Tokyobling's Blog

Odawara City By Night

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 21, 2013

The other day I passed through Kanagawa Prefecture, between Shizuoka Prefecture and Tokyo City, so I took the opportunity to make a brief stop in the castle town of Odawara. This city is one of the overlooked gems of a day trip from Tokyo. It has a castle, a beautiful beach, historical buildings, delicious local specialities and to top it all, it is just 850 yen one way from Shinjuku in the heart of Tokyo, by the Odakyu Line. To me it is right up there with Nikko and Kamakura on the list of great day trips from Tokyo. I took these photos of Odawara station, and the castle silhouetted against the sunset. Odawara has a tiny entertainment district south of the station reached by ducking into the wonderfully retro Osharedoori entrance arch. All the major sights are within walking distance from the station so you never need to worry about local transport once you reach the station. Use the tags to find all the other posts I have done about Odawara over the years!
















Miyukinohama – Odawara Beach

Posted in Places by tokyobling on April 25, 2012

Last year, during the peak of the summer I visited Odawara City on the coast south west of Tokyo, at the far west end of Kanagawa Prefecture. Odawara is easily one of my favorite cities in Japan (after Tokyo of course), not least because it is a coastal town with a long beautiful coastline. When I first came to Japan I always wondered why Japanese were so reluctant to develop their coastal areas, whereas France and the US have resorts, mansions, expensive commercial districts and high class villas built up right up to the ocean most of coastal Japan has nothing more exciting than a high way or a gasoline stand. Well, after the tsunami I sort of get it. The main beach here in Odawara is called Miyukinohama (御幸の浜), for the Japanese word “miyuki” or 御幸 which means imperial visit. It is in memory of the emperor Meiji who visited with his empress in 1873 to observe local fishing. For thousands of years the emperors had been very secluded in their palace, so for the local citizens of Odawara an Imperial visit must have been amazingly exciting! Emperor Meiji was the first emperor to actually travel around a little bit and Odawara was one of his first visits during a difficult transition time between the old and the new Japan. It was much too hot for me to dare to undress and get into the ocean, my skin would have burnt up in minutes, but I imagine it must be very different during the traditional New Year’s swim that is held here on the 1st of January every year when hundred of people brave the cold! Odawara is close enough to Tokyo be a possible day trip and well worth the effort. Get on the first train out of Tokyo and go back just after sunset, it will be a great way to spend a day off without having the hassle of booking hotel rooms, or you can stay the night like I did. Definitively recommended!

Odawara Town – Old Buildings

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on December 27, 2011

Located exactly 80km from Nihonbashi (the central point of modern Tokyo and old Edo) lies Odawara town. This and the surround mountains and rivers make this one of the most difficult sections to travel on the old Tokaido road that connected all the major cities in old Japan. Hence, Odawara became known as Odawarajuku, or Odawara Lodging Inn Town and a very popular spot for spending a night on the way to or from Edo. Naturally local artisans and merchants took full advantage of this and for hundreds of year they did a roaring trade in souvenirs, trinkets, travel goods, local specialities and food especially prepared for travelers. There were 90 regular inns and 8 larger inns reserved for the samurai class and their lords, these 8 inns were the grandest inns on the entire Tokaido route. These days not many of these old inns have survived wars, earthquakes and tsunami, but a few of the original shops, many of the local specialities and at least one (that I could find) inn remains standing. The day I visited was blazing hot and I was hindered in my exploration of all the traditional shops and houses by the looming threat of sun stroke and rather than spend a couple of days in a local hospital I actually called it quits after merely sampling a fourth of all this wonderful sea side town has to offer. The next time I visit I will be better prepared and make sure I see it all!

Here’s a few of the buildings I managed to photograph. Usually I do not care much for these sorts of scenes as the ugly concrete buildings, roads and tarmac makes me sad. I wish there were more of these older buildings left, or at least that local people took more pride in their history and heritage.

The last two photos are from the Matsuhara Shrine, a shinto shrine that is famous for the giant turtle that is said to have crawled up and blessed the town in the late 16th century. It is said to have visited regularly and due to its blessing the town garrison of a mere 8000 men is said to have successfully defended the town from an invading army of 80 000 men. In honor of the giant turtle there is now a turtle statue on the grounds of the shrine, but by this point of my exploration, I had almost expired so I didn’t investigate further. Always leave something to discover for the next time you visit, I think!!

Odawara Toy Railway

Posted in Places by tokyobling on December 18, 2011

Time for another summer memory, this one from Odawara and my trip there in August. Behind Odawara Castle, there’s a small park on a hill and around that hill there’s a miniature, toy railway, complete with a miniature train and mini rail crossings. It must be a treat for the kids to ride on this train, and I saw quite a few fathers with big smiles as well. It is surprisingly long for a toy railway and if you’re ever in Odawara with small kids it is a must visit! The day I spent in Odawara was blazing hot with clear blue skies and a sun that almost knocked me out. But I miss summer already!

%d bloggers like this: