Odawara Townwalk in Kanagawa
A friend of mine, who has lived in Odawara for more than 10 years, criticizes each temple and old house in Odawara city for being such small historical sites for tourists as compared to Kamakura or Kyoto. I partly agree, but Odawara city has a long history as a health resort, so it is unique from other traditional tourist areas. A one-night stay in a nice guest house, while enjoying seafoods and having a relaxing time in Odawara city, would be a good idea.
In Odawara, you can enjoy a beautiful beach and short hiking up a hill, and it is convenient to visit from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train in just 30 mins. Odawara city is not so huge and it’s easy to walk around. The neighbourhood has been popular with politicians and business leaders since the Meiji period, the modern period after the Edo period, who built their second houses in Odawara. It is popular to build a second house due to its location near the Hakone and Atami hot spring areas, with great nature of both mountains and seaside. For decades it was a haven for artists and writers, many of whom created fine-arts and music here. You can visit those old Japanese houses in Odawara. I used to live in an old Japanese house, and I hated it. My friends were living in modern houses and had their own room with air conditioner. My house was too dark to go to the bathroom by myself when my family had gone out. Looking back, it was a precious experience for me to live in a traditional Japanese wooden house though.
I came to Odawara to check out Odawara Castle and Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum and I took the route going back from Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum to Odawara Station, visiting some traditional Japanese houses. In the town, the waterway is running. It is called Odawara Yosui and it was said that the Hojo clan built it for drinking water. It was fun to walk around near the waterway and to see the clear flow of water amongst the residential area created a special atmosphere.
1. Matsunaga Kinenkan Museum
Yasuzaemon Matsunaga was a businessman who played a significant role in the Electronics industry before and after World War Ⅱ. Matsunaga Kinenkan Museum exhibits his old house and tea rooms. It takes less than one hour to look around, but it’s a nice drop-by on the way back to Odawara Station from Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum.
2. Odawara Bungakukan
Odawara Bungakukan features novelists who used to live in Odawara city. The building has beautiful European architectural style with a bright sunroom. Walking through its cozy garden, you can visit Hakushu Doyo kan located next to Odawara Bungakukan, featuring Hakushu Kitahara. Hakushu Kitahara, a children’s song writer who introduced Mother Goose to the Japanese, used to live in Odawara city. The building itself was built for a Count’s second house in Odawara. It has a cozy and green garden to take a rest. The main entrance of the building is also sophisticated and the approach to the entrance is well considered with a curved design.
Seikantei was built in 1906 as the second house of Nagashige Kuroda, a former member of the nobility. It’s located on a small hill near Odawara Castle and has a nice cafe and well-kept garden. Seikantei was built in the Sukiya-style and I saw antique wooden pieces of furniture and traditional technique designed with simplicity.
The cafe has a wide space and is facing the garden. I could relax while enjoying cold drinks after a long walk from Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum.
4. Miyukino Hama Beach
After visiting Odawara Castle, it’s good to play around at the Miyukino Hama Beach. You can walk through the residential area from Odawara Castle and pass through under the bridge. Suddenly the beautiful Miyuhino Hama Beach appears in front of you. The water was so clear. Some people were having fun with their family playing with waves and fishing near a small lighthouse.
5. Houtoku Ninomiya Shrine
Houtoku Ninomiya Shrine is located in the Odawara Castle Park and a cafe was located next to it. Houtoku Ninomiya Shrine was constructed in 1894 and enshrined Takanori Ninomiya who studied hard and successfully worked as a servant to a Samurai martial house. When I was a child, every elementary school had a statue of Ninomiya carrying firewoods on his back as a great example of hard work. He was called Kinjiro when he was a child. He looks similar to my child when he goes to prep school carrying heavy texts on his back, so I call my son Kinjiro sometimes. My son is still pre-teens, so he is always smiling with my joke.