Odawara is filled with zen and green scenery. Though 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station, it is worth the time to uncover its beauty.
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What to Experience...
Urushi | Oo・Roo・Shi
Urushi is traditional Japanese lacquerware. Shining with a glossy, deep finish, the red and black Japanese lacquerware is authentically inspired by nature, with the core of shikki and the lacquer itself both originating from trees. The organic lacquer is made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which is collected by scraping the trees, and refining and aging the sap. After the core wood is shaped using a lathe and dried using various methods, the first layer of urushi is applied to the wood. This only is the first in many layer of patient applications of urushi. Black lacquer is applied second, in the process of irourushi-nuri, and further layerers of black or red lacquer can be applied depending on what color the final product will be. Finally, the final step is kijiro-nuri, where clear lacquer is applied, culminating in many layers of lacqer that eventually render the underlying wood resistant to water, salt, alkali, acid, and alcohol and thus also preventing it from rotting. This completely natural lacquer means that the shikki is completely safe for human use, and the smooth finish and rich, inviting sheen of the lacquer, makes shikki perfect vessels for food as well.
What to See...
Hikawa Shrine is a famous shrine in Kawagoe, Saitama known for worshipping deities related to fate and destiny, or more specifically known in Japanese as enmusubi (縁結び.) Every shrine has a deity or group of deities that they celebrate and since Hikawa Shrine houses the God of relationships, many weddings take place here for good omen. It is said that this place was established 1500 years ago, and the gods commemorated here found around the year 541. The shrine also hosts one of the three great Kanto area matsuri summer festivals. The Kawagoe Hikawa Matsuri is coined as Japan’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, and it is a nationally recognized event. Moreover, the shrine itself is very small and quaint but has lots to see in and around the area. Over the summer, there is a tunnel of glass wind chimes with wishes written and dangling. The cool, light, high pitched chimes flowing with the wind definitely adds to the summer atmosphere of Hikawa Shrine. Take a break and have a moment in peace during your adventures!
What to Do...
Odawara Fish Market 魚市場食堂
If you're looking for fresh fish, for a good price, either raw, fried, or boiled, this is the place for you. This cafeteria is located right insde the Odawara Fish Market enabling them to serve you the freshest fish possible. Most weekends and lunchtime, you have to wait in a long line, but it usually won't take more than 20 minutes before you can get a seat. If you want to even avoid that, have your breakfast here in the morning. Make sure to try their horse mackerel fries and their limited 20 meals a day, "Kaisen Donburi", the fresh fish rice bowl.
Forest Adventure Odawara フォレストアドベンチー小田原
Want to feel like Tarzan? Look no further. At Forest Adventure Odawara, with some safety harness, you can jump between trees, run, and slide through the two adventure courses. Spend a day in the forest, breathe the fresh air away from the hustle bustle of the crowded city, and refresh your mind and soul.
Yamaan Turnpike 山安 ターンパイク
We have all kinds of dried food around the world because dried things last longer and have a unique depth to their taste. "Himono", which is a term used particularly for dried fish products, is loved by Japanese people for the same reason. Yamaan is a manufacturer that has been specializing in "himono" for over 150 years. You can try their "himono" inside the store before purchasing one. We especially recommend you this Yamaan store in taanpaik, because this is a direct sales store and you can find many things for sale.
Where to Eat...
Minatono Gohanyasan 港のごはんやさん
Minatono-gohanyasan, which means a place to eat by the port, is not a place tourists can find on their own, or in their guidebooks, which makes it all the more intresting to visit. This place is loved and needed by the local fishermen and people working in the fish market. Beause the restaurant doesn't look like a restaurant but more like someone's house, the local people can enjoy their breakfast from as early as 6:30 AM, as if they were having breakfast at home. Of course you can have your breakfast here too. Horse mackerel sashimi and fries are their specialties.