May 5th is a Children’s Day (Boy’s festival) in Japan and we hang up the carp streamers called “Koinobori” on Children’s day. Parents display “Koinobori” hoping that their children will grow up healthy and strong. The origin of “Koinobori” is a historical event in ancient China. It’s said that a carp was the only one which won a race among other fishes, and became a dragon. That’s why a carp was chosen to be a symbol of Boy’s festival. On a side note, a Girl’s Day is on March 3rd. The picture below is Koinobori that are hung up in a little park in front of Midtown Roppongi. Early May is definitely the most beautiful time of the year if it is not raining.
Trip to Odawara
Golden Week (GW) is a long holiday week in Japan. I did not get to travel far but went to Odawara which is a little Onsen (Hot Spring) town not too far from Hakone, Kanagawa prefecture. It was just a day trip to Odawara but we enjoyed good seafood and Onsen there. The Odawara station is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the JR Tokyo station by local train. I recommend paying a little extra money to get onto green car compartments so that most likely you can get a seat on the train. Or if you don’t have much time, then you can also take Shinkansen (express train) which takes only 30 minutes from the JR Tokyo station to the Odawara station. The latter option is more expensive than buying the green car ticket, but you can save a lot of time.
Seafood in Odawara
Odawara is a town that is close to the ocean so they have some good seafood. We went to the local Sushi restaurant called “Tenshiro Zushi” which is very close to the Odawara station. It is such a small Sushi resutaurant so if you plan to try this resutaurant, I highly recommend making a reservation beforehand. Apparently, there are a lot of other Sushi resutaurants in the area but this restaurant got good reviews on the Tabelog website as you can see below.
The resutauran itself is really old but the quality of Sushi was amazing!
The Odawara Castle is one of the most famous spots in Odawara. If you want to see a beautiful castle while you are in the Tokyo area, I highly recommend visiting the Odawara castle.
Odawara castle was first constructed in the middle of the 15th century. The Hojo Family conquered this area early in the 16th century and gradually expanded the castle. The castle became the largest when “Sogamae”, the biggest fortress with about 9 km moat and mound surrounding the castle town, was built for protection from Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s attack in 1590.
In the Edo Period, the castle was scaled down by the Okubo Family, the ruler of Odawara Castle after the fall of the Hojo family. The next ruler, the Inaba Family renovated the castle into a modern style. In 1703, most building in the castle was collapsed by the Genroku Earthquake. After that, the Okubo Family reconstructed the castle and served as the political headquarters of Kanto region until the end of Edo era.
In 1870, the castle was almost demolished by the Meiji government. The castle tower was reconstructed in 1960 and now the Odawara castle is designated as national assets and became a historical park. The castle tower was again renovated in 2016 so it looks really beautiful these days.
I would recommend buying tickets to enter the castle tower online so that you can cut through the long line and save some time.
In the end of the trip, we stopped by at Onsen called Monyo-no-yu close to the Odawara station. It is a little Onsen spot where you can enjoy Onsen, food, massage, etc. The facility itself was kind of old but the quality of onsen itself was good. There may be better Onsen Ryokan in Odawara but if you are looking for a quick, easy, and convenient Onsen spot in Odawara, this may be a good option for you.
There is a little shopping mall/hotel called Minaka Odawara in front of the Odawara station. The building with retro look has a lot of shops to buy souvenirs. We bought some seafood jars (bottled seafood) which can be used for pasta or other kinds of dish at the shop called “Awabiya.”