Odawara is a city with a long and colorful history. There are things and people to enjoy all over town, but here are some highlights of the area.
1. Visit Odawara Castle
Odawara Castle is a wonderful place to gain insight and feel Japanese history. Just minutes from the station, this is a great place to take a stroll and immerse yourself in the history of Japan. The grounds and buildings have been rebuilt as close to original plans as possible and the various museums give you and insight into the world of the samurai, ninja, and battles of the Sengoku Period.
2. Try Local Odawara Food
Discover Japanese culture and history with your taste buds as you try Kamaboko, Uiro, Umeboshi, and many of the other local delicacies in the area. In addition to these local specialities, there are many restaurants that take advantage of the fresh fish caught in the area. And for those looking for more common Japanese foods, around the station you can find yakitori, oyster bars, Italian restaurants, and much much more. See more about local Odawara food here.
3. Visit the Odawara Fish Market
Odawara fish market still holds the ambiance and feel of a Tsukiji, but without the crowds and regulations limiting contact with fishmongers. This fishing port still has a wonderful atmosphere of restaurants, shops, and the smell of the fresh sea breeze. The harbor is less than a 5 minute walk from Hayakawa Station, one station away from Odawara Station.
4. Try Kamaboko, Make Kamaboko
Get local and try Odawara’s most famous product. Odawara has a close relationship to the sea and the area is famous for Kamaboko. Kamaboko is a surimi fish paste that can be prepared in many different ways and flavors. Kamaboko has been made for centuries in the city and most shops are concentrated along the Kamaboko Road just a few minutes walk from the castle. At the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Village one train stop away you can taste, learn, and even make your own!
5. Learn About the Samurai and Ninja
Odawara is most famous for the castle. During the Sengoku period of Japanese history, the Hojo Clan ruled a large part of Japan from here and had many samurai at their command. The combination of the Odawara Castle Museum and Samurai Gallery is an eclectic display of samurai armor, swords, and explanation of the historic battles that took place here.
5. Explore Odawara of Foot
Odawara grew around the castle and it’s close proximity to Tokyo made it a popular place for people to have villas. The compact city is easily explored on foot and you can even rent bicycles near at Umeco near the station or at the Tourism Exchange Center near the castle. There are a number of villas once owned by prominent politicians and businessmen of the past that are now open to the public as well.
6. Ride a Bike in the Countryside
Odawara sits at the base of the Ashigara Plain, a relatively flat area easy for biking. There are great places to visit, things to see, and roads to discover. Biking along the Sakawa river up to Matsuda is a popular route with views of Mt. Fuji, rice fields, and local life. There are bike tours and bike rentals available in the area (bike tours are suspended at the moment, but please reach out if you would like to go on one).
7. Go Hiking in the Mountains or Walk on the Beach
Odawara is surrounded by beautiful nature. Hike the coastal hills of Nebukawa with the many fruit orchards or go into the deep forests of Ashigara. Many of the trails are easily accessible from the train stations in the area and there are different levels of challenge available as well. The sandy beach is also easily accessible and open for swimming during the summer months.
8. Enjoy the Nightlife
Odawara nightlife is centered around the station and gives you an opportunity to explore and enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, and drinks of the town. There are wonderful late night places to enjoy a few drinks and connect with the friendly locals. If you want a guided experience, reach out!
9. Learn a Traditional Craft
Odawara was once a booming castle town with different industries and crafts catering to the needs of the people and travelers in town. There are still opportunities to see metal casting of wind chimes, yosegi woodworking, green tea roasting, and chochin making. Chochin were traditional Japanese lanterns made in Odawara for the travelers headed toward the dark and steep mountains of Hakone. The chochin can be thought of as traditional flashlights, lighting the way for travelers. Take part in a Chochin making experience. These lanterns are compact and easily carried home to be used as a wonderful decorative piece or souvenir.
10. Experience a Japanese Festival
There are events in Odawara throughout the year. Our close connection with castle history, culture, and community make Odawara a wonderful place to experience festival life in Japan. Many local festivals are held in summer and many of the larger ones are held at the castle or temples and shrines throughout town. Check out the schedule so you can visit one during your time here.