hakone.
For those who wish to experience nature, there are gardens and parks available in the city. Visitors can rent bicycles to maximize the cycling trails. They can also hike the mountains if they wish to be more in one with nature. There are also lakes for fishing and camping.
Odawara Japan Points of Interest
One of the most popular local delicacies would be the Umeboshi which is literally a translation for pickled apricots. These are usually served with the salty Kamabako or Himono. It is also a common additive to the Odawaradon to add sweetness and flavor to the rice bowl. Another term for the umeboshi would be salt plums or pickled plums. They are usually very sour and salty. Some have recipes which include honey in their pickling recipes turning the sour plums sweeter.
This is a kind of donburi or rice meal which is served typically with other local delicacies like himono or kamaboko. What is special about the Odawaradon is that there is no specific recipe to it, it is just a matter of knowing what comfort food is for a person. This means that the contents to an Odawaradon may vary from person to person.
This is a kind of dried food, particularly dried fish. This is usually served on top of hot rice and is normally eaten during breakfast because of the ease of preparation. There was a time in Japan when raw fish like sashimi and sushi was not that popular. The first kinds of sushi are made from fermented or cured fish. The himono is pretty much similar to that. It is stored, cured, and fermented until the fish flesh becomes a bit hard like wood. Then it is usually grilled or fried before serving.
This is one of the most iconic local delicacies in Odawara and is known to be a special export-level product. It is made from cured surimi, or a kind of white fish flesh, which has been pureed into small loaves. These loaves are then steamed until it is ready to serve. These could be served with a dipping sauce. It can also be served on top of rice meals or noodle meals. There are different kinds of Kamaboko, there is crab stick kamaboko known as the Kani-kamaboko. There is cheese kamaboko which is a very popular snack.
Festivals and Celebrations
・Odawara Hojo Godai Matsuri
This festival is usually celebrated every 3rd to 5th of May, which is the Golden Week of Japan. The event involves a lengthy and extravagant parade involving thousands of people in traditional costumes. People are dressed in warrior attire, priest clothes, and more. Women wear colorful kimonos with elaborate designs and stitching.
This parade is a commemoration of the 5th leader of the Hojo clan which helped in merging Japan into a single nation. Other than the traditional clothing, there are also performances of traditional music and dance. It is really a historical activity which is celebrated every year during Golden Week, as a reminder of Odawara’s contribution to the unification of what is now known as Japan.
Pretty much similar to the Hanami festival, the Ume festival is the viewing of plum blooms which happen in February. Plum flowers are just as pretty and impressive as the Sakura but instead of blooming in late spring, plum blossoms come right at the end of winter. Odawara is one of the best places to view the blooms of Ume or plum. Since plum and cherry are almost from the same line of trees, the flowers look similar. The only difference is the plum flowers have much darker pink than Sakura.
Odawara Japan Things to do
This is the primary landmark in the city of Odawara. The castle was built in the 14th century as a residence of the leading clan of then Odawara. It was originally under the rule of the Doi Clan until came under the control of the Suruga clan. Before the last great battle in feudal Japan, the Hojo clan became the most powerful clan in Odawara.
The castle boasts of its fortification. It is situated on a hill, a strategic place for lookouts and it is surrounded by a giant moat. There are natural fortifications added to the castle. On most sides of the hills are cliffs to prevent intruders from coming in. However, just like most of the castles in Japan, the Odawara castle was uprooted during the Meiji restoration period. It was only in the 1930s that repair work started in the Odawara castle.
Tsujimura Botanical Park
For those who wish to enjoy quiet afternoons looking at beautiful trees which are not local to Japan, this might be the best place to go. This botanical park has exhibitions of a number of trees which grow natively in other parts of the world. A tourist could enjoy the feeling of teleportation, where the scents from the trees and flowers will take anyone to different corners of the world. It was established in the early 1900s and is still running more than a hundred years later. It used to be owned by a family known as the Tsujimura family, one of the wealthiest and famous families in Odawara.
This is a small shop in the Odawara station which was established in the late 18th century. The shop sells different kinds of products made from apricots or plum (known as Ume in Japan). Although it looks like an ordinary shop from the outside, there is a museum like division at the back of the shop. There is a 140-year-old barrel which is still used up until today to produce umeboshi. There are even jars of umeboshi which have been dated from the time the shop was opened.
The store is not just an ordinary store, they even hired multilingual employees to provide educational information for their guests. There are also free tastes and free tours of the shop. It is more like a museum now than a store but their umeboshi products are still the best.
Also known as Purikura, this is actually not a traditional Japanese activity. It is modern but quite popular in Odawara. These are photo booth machines which create photos in the form of stickers. People can also add effects, drawings, designs and more to their photos. Each purikura stall will ask about 400 yen for a single go. It is very enjoyable and cute as well. The machines are very high technology making it absolutely easy to adjust and edit photos before printing them out.
Odawara Fish Market Den
This is the best seafood restaurants in all of Odawara because it is located right at the port. For those looking for a fresh serving of seafood, this might be the best place to go. There are different rice bowl meals available in their menu. They serve sashimi of different kinds. Their shops are open between 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM with the average cost for two people to be about 1,500 yen.
This railway station is quite popular because it is one of the biggest terminals in the area. There are a total of five railway lines that terminate here which include the Tokaido line, Odakyu line, Hakone Line, and even the Tokaido Shinkansen. Because it is such a large terminal there are also a number of shops in the structure. It was originally built in the 19th century but was remodeled and improved in 2005.