Things to See & Do
On the Coast, Near the Mountains and boasting great restaurants too, paradise?
Sites of Interest
by Sandra Isaka
I think this is one of the best places in Japan to live.
Close to Tokyo, but not too close.
Narita and Haneda airports are nearby.
Hakone, the Fuji 5 Lakes, Izu, and Kamakura are all less than an hour away.
This valley is beautiful, nice rivers, great hiking, great local festivals,...
I've been here for 7 years with no intention of moving.
Most of the ALT's in this area are here to stay (almost
all have married locals),so they are a good resource and if
you become friends, you don't have to worry that they'll
be leaving anytime soon.
The owner of Shalamar [nightclub] married an ALT in Odawara,
so the bar is very 'gaijin' friendly. Shalamar is about a 5 minute
walk from Odawara Station (very close to the Shane English School and
John Festas). Their phone number is 0465-23-5641.
As for hangouts, Shalamar and John Festas [Now has a new name]
are the main ones, but I haven't met most of the eikaiwa
teachers in this area, they may have a hangout of their own.
You can also sometimes find us at one of the area gyms (the
Odawara Arena, the Minami Ashigara Taiku Center, Daido Sports
*If you have questions about Odawara, Minami Ashigara, Kaisei Town,
Hakone, or Oimachi feel free to ask them at the Odawara Bulletin Board
link above right.
Pictured: Park in Nagano, courtesy of Fuji Film Minami Ashigara Shi
Not quite, but it isn`t so far away.--Kevin
by Sandra Isaka
"The Seiyu in Gotemba has had a Walmart 'feel' to it for a couple of years ('rollback prices' signs, US Walmart clothing (in much smaller sizes), some food items,... I didn't find much that interested me, but it was better than Seiyu before Walmart. I haven't been there in a long time, so it might be even better. Isn't there a Seiyu in the Hadano/Nakai area as well?"--Sandra Isaka
Took a ride over to Numazu last weekend to check out the new Seiyu.
First, by Tomei from Matsuda, the ride took only 35 minutes (right to
the front doors). This, of course, depends on traffic. It was
raining, but there was no traffic at all, so this is probably the
fastest you can get there.
The store itself. When you pull in, the coloring is all Walmart.
Inside it is as if you have been transported back to the States, only
the ailes are even wider and the place is even more 'open'. There is
a small, but nicely done food court, serving a number of different
foods. Italian, Thai, Hawaiian, and some regular Japanese
selections. I didn't acually eat anything, however.
The grocery section reminded me of the new "MAXVALU" here in Kaisei.
In fact, I'd say there was almost no difference except for the fish
department. That area looked pretty fantastic (but you need to
actually know HOW to prepare all those fish). I saw only a handful
of Walmart brand food items (actually, only 3 or 4). So, don't go
there expecting foreign foods, there aren't any.
The clothing department was more promising. Some of the ladies
underwear was straight from Walmart, and some of the 'basic' items (t-
shirts, shorts,...) were also imported. I think the sizing is a
little different, but I didn't really get a close look. I bought 'L'
size underwear and they actually fit. Men's section looked decent,
as did the children's clothing department.
They had a nice ladies sunglasses display (all for 700 yen), plus
unbrellas, hats, purses,...
Cosmetics, medicine, toys, baby goods, electronics,... were all
Japanese products. Housewares was different. There was a lot of
the 'Martha Stewart' brand (that used to be carried by Kmart in the
States). There is no 'scandal' here for Martha, so it could be a
perfect place to build a brand following for her! Anyway, the
towels, sheets, kitchen goods,... were mostly Martha. Unfortunately
for me, the sheets were all 'adapted' for the Japanese market. Cool
sheets,... that fit futons, instead of the regular 'queen' and 'king'
sized sets you get back home.
Blankets and other types of bedding were all Japanese. Nothing
All in all, I only bought some underwear and a pair of sunglasses. I
probably won't go back, but I am glad I got to see it. I think
NITORI in Odawara (and Hadano) has just as good a selection (and
prices) on home goods, and MAXVALU is just as good for food. A
little out of the way for just a 'natsukashii' feeling.
On the other hand, if I lived in Numazu, things would be different.
I'd probably shop there every week.
As well if you can go to Yokohama or Tokyo check out the
Don Quixote Stores (written in katakana). They are Japan`s
version of Walmart and stocked literally full of cheap to
reasonably priced items. The range they carry is truly huge
and my only fear is that I will be buried by their merchandise
during an earthquake, the store is packed so chalk-full of items to buy.--Kevin
by Sandra Isaka
The Odawara City Mall has a lot to offer,
including 'Nitori', a home furnishing and furniture store.
If you have ever visited a 'Home Place' or similar
home furnishing store back home, 'Nitori' will be a
It is wide and spacious, with a good
selection and great prices. I purchased a 20 piece dish set
for only 2000 yen. There are at least 20 patterns to
choose from, all ranging from 2000 yen to 4000 yen. I
was also very suprised and happy to see self-adhesive
wallpaper borders. They are a great, inexpensive way to
dress up a Japanese apartment. You can peel them off in
seconds if moving or remodeling. There are also many
items that would make great gifts. If you want a taste
of North America, try shopping at 'Nitori'.
by Shawn Thir
I think you are right in but allow me to play
devil's advocate by saying if the big box stores move in,
what will happen to the small store owner? Of course,
a lot will go out of business.
Look at City Mall which Nitori is in. It's a bustling place.
Look at all the other shops around it. Compare that with
downtown Odawara-dead. I wonder what will happen to small
towns like Odawara in the future. They need some kind
of plan to draw people to shop and spend their money
Yes, Japan is changing but at glacial
speed. You can't realy blame the Japanese, either; they
are simply trying to protect the system they have now
without having to go through the American restructuring
of the 1990s. However, I personally feel it is only
a matter of time before the American Way of doing
business becomes the norm.
by Kevin Burns
Shawn, I agree in terms of reforms things are
going glacially. But in terms of consumerism,
changes have been dramatic and quick.
Only a few
years ago many people were willing
to spend a lot
of money for many things. Now,
no way. Many stores large and small with
inexpensive items abound. The restaurants too have followed
I agree, the Odawara downtown core will have
to be revitalized in some way. I think once the
flow of customers starts to ebb, the downtown
stores will spruce up their store fronts and do
other things to attract customers, otherwise they
The problem is the whole area will really need to
do this, and I find that many shop keepers
are rather complacent about simply painting their shops
and doing things to make them more attractive.
My wife had a store in Kayama and it was a beautiful
little store. The problem was the surrounding stores
weren't. No flowers, old crumbling paint and not very
attractive. Kayama could be a fun little shopping area if
everyone got together and spruced up their stores. But
many of them, at that time anyway, hadn't been
painted in years. My wife's store in downtown Odawara
or Kamonomiya would have been a success, but in Kayama it
withered and died with the end of the Bubble economy.
The rent was very high and the
out. It was too bad. Unfortunately we thought we had
chosen an up and coming area, but what we really had
chosen was one with very complacent store owners.
Update: The downtown area of Odawara is witnessing
a revival with many downtown stores being renovated.
by Shawn Thir
Where: Located up the hill from Iidaoka Station on the Daiyuzan Line
Closer to home, I highly recommend the Kuno Flower
Garden in Odawara. It is bedside the incinerator on top
of the hill near the Japan Tobacco factory. The
garden offers year round viewing with Ume in the winter,
some sakura for the spring, loads of hydrangeas for
the summer and lots of maples for leaf viewing in the
When I went there on the weekend, they had an open air
farmer's market, mainly dealing in flowers and gardening
supplies but you could also pick up some local fruit and
vegetables for dirt cheap. There's tons of space at the
garden for a picnic or, if you're more active, there is
also a huge paved open space that would be perfect for
roller blading. Check it out.
"The city fathers seem to be aware of this, though, and have
apparently decided that a city of Odawara's size and historical
significance really ought to have a few cultural amenities- some
historical sites, say, maybe a few museums, a library, maybe a zoo.
And with typical impeccable Japanese logic, they have decided to
provide all these things. In the same place."
This surprisingly good earth science museum in Odawara is located near Iriuda Station on the Hakone-Tozan train line. Check out the link below for a map and more information in Japanese. It is well worth a visit on a rainy day or if you want a break from the heat of summer. Great for the kids too--dinosaurs, mammoths, insects galore!
"Inside the unique building are displays of fossils of dinosaurs and ammonites, and the 4.6 billion year history of the earth is explained from the viewpoints of "earth", "life", "Kanagawa" and "symbiosis"."--Kanagawa Now
3 mins. walk from Iriuda sta. on the Hakone Tozan line
Pictures of Hadano, courtesy of Jonathan DeNardis
Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan is a beautiful city of 165,000 people about 70 minutes south of Tokyo and nestled next to the mountains. There is great air, hiking and sightseeing in and around the city.
Some Canadians say it reminds them of Kelowna,
British Columbia. Which is strange as there is no lake,
and often no river--the river through Hadano runs after
it rains! But there is an ambience that
reminds one of Kelowna. Maybe you have to visit Hadano
to know what I am saying.
Hadano can be accessed by the Odakyu Line and is about 20 minutes
north of Odawara and 70 minutes south of Tokyo`s Shinjuku Station.
It boasts a large library with many English books,riverside walks and a cosmopolitan atmosphere for a mid-sized Japanese city. Where South Americans, Asians and North Americans live side by side with the Japanese. Along route 246 you can often see people of different nationalities taking their nightly walk with their family. If you walk
around the city you can see where they live, and perhaps eavesdrop on
some Brazilian music or sniff some Chinese food being cooked nearby.
The Tobacco Festival is a huge annual event here and has many fun activities going on all along the river and downtown. It shouldn`t be missed!
Photo of Odawara Jyuku Nariwai Rest House courtesy of Kanagawa Kankou: www.kanagawa-kankou.or.jp/
by Kevin Burns
Address: 3-6-23 Honcho, Odawara City 250-0012
Originally a fishing net wholesale shop built in 1932
(Or the 7th year of the Showa Era). It was reopened
as a rest house for tourists and citizens in 2001.
It can be used to relax in or as a presentation centre.
The building is very interesting and a local landmark.
They style is one of a typical merchant`s house.
It was rebuilt after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923.
Truly it gives you the feeling of what Odawara was like
in years long gone.
To Get There:
Get off at Odawara sta. on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen line, JR line, Odakyu line, Daiyuzan line, Hakone Tozan line, and take a Odawarajuku Sightseeing Excursion Bus from the east exit.(The Odawara Shuttle Bus runs from the East Exit during certain times of the year.)
Hakone Daimyou Gyouretsu
Date: November 3 (Holiday)
Location: Yumoto Onsen Machi
Access: Get off at Hakone Yumoto Station on the Odakyu Line or the
Hakone Tozan Railway
This event includes a spectacular Hakone Daimyou Gyouretsuular
daimyou gyouretsu procession and parades of
approximately 200 Yumoto geiko (geisha) and te-odori dance.
Keyari lance performances held midway are also not to be missed.
Departs from Souun-ji Temple (Yumoto Elementary School, 10:00) and
ends at the Yumoto Fujiya Hotel around 14:20.
For details, contact the Hakone Yumoto Tourist Association (Tel: 0460-85-7751)
Don and Amy Johnson
Odawara Christian Center
To get to the Christian Centre, take the Shinkansen
side exit of Odawara Station, go left outside the
station until you pass a police box underneath
the train tracks on your left. After that cross
the street and go up the narrow side street you
will see right in front of you. You will find the
Odawara Christian Centre on the right.
It is a white three story building
(small box-like building). The restaurant
is on the first floor.
The Odawara Christian Centre has generously provided space
and has opened a public library. The library looks great!
They bought a step ladder so that people can reach the books on the top
shelf of the library.
Remember too that on the first floor, every Tues-Thursday
you can enjoy a very inexpensive yet, good and nourishing
lunch there too.
"Your idea to establish English lending libraries in Odawara was great and we are happy that we could help you in this endeavor. We think we have some interesting material that people will enjoy reading."--Don Johnson, of the Odawara Christian Centre
All Material at Odawara Living is Copyright 2009