Odawara Living 

Life


On the Coast, Near the Mountains and boasting great restaurants too, paradise?

Home

Blog

Bulletin Board

School & Store

Kanagawa Living

Kanto Living

Links


Maruta no Mori: Minami Ashigara's Annual Camp

by Kevin Burns


Pictured: Saijoji, a temple near Daiyuzan Station in Minami Ashigara City. Photo
by Ikumi Burns

Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa

When you don't have work staring you in the face, the sound of a cicada rings out much more clearly inthe humid night air. Surrounded by a forest of cedars, and in front of a huge bonfire, I imagine my ancestors, be theyJapanese or European, African, or South American, all intermingling in communal reverie and bonding. With the flickering flames, we could be in Africa, watching the dancers sway too and fro, but weare five minutes from my home in Minami Ashigara. Men laugh, women blush, and children play in Muratano Mori. The cicadas sing their song. I enjoy listening.

I think I should volunteer more often, witnessing the effort put forth by the city volunteers who put on thisannual camping weekend. I admire their kindness as they teach my six year old how to make a bow. The volunteersare from the city halls and from various walks of life. The man who fixed the lights in our home greets me witha "Long time no see!" He jokes with me about me making Curry Rice. I don't want my family to be rushed toa local hospital though, so I don't cook. I do manage to put boiling water in my cup noodle without burningmy hand, and for that I am thankful.

In our rush to get to work, to get things done, we often forget who lives in our town. I suggest you join thenext annual camping trip, you may make some new friends. The river running through the park is cold andfresh. The sound is nice to sleep by. My children enjoy wading through it and their friends search for rivercrabs. My precocious two year old decides she will conquer the river too. I manage to avoid both of usbreaking our necks on the slippery stones for thirty minutes. Maybe the cicadas are watching over us.Or perhaps it's the Murata no Mori Gods? Anyway, we escape unscathed and we walk back to the mainpart of the camp, to make more things out of bamboo. The bow had snapped so Jonah and my wife, gotanother try to perfect it. I don't think he'll go hunting, but I fear a sweat potato into my cheek may bein my future.

One woman and her eighty year old mother have been coming to these annual camps for seventeenyears. Maybe that says it all. Hope to see you next year!

Kevin Burns

This is the English version of the Minami Ashigara City Magazine article.

To apply for next year's camp, contact the Minami Ashigara City Hall. Inquiries should be in Japanese.

Never Trust a White Russianby Kevin Burns

I never intended to set the white russian drinking record at John Festa's, the Canadian styleOdawara eatery/bar, yet that is what I accomplished. It was Mike's idea to go there but wenever even ate a meal, the appetizers and alcohol filled us up nicely. I definitely don't recommendmixing draft beer and white russians. I do recommend sitting close to the men's room.

It is amazing how much a train can spin when you close your eyes after drinking ten white russians.It seems to spin at all angles at once. The only way to stop it is to open your eyes and let everyoneknow with your glazed look, that "Hey, look over there, that gaijin is wasted."

I lasted three stops and got off the train. I felt my fellow passengers would not be interested in thefried squid I had consumed that night. Fried squid? Whose idea was that for food? What will theycook up next, battered car tire? It has about the same texture and firmness. Maybe they ripped meoff and I was actually eating car tires.

"I like John Festa's," Mike said, "It is so spaceous inside, the Tokyo restaurants are so cramped."I agreed. There were four other foreigners there that night and the place was fairly full by the timewe staggered out. Mike pointed me to the station. That was kind of him. Getting off the train afteronly three stops wasn't the best idea, but I wasn't exactly thinking straight--nor walking straight forthat matter. You know, Japanese will not pick up a sloshed hitch-hiking foreigner. I tried for aboutone hour staggering along one of the main roads and no one picked me up. Although I did not havea control person for the experiment--that is another drunken Japanese staggering along near me;I think my experiment is pretty conclusive that Japanese don't want drunken foreigners in theircars. Not that I blame them. I don't really want drunken Japanese in my car either.

Gohyakurakan Station is very far from my home. I highly recommend that you never get offthe train in a drunken state far from home. Staggering along a main road is dangerous andmany people who know you probably see you. Temples make convenient resting places whenyou can stagger no longer. The platforms around the edge make for a makeshift bed until yourstomach contents settles. It is sacriligeous to vomit on a temple. In view of this, I never didI am proud to say. I did drool a little I confess though. But that will wash!

The Japanese--being a people who love their alcohol, even have medicine for hang overs, GodBless them! I took some great medicine that made me feel somewhat human the next day.As well, the Aussies also being an "inebriated" sort, know that vegimite is conducive to bringing oneback to the vaunted halls of humanity. I ate that too and it helped as well.

I have given up drinking. Don't even ask me!




Nightlife in MA & Odawara


Pictured: The view from Enoshima, looking towards Mount Fuji in the distance. Odawara
is on the coast and all along the coast their are interesting beaches to explore.
Photo by Kevin Burns

Odawara Nightlife
3 Chords
is near Wadagahara Station (Daiyuzan Line) Great live jazz!Highly recommended!

Spats
is within 2 minutes walk of Odawara station. If you walk outthe "Daiyuzan Line" exit of Odawara Station and turn left down the smallstreet running parallel to the trainline (what's that street calledeverybody? with an archway over the top of it... at least I think it has anarchway, but maybe that's only on the other end of the street).Spats

This google map points to the exact location of Spats down the stairs just next to Family Mart.


Cafe Ryo:
As well as Spats which has live music about 4 or 5 times a week, there is
Ryo Sakana Cuisine restaurant which has jazz once a month. Until June it was every Thursday, but they are gonna try every Sunday from July. I've been playing there once a month for the past year and a half and will be playing(trumpet + vocals) Please come along if you're in town. If anybodyin this group wants to come along, please come up and introduce yourself tome as I love to chat with people in between sets and after I've finishedplaying. Don't be shy!

Cafe Ryo
Ryo is just next to MacDonalds across the road from Manyo no Yu onsen. Youcan get the map on the website by clicking on the "information button" andthen you'll see a small link for "access map" on the left hand side menu.

(Don't forget to print out the 300Yen off coupon from the website ;)

Pictured: Chris Weber often performs jazz at Cafe Ryo, and he is great!

3 is a small place near Midori-cho station on Daiyuzan (very close to Odawara station) justoutside the station exit. They have a good jazz record and CD collection.

Other clubs in towns nearby:Check out the area around the train stations in places such as Chigasaki and Hon-Atsugi.

--by Chris Weber

posted by greatpowers at 5:00 AM 0 comments

Entertainment in MA & Odawara



Hadano`s river, photo by Jonathan DeNardis

Entertainment:
The Minami Ashigara Cultural Centre and it's counterpart in Odawara host various events. Including concerts, plays and other events.

Odawara Arena:
has basketball, and at times sumo. Watch sweaty fat men fall yah! There is also triple A level baseball played at Kamifunaka Park. It is also a nice park to walk around in.


Once a year during the winter Odawara hosts the Daimyo Gyoritsu which is a big parade of people in period costume. You can see what the Samurai looked like and perhaps watch an archery contest. This takes place around Odawara Castle. Ask your students about the exact date of this event. Check The Odawara Bulletin Board for event information.

The Odawara Jazz Festival
is a big event and quite famous. You probably have to do
a web search to find information as the homepage address seems to change each year.
you can also ask about it at the Odawara Bulletin Board. Someone will know when and
where it takes place.

The Odawara Plum Festival:
Is held from Feb. 1st-28th. You can see the beautiful plum blossoms at Soga Plum Woods in Odawara. There will be 30,000 plum trees in full bloom! Take your camera! The plum woods spread out from the foot of Odawara Castle and it offers a view of Mount Fuji. Soga is also the site of one of the three most famous vendettas in Japan involving the Soga brothers and contains many historic sites. During the festival, there will be local performing arts demonstrations, including the Odawara chochin (lantern) dance. For those less culturally inclined you can take part in the plum pit spitting contest! Be sure to take some tissue with you! When you tire of spitting you might enjoy trying some of Odawara's famous ume-boshi (pickled plum) at the concours. Site: Soga Plum Woods. Access: Shimo-Soga Station (located within the plum woods) on the JR Gotemba Line. For further details call Odawara-shi Kanko Kyokai 0465-22-5002. I imagine someone will speak English at this number. Note you don't go to the castle you must start from Shimo-Soga Station.

posted by greatpowers at 4:55 AM 0 comments

Shopping in the Odawara Area



Pictured: Dustin Hoffman playing tennis in Hakone. He lost to my wife! Hee hee!
Take that Tootsie! Seriously Dustin is the nicest guy. He is one of my favourite
actors and it was a pleasure to meet him. He is a real gentleman.

In Minami Ashigara, other than the Welmi complex in front of Daiyuzan Station, there isn`t much shopping to speak of here. Don`t even get me started on jokes about Kaisei
Mall either. Merry Lue`s General Store will deliver to your home.
Merry Lue`s General Store
For English books, games, hobby items and food from home visit us at our address
in Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara or shop online. Address: 2659-4 Tsukahara, Minami
Ashigara City, across from the Fuji Supermarket. Tel. 0465-74-4458

For serious shopping you need to go to Odawara. Odawara boasts the largest shopping centre in Kanagawa--Robinson`s. Which sells everything you could want.

Near Odawara Station:
There is good shopping to be had on the south side of Odawara Station. Enjoy walking
the streets and discovering the department stores and boutiques near the station.

Odawara`s Kamonomiya Area
Ito Yokado is a large shopping centre in one large store, it is in the Kamonomiya area of Odawara. There is free parking. There is a supermarket on the first floor and 2nd-4th floor house various goods including clothing, toys, jewelry etc. The brand new City Mall has many stores including Toys are Us. It seems to be the most popular place to shop. It is also located in the Kamonomiya area. Along that whole street the shopping is fairly interesting with many little stores, and boutiques. If you get hungry, Mr Donut is nearby. Finally, Epo near Odawara Station, and the shopping street where Epo is located is a popular place to browse, and go out for lunch or dinner.

The Robinson's Imperial Mall is just like home as well! It is the biggest shopping mall in Kanagawa and it is a stone's throw from the City Mall and Ito Yokado. When you are in Kamonomiya, just ask someone where it is. It boasts all your favourite stores including the Gap and other famous names. Robinson's Shopping Mall in Kamonomiya, Odawara, is a sister shopping mall to Odawara City Mall--they are linked by walkways. It is the largest shopping mall in Kanagawa! It's great especially if you want clothes. The Outlet Mall in Gotemba about 45 minutes drive from here is very famous. It is supposed to be cheaper and sell great clothes. Gotemba area is also very picturesque, much like the Abbottsford area of British Columbia--if you know that area.

Hobbies, toys and Games

Visit Kevin`s War Store

There is also a Toys `r Us in Kamonomiya, Odawara, in the Odawara City Mall. The HelloMac toy shop is located in Kaisei Town just over the Ashigara Ohashi (Big Bridge). It is across the street from theSaizeriya Italian Restaurant and the Hac Drug Store on the east side of the bridge.

Flea Markets:
Merry Lue Store in Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara has a flea market and sells antiques.It is open every day except Monday: 10:30AM-7:30PM.

Antiques:

For antiques from Europe or North America, visit Merry Lue`s Anitques in Minami Ashigara City. Merry Lue`s Antiques

posted by greatpowers at 4:42 AM 0 comments

Medical & Dental Care and Medical Insurance



English Speaking Dentists in the Area

I know a good dentist. He's my student and he can speak English very
well. I've got my teeth cleaned by him before. His office is right across
the street from city hall so pretty convenient location. His name is Dr.
Wada. I just call him "Shin". His office # is 34 8111.
Conrad

For the latest on which dentists and doctors are good, it is best to ask at the
Odawara Bulletin Board or Kanagawa Living`s Forum. Here are those links:

The Odawara Bulletin Board

Kanagawa Living Forum

Most expats usually get Japanese National Health insurance. This usually covers 70% of your medical bills including the cost of medicine. It also covers 70% of dental care. There are many competent doctors and hospitals in our area. As well if you would like medical care in English you can go to The Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic: #32 Mori Bldg., 3-4-30 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo Tel. 03- 3436-3028 Their whole staff speaks English and they offer pretty well every medical service you could imagine. There is also a dental clinic with an English speaking staff as well. There are many competent dentists in our area too, but you may wish to go to Tokyo as the local dentists tend to take a long time to complete the dental work ie) for a filling you may need to go back 3 or 4 times to have the job completed instead of the normal one day visit in Canada. As you might expect, the medical equipment here is perhaps the most advanced in the world. Dr. Amagai is an English speaking dermatologist at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo 03-3353-1211. There are many good doctors in our area and a few speak a little English. Shiritsu Hospital in the Isaida area of Odawara is very famous. Two of my children were born there in fact. We didn't have our third there though as their policy on smoking in the hospital allowed the smoking room right next to the maternity ward. So smoke wafted into the pediatric area and the maternity area, for all the pregnant mothers and newborn babies to enjoy. I wrote a protest letter and we had our third child at Kami Hospital in Matsuda. The new wing is also good but the old wing made the national news as some newborn babies became very sick. The old wing is extremely dirty. One door even had a hole in the window. The staff however was great. So you be the judge. If we were to have a fourth a child, God forbid! We wouldn't have her or him there though.

*If you are concerned about getting sick, then I recommend getting extra insurance.
Getting sick in Japan can be very expensive. Not only the time in hospital but in
lost wages too.

posted by greatpowers at 4:36 AM 0 comments

Foreign Food in Odawara & Minami Ashigara



"Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, lovely spam, beautiful spam...." Monty Python
I love that song!

Merry Lue`s General Store
Sells foreign food at their address: 2659-4 Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara City, and
delivers foreign food, English books, antiques, games, hobby items and more to your door in Japan.

Tozan in Odawara across from McDonald's near Odawara Station has some foreign food. As well, you can order foreign food from Merry Lue`s General Store. Tengu Natural Foods has a huge selection of organic food, and they also have a website. Most Japanese supermarkets also carry some foreign food. The Fuji Supa across the street from Tsukahara School carries a little foreign food, as does Uni located near Daiyuzan Station near AkagenoAn English School.

The supermarket in Kanagawa's largest shopping mall, Robinson's has a lot of foreign food. Robinsons and Odawara City Mall, a sister mall right next to it, are both located in Kamonomiya. Best to take a bus from Kamonomiya Station on the Tokaido Line. It is a great place to shop if you want clothes, food or have children. The best stores and shopping areas in our area are reviewed in The Odawara Bulletin Board.

Western Food Restaurants: As well as McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken there are many great European restaurants sprinkled around Odawara and Minami Ashigara Shi.
See our Odawara Restaurant Guide also here, for details on the local dining scene.

Cafe Natural in Shimosoga is one of my favourites. You will need to go by car. For more on local places to eat and drink read our Odawara Restaurant Guide which has ratings and reviews of many of our local restaurants.

As it is near where the Plum Festival takes place, it might be a nice place to eat if you go to the festival. The interior is also relaxing rustic wooden tables and chairs. There are many great Italian restaurants inOdawara. Best to ask your students or friends where to go. Caprichosa near Midori Cho Station on the Daiyuzan line is very good and reasonable. They also have a friendly, lively staff. There is another nice Italian restaurant, called Trottori in the WelmiCentre near Daiyuzan Station in Minami Ashigara. It is on the first floor in the same building as McDonald's. You must enter from the street side.

For Pizza lovers Pizza La and Pizza Hut will deliver just like back home. As well as the great tasting pizza that you are familiar with, you can tryexotic types like the Idaho Potato Pizza and Pizzas covered in variouskinds of low level sea life. I don't recommend the sealife pizzas myself. I usually go for Italian Basil. Pizza La 73-8900. For Sushi 0465-70-3066. The Odawara Bulletin Board has up to date reviews of some of the local eatieries.

No Smoke Tokyo lists non-smoking restaurants and bars in Tokyo. Tokyo of course boasts perhaps the most restaurants in one city. You will never be able to try all the fantastic restaurants there. Check out The Tokyo Journal for a great listing of Tokyo's gastronomic offerings.

posted by greatpowers at 4:30 AM 0 comments

Books in Odawara & Minami Ashigara


Bookstores:
Merry Lue`s General Store
Merry Lue`s General Store has many English books at our address and online.
Our address is: 2659-4 Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara City. We are just ten minutes
from Odawara Station on the Daiyuzan Line. Our telephone number is 0465-74-4458.
Our employees all speak English and Japanese.

Epo in Odawara not only has a huge selection of Cds, it also carries some English books on the same floor. Of course you always have Trafford or Amazon.Com but if you want to go to an actual store there is Good Day Books near Ebisu Station on the Yamanote line in Tokyo. They carry Tokyo's largest selection of used English books. They also sell new books. Kinokuniya near Shinjuku Station East Exit has almost the whole 6th floor devoted to new English books. As well: Tower Records near Shibuya Station, Jena in Ginza: 5-6-1 Ginza, Chuo Ku, 03-3571-2980.

Best area for used books:
"The Kanda district near Jimbocho Station has many bookstores on either side of the station for 300 metres. Kitazawa Shoten is probably the best. Kitazawa Shoten: 2-5 Jimbocho, Kanda, Chiyoda Ku, 03-3263-0011.Best store for Japanese textbooks: Bojinsha: Kojimachi New Yahiko Bldg. 2Fl, 6-2 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku 03-3239-8673. Caravan Used Book Store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Bookoff also in Tokyo, sells used books at cheap prices but have a limited selection. You should go there for the used CDs. There is a Bookoff in Machida, check their homepage for the exact location. Bookstores in Japan--a huge list of stores and directions.Kanda Book Town.

Want to donate your books? Send them to: Kevin`s English Schools Library, 2659-4 Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara Shi, Kanagawa Ken 250-0117 Japan. Your books will be read by students and teachers. Any English book in used or new condition will be greatly appreciated! We thank all of our previous donors! We now have a nice library and our staff and students really enjoy it!

At the Odawara library there may be a few English books. The large new library in Kamonomiya, Odawara doesn`t have any English books.

Hadano Public Library has many English books and it is just down the Odakyu Line from Odawara--about 15-20 minutes on the train if that, from Odawara Station. The big public library near Machida Station on the Odakyu line has many English books and magazines. The public library near Hon-Atsugi Station has some English books and videos that you can watch for free right in the library!

The Canadian Embassy has a 15,000 book library free for the public to use. Check the Townpage telephone directory for more. British Council 1-2 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku 03-3235-8031 Open Mon-Fri, American Centre: 2-6-3 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo Mon-Fri, 03-3436-0901 Only Japanese can take books out but anyone can go there to read. Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library has 90,000 foreign books! It is adjacent to Arisugawa Park in Hiroo. Open everyday. 03-3442-8451. The Odawara Christian Centre used to have a library and may still do--located near Odawara Station near the Shinkansen exit. The Odawara International Lounge offers English newspapers, free Japanese lessons, magazines and some books. You can go there to meet people too.

posted by greatpowers at 4:21 AM 0 comments

Living in the Odawara Area


Buying a Computer:
Currently you can buy a very good computer in the Odawara area for around 80,000 Yen. Nojima is a good place to buy a computer cheaply and there are many Nojima stores in the area. Yamada Denki would also be a good place to buy one/Prices have dropped by about 80 percent from five years ago! I recently picked up an Emachine computer in Akihabara without a monitor for 52,000 Yen! It is the best computer we own and it was a great deal ! Do a search at google for Dell Japan. They sell some great computers I am told. For my next computer I will probably buy from Dell.

Japanese Lessons:
The Odawara International Lounge offers almost free Japanese lessons and the teachers are great! Go to the Lounge (next to Odawara`s Main post office) and find out
which days and times are best for your level of Japanese.

If you work for Kevin`s English Schools we offer free Japanese lessons to you! There are also free Japanese lessons offered at the Odawara Christian Centre. The Odawara International Club offers Japanese lessons as well. You can advertise for a Japanese teacher at The Odawara Bulletin Board .

English Newspapers & Magazines:

Japan Living Blog
This is owned and edited by yours truly so please check us out too!

Japan Living Forum
This is a huge and lively Yahoo Group!We were featured on Yahoo Group`s Editor`s Page and reviewed favourably there. Join our forum about life in Japan!

Travel Central Japan
Travel Central Japan has articles on travelling this beautiful island nation, and others on life here.

The Tokyo Jounal has many opinionated articles about life in Japan as well as event information.

Sports & Exercise:
Toshi Miura teaches yoga at various venues in Minami Ashigara and is fluent in English. You can find out his contact information by posting at the Odawara Bulletin Board. Minami Ashigara Sports Centre is only a 25 minute walk from Kevin`s Tsukahara School. It has a small workout area, a running track, a pool, tennis courts, a soccer field, many gyms, aikido, karate, shorenji kempo and judo classes. There are also many sports clubs in the area. You can check with Odawara City Hall and Minami Ashigara City Hall to obtain a list of all the clubs. There is an extensive magazine in Japanese that lists all the clubs--not only sports clubs but art and everything else in between. There are literally hundreds of clubs.

The OHA --
Odawara Hockey Association plays street and inline hockey the third Sunday of every month! They also host some hockey tournaments. Odawara Arena has a brand-new fully equipped weight room and the price for use is very cheap! Basicly you name the sport and you can pretty well play it here. Okay, so you can't luge! I'm very sorry about that! As mentioned above, the Odawara Arena has a great weight room as well as other facilities including basketball leagues and badminton to name a few. Exercise your brain material: Chess Japan has members in the Odawara area.If you like boardgames like Risk, Axis and Allies or Civilization to name a few you mught be interested in joining JIGG, the largest bilingual boardgames and RPG club in Japan.

Telephone:

Skype! Skype! Skype! This is the way to go.

Keep in mind that in Japan you are charged for all phone calls based upon how far away the listener is and how long you talk. The longer you talk the more you pay. In view of this, many people rely on email here, much more than back home. If you want to call friends and relatives back home it is good to set up your own callback service account. I recommend Worldlink, and as far as I know, it is still the cheapest to North America. It is also the largest callback company, so it won't go out of business anytime soon, and their service has been pretty reliable. There are many callback services available. Another newer and probably better idea is to get an internet phone account with Yahoo or another provider. You wiill probably need a Japanese friend to look into that for you, to find the best deal for you, as these services are always changing. My understanding is that this is a good deal if you are going to phone your country of origin often. If you aren`t it isn`t necessary.The new skype system is interesting. It allows you to call home for pennies!

posted by greatpowers at 4:09 AM 0 comments

Living in Odawara & Minami Ashigara City



Photo of Ashigara Pass by Shawn Thir

Just where is Odawara you may be wondering, and where do they get those fantastic umeboshi from? Odawara is a city of 200,000 located near the Izu Penninsula in south-west Kanagawa Prefecture. We are one hour south of Yokohama by regular express train and 80 minutes south of Tokyo via the Odakyu line. The umeboshi are pickled plums in English, and if you love salty food, you have to try them. There are plum trees throughout the area and there is a plum festival celebrating this bounty in February. Odawara is also famous for kamaboko a kind of fish version of spam that many Japanese love. We have a fantastic castle with a moat, and cherry trees. You really should see it if you come to Japan. We also boast the largest shopping centre in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Minami Ashigara, borders Odawara and has about 45,000 citizens. All Japanese older than 4 know that Kintaro a famous fairy tale took place here. Minami Ashigara was voted as having the best water in Japan, and that is why Fuji Film chose this small city to make its` film (a water intensive process), and Asahi Beer built its` latest high tech brewery in our city. We are located in a pleasant river valley of rice fields, businesses and fantastic views of Mount Fuji.

Saijoji Temple in Minami Ashigara Photo by Ikumi Burns

Banking: Sagami Tribank is a good, reliable bank if you can find one near you. I have dealt with them for over a decade with no problems. They seem to have avoided many of the pitfalls that put larger banks under. The drawback of the Minami Ashigara branches are that there are virtually no English speaking staff. I have never met any, but there may be some. Some of my friends have used Citibank. With Citibank all banking can be done by phone in English including exchanging Yen to $ when the $ is low.Although branches are only in Tokyo and Yokohama, you can open an account by mail. You can also get acredit card that gives you Northwest Airlines air miles. Otherwise Daichi Kangyo in Odawara is good because they have some English speaking staff and a cash machine. It is located across from the fish market and has a red and white sign. The Bank of Yokohama near Odawara Station seems to be a good bank as well. Take it for what it is worth. I am not an expert on Japanese banking by any means. Back

Internet: There are internet cafes in Odawara but they come and go, so it is best to check at The Odawara Bulletin Board to see where they currently exist. You can get good service from various webservers in our area. I used to use So-Net--a Sony company, as it is cheaper than many for basic service. There is virtually no English support though apart from a very limited webpage. One plus with so-net is you can pay by automatic withdrawl with a credit card. I hate having to go and pay at the bank every month. I have never been overcharged.

Pat-net is good but expensive. They are not as foreigner friendly as So-net. Only one member of the staff seems to understand any English and his English is quite limited. They do not seem interested in getting or keeping the business of the expatriat population of the area. You can do better with So-net or some of the others. So-net seems to have support in English by Email, but one of our teachers had trouble when he tried to get English support over the phone, the woman who called him back only spoke Japanese. OCN comes highly rated but I have never used them. I don't know if they have support in English.

I don`t recommend OCN based on the fact that so many of my friends have had trouble getting hooked up--software conflicts and other problems. With so-net my wife was able to get things working by calling their service department and of course solving the problem while speaking Japanese.

Yahoo BB is good, plus you can call home for a discounted rate with their phone service. I like theirservice so far. I have now switched to Yahoo BB from So-net. Update: Overall I think Yahoo BB is the best for internet.though in 2006, there still is not a lot of English support. You will need a Japanese friend to help you get hooked up anddeal with problems. You might be able to get an English speaking staffer at Yahoo but I don`t guarantee that."Actually, there is an English application and support site forYahoo! BB. The support is unofficial, but not too bad. Main site ishere:"http://bbapply.com--James

Hotmail: I actually use a hotmail address for my business as I have found their antivirus software great. It doeslook a little cheap as an address but it sure is safe. I receive many files from all over the world as teachersapply for positions with our schools, and hotmail has saved us from many viruses. I used regular antivirussoftware plus my domain address before, and lost our computer. Nasty! I may change to Yahoo thoughas it looks a little more professional than hotmail. I don`t mean the quality, I mean the impression theaddress gives. As one reader wrote: "You look fly-by-night with a hotmail address."

posted by greatpowers at 4:07 AM 0 comments

Places and Clubs of Interest in Odawara


小田原 Odawara Living 小田原
"Finally found a place that I might like to live. Went to Odawara today. I've been torn because I have wanted to live near the Pacific Ocean and the mountains and have easy access to Tokyo. Odawara has all three and is so close to Hakone, Atami and Izu. Also, there are so many trains passing through Odawara....easy to connect to various cities."--Neil Stalnaker General Information About Living in Odawara

Places of Interest in Odawara

The Odawara International Lounge:
0465-24-7760, 15-19, 1 Chome Sakaecho,Odawara. Sakaecho Parking Lot, third floor. Located next to the Odawara Post Office. It is in the nicest parkade you will ever find, built to look like an old Japanese building. In this very comfortable lounge, you will find magazines and newspapers in English. Any foreigner can come and use the facilities here for free. The aim of the lounge is to provide useful information to foreign residents and for supporting activities of international volunteer groups and international exchange activities. It really deserves more use and publicity. A nice place to relax. Japanese lessons every Monday from 10:30AM, cost ¥100!

The Odawara Christian Centre:
0465-34-2438(English), 34-2796 (Japanese) Tues-Fri. 9AM-5PM). They hold church services in English and Japanese. They also offer free Japanese classes for foreigners. Community Counseling in English is offered in Yokohama, for inquiries call Scott Smith at 03-3968-4084. Free confidential telephone counseling at 03-3968-4099.

John Festa's: Which may have a new name now.
A bar/restaurant located near Odawara Station. Just ask anyone in the area near the station they will point you in the right direction. Foreigners and Japanese gather here for food and drink. It is modeled on a couple of Vancouver eateries. Go past the Bank of Yokohama then asksomeone. It is on the second floor of a pachinko parlor down one of the sidestreets. ****************************************************************************************Odawara International Friendship Association:
0465-33-1707, Japanese class: 24-5649. A great website with a lot of information about the city. Maybe the best! It even has a clickable map of the downtown area.

posted by greatpowers at 4:04 AM 2 comments

Apparel and Accessories at National Geographic



Join the Club!

by Kevin Burns

 

Sports & Exercise: 

You can practice yoga at various venues in Minami Ashigara and and Odawara.   Check the Odawara Bulletin Board for posts and the Odawara Living Blog for more information.

 

Minami Ashigara Sports Centre is only a 25 minute walk from Kevin`s Tsukahara School.   It has a small workout area, a running track, a pool, tennis courts, a soccer field, many gyms, aikido, karate, shorenji kempo and judo classes. There are also many sports clubs in the area. You can check with Odawara City Hall, Kaisei Town Hall, or Minami Ashigara City Hall to obtain a list of all the clubs. There is an extensive magazine in Japanese that lists all the clubs--not only sports clubs but art and everything else in between. There are literally hundreds of clubs.

Just where is Odawara you may be wondering, and where do they get those fantastic umeboshi from? Odawara is a city of 200,000 located near the Izu Penninsula in south-west Kanagawa Prefecture. We are one hour south of Yokohama by regular express train and 80 minutes south of Tokyo via the Odakyu line. The umeboshi are pickled plums in English, and if you love salty food, you have to try them. There are plum trees throughout the area and there is a plum festival celebrating this bounty in February. Odawara is also famous for kamaboko a kind of fish version of spam that many Japanese love. We have a fantastic castle with a moat, and cherry trees. You really should see it if you come to Japan. We also boast the largest shopping centre in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Minami Ashigara, borders Odawara and has about 45,000 citizens. All Japanese older than 4 know that Kintaro a famous fairy tale took place here. Minami Ashigara was voted as having the best water in Japan, and that is why Fuji Film chose this small city to make its` film (a water intensive process), and Asahi Beer built its` latest high tech brewery in our city. We are located in a pleasant river valley of rice fields, businesses and fantastic views of Mount Fuji.



Banking: Sagami Tribank is a good, reliable bank if you can find one near you. I have dealt with them for over a decade with no problems. They seem to have avoided many of the pitfalls that put larger banks under. The drawback of the Minami Ashigara branches are that there are virtually no English speaking staff. I have never met any, but there may be some. Some of my friends have used Citibank. With Citibank all banking can be done by phone in English including exchanging Yen to $ when the $ is low.Although branches are only in Tokyo and Yokohama, you can open an account by mail. You can also get acredit card that gives you Northwest Airlines air miles. Otherwise Daichi Kangyo in Odawara is good because they have some English speaking staff and a cash machine. It is located across from the fish market and has a red and white sign. The Bank of Yokohama near Odawara Station seems to be a good bank as well. Take it for what it is worth. I am not an expert on Japanese banking by any means. Back

Internet: There are internet cafes in Odawara but they come and go, so it is best to check at The Odawara Bulletin Board to see where they currently exist. You can get good service from various webservers in our area. I used to use So-Net--a Sony company, as it is cheaper than many for basic service. There is virtually no English support though apart from a very limited webpage. One plus with so-net is you can pay by automatic withdrawl with a credit card. I hate having to go and pay at the bank every month. I have never been overcharged.

Pat-net is good but expensive. They are not as foreigner friendly as So-net. Only one member of the staff seems to understand any English and his English is quite limited. They do not seem interested in getting or keeping the business of the expatriat population of the area. You can do better with So-net or some of the others. So-net seems to have support in English by Email, but one of our teachers had trouble when he tried to get English support over the phone, the woman who called him back only spoke Japanese. OCN comes highly rated but I have never used them. I don't know if they have support in English.

I don`t recommend OCN based on the fact that so many of my friends have had trouble getting hooked up--software conflicts and other problems. With so-net my wife was able to get things working by calling their service department and of course solving the problem while speaking Japanese.

Yahoo BB is good, plus you can call home for a discounted rate with their phone service. I like theirservice so far. I have now switched to Yahoo BB from So-net. Update: Overall I think Yahoo BB is the best for internet.though in 2006, there still is not a lot of English support. You will need a Japanese friend to help you get hooked up anddeal with problems. You might be able to get an English speaking staffer at Yahoo but I don`t guarantee that."Actually, there is an English application and support site forYahoo! BB. The support is unofficial, but not too bad. Main site ishere:"http://bbapply.com--James

Hotmail: I actually use a hotmail address for my business as I have found their antivirus software great. It doeslook a little cheap as an address but it sure is safe. I receive many files from all over the world as teachersapply for positions with our schools, and hotmail has saved us from many viruses. I used regular antivirussoftware plus my domain address before, and lost our computer. Nasty! I may change to Yahoo thoughas it looks a little more professional than hotmail. I don`t mean the quality, I mean the impression theaddress gives. As one reader wrote: "You look fly-by-night with a hotmail address."


Places and Clubs of Interest in Odawara


小田原 Odawara Living 小田原
"Finally found a place that I might like to live. Went to Odawara today. I've been torn because I have wanted to live near the Pacific Ocean and the mountains and have easy access to Tokyo. Odawara has all three and is so close to Hakone, Atami and Izu. Also, there are so many trains passing through Odawara....easy to connect to various cities."--Neil Stalnaker General Information About Living in Odawara

Places of Interest in Odawara

The Odawara International Lounge:
0465-24-7760, 15-19, 1 Chome Sakaecho,Odawara. Sakaecho Parking Lot, third floor. Located next to the Odawara Post Office. It is in the nicest parkade you will ever find, built to look like an old Japanese building. In this very comfortable lounge, you will find magazines and newspapers in English. Any foreigner can come and use the facilities here for free. The aim of the lounge is to provide useful information to foreign residents and for supporting activities of international volunteer groups and international exchange activities. It really deserves more use and publicity. A nice place to relax. Japanese lessons every Monday from 10:30AM, cost ¥100!

The Odawara Christian Centre:
0465-34-2438(English), 34-2796 (Japanese) Tues-Fri. 9AM-5PM). They hold church services in English and Japanese. They also offer free Japanese classes for foreigners. Community Counseling in English is offered in Yokohama, for inquiries call Scott Smith at 03-3968-4084. Free confidential telephone counseling at 03-3968-4099.

****************************************************************************************Odawara International Friendship Association:
0465-33-1707, Japanese class: 24-5649. A great website with a lot of information about the city. Maybe the best! It even has a clickable map of the downtown area.

 Japanese Lessons:
The Odawara International Lounge offers almost free Japanese lessons and the teachers are great! Go to the Lounge (next to Odawara`s Main post office) and find out
which days and times are best for your level of Japanese.

If you work for Kevin`s English Schools we offer free Japanese lessons to you! There are also free Japanese lessons offered at the Odawara Christian Centre. The Odawara International Club offers Japanese lessons as well. You can advertise for a Japanese teacher at The Odawara Bulletin Board .

English Newspapers & Magazines:
How to Teach English in Japan

 
Japan Living Blog
This is owned and edited by yours truly so please check us out too!

Japan Living Forum
This is a huge and lively Yahoo Group! We were featured on Yahoo Group`s Editor`s Page and reviewed favourably there.   Join our forum about life in Japan!

How to Get to Narita from the Odawara Area?
by Kevin Burns

The Fujikyu bus only costs 4,000 Yen/adult and leaves from various points around Odawara and Minami Ashigara. It is a comfortable ride and a great service. I much prefer it over Narita Express or other ways as it is point to point. You don`t need to transfer anywhere. I get on the bus in Minami Ashigara and can sleep the whole way if I want to.

Here is their link:

http://www.fujikyu.co.jp/syonan/narita-highway2.html
 

How to Get to Narita by Train from Odawara

by Sandra Isaka

Getting to Narita is a real pain, but it can be
fairly stress-free with a little preparation.

The fastest way to Narita is to take the Tokaido line from
Odawara to Ofuna or Yokohama. Then, change to the 'Narita
Express'or 'NEX', which heads straight to the airport.

If you can catch an 'Acty' on the Tokaido line, it will
take you about 40 minutes to Ofuna, or about 55 to
Yokohama. (On the regular train it's about 48 minutes and
63 minutes). Then,on the NEX from Ofuna,it takes
just under 2 hours to the airport. From Yokohama, 1
1/2 hours. Only a few trains per day run from Ofuna,
so it is all about what connections are best for
you. Remember that you must make a reservation for the
NEX ahead of time! The cost of the NEX is about 4500
yen from Ofuna, and 4200 yen from Yokohama.

There is another way to go that is occasionally quicker,
but only if your connections are perfect. The Odakyu
Romance Car from Odawara to Shinjuku takes 1 hour and 15
minutes. You can then jump on a NEX train in Shinjuku that
heads directly to the airport. That ride takes about an
hour and 15 minutes and costs about 3200 yen.

There are much cheaper ways to travel, but it is well
worth it to spend the extra money to travel in a
reserved seat with as few stops and transfers as
possible!
If anyone else knows a quick way, or if you know
the 'cheapest' way for those on a budget, please let
us know!


Blogger Mackball said...

Cheapest Way: Take the Odakyu Rapid Express, it comes maybe once or twice every hour. It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes and costs 850 yen, or 8 dollars U.S. Transfer. At Shinjuku, transfer to Yamanote Line, it is the most popular line in Tokyo so it runs less than every 5 minutes. Than transfer to the Kesei Limited Express. The trip from Shinjuku to Narita is 1,190 yen.