Odawara Living 

Guide to Minami Ashigara City

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


Minami Ashigara Living




Things to See & Do

Bulletin Board

School & Store 



Kanagawa Living

Kanto Living


Sites of Interest

Odawara Guide

Hakone Guide

 Facts about Minami Ashigara City

Compiled by TH 

City Area: 7,693ha

1. Residential land: 517ha (7%) 2. Agricultural land: 827ha (11%)
3. Forest land: 5,270ha (68%) 4. Other land: 1,079ha (14%)

2. Climate
1. Average Temperature: 16.2 degree C 2. Highest Temperature: 36.2 degree C3. Lowest Temperature: -3.1 degree C 4. Annual Rainfall: 1509.5 mm

3. Population: 43,702 (April 1, 1995)

1. Male: 21,886 2. Female: 21,816 3. Population Density: 568/square km

4. Other Statistics
1. Tourists: 1,530,905 (1994) 2. Hospitals: 2 3. Schools: Elementary/6, Junior High/4, Senior High/1 4. Sister City: Tilburg, Netherlands

Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd:
World #2 photographic film manufacturer has the largest color film/paper production plants here in Minami-ashigara, where around 4000 people are working. Dominating!

Daiyuzan Saijo-ji Temple (Doryoson):
Founded in 1394, this temple is the third highest in status in the Buddhist Soto Sect (Zen temple), outranked only by Eihei-ji in Fukui and Soji-ji in Tsurumi.  

Daiyuzan Station


Mt. Kintoki-yama
Elevation1213m、the highest peak in the Hakone mountain range.
It is said to be the home-ground of "Kintaro" boy. With various seasonal scenes, hikers like to visit there. At the top, the famous "Kintoki-musume" will welcome you and serve you Japanese tea.

Small but the biggest in the town. Clean and clear water. "Ayu (sweetfish)" is river-fish native to Japan, which only live in clean water like Kari-river.
People love eating "Ayu" as a Japanese traditional delicacy. "Ayu" fishing season opens on June 1, every year.

Daiyuzan Line.
Only one line in the town. Single-tracked. It connects between Odawara, which is the biggest city in the area, and the city center called "Daiyuzan". The distance in between is only 10 km and 21 mimutes ride. The train runs every 12 minutes. No accidents and no competition whatsoever.

"Sunset Waterfall".
One story is that it is named so because the Sun goes down from the center of the fall on January 15th, every year. The 23-meter-high, 5-meter-wide waterfall on the Uchi River on the upper reaches of the Sakawa River (which goes to the Pacific Ocean) is said to have been the place where the legendary Kintaro took his first bath as a new-born baby. The falls and surroundings are beautiful with the fresh green leaves of early summer and the crimson foliage in late autumn. In summertime, the camp-ground is open and the area is enjoyed by people playing along the river.

Along the bank of Horagawa river are Cherry Blossoms.

It is a REAL tourist town, quite friendly, and many of my friends go there for hiking in summer and autumn. Very quiet off-season, and as you guessed not many clubs and bars. Go to Odawara for that. Good intro to the older Japan, that many folks search for.

Originally posted at the Gaijinpot.com Forum

Minami Ashigara City`s Homepage

Minami Ashigara City

by Kevin Burns






Pictured:  Saijo Temple in Minami Ashigara


Pictured:  Ashigara Pass  by Shawn Thir

Sightseeing Spots of Minamiashigara


 Saijoji Temple, according to my brother, rivals anything you will see at Nikko or Kyoto.    I have to agree.    One thing that makes Saijoji better than the temples of Kyoto is the fresh air and the old growth cedarforest you are surrounded by.    Old growth forests are a rarity in Japan and the setting, plus the beautiful buildings make for an amazing experience.

When people imagine: temple, they think of one building.  Saijoji isa whole complex of buildings both shinto and buddhist.    The temple is more alive than many you will see too, with an active group of monks who live and meditate there.    You can see their monastery (the outside and the entrance hall).

Niju Isseki no Mori (21st Century Forest), is a park with hiking trails

deer and wild boar.     Thankfully you rarely run into the latter.  I never have.    I actually get homesick after visiting this huge park as it reminds me so much of the Canadian wilderness, yet it is located only ten minutes from Daiyuzan Station by car.

Maruta no Mori Park

has some old traditional farm houses in the park, hiking trails, wooden

play grounds for the kids, and great camping throughout.    Located

just 10 minutes by car from Daiyuzan Station but a world away from


Only Yu

 is a hotspring located near Maruta no Mori Park.    It is very nice.

A great place to relax.


Kari River Walk

You can walk along the Kari River and enjoy the plum blossoms in the springtime.   You can easily reach the Kari River from Fuji Film Mae Station (Daiyuzan Line).

Minamiashigara City Hall

is a beautiful modern style building with lots of glass, as is the

Cultural Centre located just across the street.     Worth a look!


Minami Ashigara City is a pleasant, little city in Kanagawa, Japan. The Kari River meanders through the town, and fireflies can sometimes be seen in the summertime. The call of the cicadas, remind all of us, that our time on this earth is limited, but somehow Minami Ashigara obliges with the gift of a beautiful day and views of Mounts Fuji and Kintoki.

Saijoji, one of the most underrated temples in Japan is in our city. Not only is the temple itself a site to behold, but the setting out- does most of the temples in Kyoto. Imagine many different temples and shrines with beautiful roof work and other decorations, nestled amongst huge cedar trees. The fresh forest air and the incense mix, taking one to another world. Off the beaten path, it is a rare guidebook one will find Saijoji mentioned in. Yet I take all of my guests there. Some of the best places are still largely secrets.

All around Saijoji is excellent mountain hiking, and a short hike away is Minatonomori, a camp ground and park where you can hear the crickets chat as you sleep.

If you are quiet enough, you might just hear Kintaro, the fabled, strong boy of the area, wrestle his friend, a large bear.

Sometimes Minami Ashigara reminds me of Canada.   Nijuiseikinomori (21st Century Forest) is just such a place. There is hiking throughout the park and it is only 10 minutes by car from downtown Minami Ashigara. Acres and acres of trees, fresh air and flowers, it is a great place to go on a picnic or explore.


Though a small city, there is a train line running from one end to the other. The Daiyuzan line runs from Daiyuzan station to the southeast side of Minami Ashigara, and runs to Odawara Station24 minutes away. Minami Ashigara`s City Hall and Cultural Centre would make many larger cities proud. They boast modern, interesting architectural design with interesting angles and a lot of glass.

Minami Ashigara is a great place to raise a family. The air is fresh and the crime rate is very low. I am happy to have settled here.

 Minami Ashigara has the Best Water in Japan!

Yamakita and Minami Ashigara share the honors in the 100 Waters List for Japan.    That is why Fuji Film, Asahi Beer and various perfume factories have chosen Minami Ashigara to make their products.

It`s the water!

Maruta no Mori: Minami Ashigara`s Annual Camp

by Kevin 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!

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.

 Minami ashigara to Close Yet Another Cultural Asset

by Kevin Burns

Minami Ashigara City has been in trouble for a while now,
tax-wise.  The local pool in Iizawa stayed closed all summer
for the first time in a long while due to "not having enough
money to run it."

For those who don`t know, it was run by students.  They
were the life guards.  It was a great asset to the town.
The students were presumably not paid a lot, yet we were not
able to have the services of the pool.

The latest news is that the Minami Ashigara Cultural Centre
(Bunka Kaikan) will close due to lack of funds.   Apparently
the city hall has tried to sell it!  As well, another rumour
is it may be destroyed.    What a shame!  It is a beautiful
building and a great place to enjoy music or any kind of

Fuji Film apparently due to losses is due for a tax refund
so Minami Ashigara has to pay that back.

Frankly, if I found my taxes so low, I would understand all of these
closures.  But I never feel that I am under-taxed in Japan.

I get so frustrated at times, I think of running for office.
It just seems to me that so much money is wasted on inane
project like cementing the Kari River.  

I don`t think Greenpeace would approve.  

Paving roads that don`t need paving while leaving
roads that need the stop lines repainted--unpainted and in
danger of causing an accident.

What is the difference between the success of a tiny town like
Kaisei with a population of under 20,000 and a larger city like
Minami Ashigara with a population of 44,000?  To me the answer
is good leadership.

The mayor of Kaisei is famous for being innovative and a good leader.
Minami Ashigara lacks that and we are in trouble because of it.

We need good leadership at city hall.  Please someone come forward and save us!