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Scenic Cycling Road in Odawara

Enjoy nature along the Sakawa River Wild Life Preserve

Odawara is an excellent place to go when one is in need of a quite place to get away from the hectic life of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Located southwest of Tokyo, on the edge of Kanagawa Prefecture, Odawara is only less than two hours by train from central Tokyo; even quicker if you take the Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) which conveniently makes a stop for local (Kodama Shinkansen) trains. Odawara is also easily accessible by car via the Tomei express way, Odawara Atsugi Road express way , Route 246 or the historic Route 1 which is used for the annual New Year’s Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden (relay marathon) Race.

Odawara has also been made famous by the ukiyo-e woodcut prints (The Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido) which depict a picture of the Sakawa River with Mount Fuji as a backdrop. The Sakawa River is a 46 kilometer long river starting in Shizuoka Prefecture running through Kanagawa Prefecture before emptying into the Sagami Bay along the Seisho beachfront area. If you are looking for a place to have a pleasant bicycle ride, jog or walk there is the Sakawa River Cycling Road along this historic river front.

The Sakawa River Cycling Road is a roughly 10 kilometer paved route along the riverfront. The paved path was built on an elevated bank along the river which makes for many scenic views of the surrounding mountains including Mt. Fuji. There is also an abundance of wild life, and due to this, the area is considered a wild life preserve by Kanagawa Prefecture. On any given day you can see various birds and on occasion even deer can be spotted grazing along the river. This is why there are even signs indicating hunting is prohibited, which is something you don’t often see in Japan, especially on the outskirts of Tokyo!

The Sakawa River Cycling Road begins in the town of Matsuda close to Shin-Matsuda Station (Odakyu Line) and runs along the river past the town of Kasei before ending close to the Ashigara and Hotaruda stations (Odakyu Line) in Odawara City. My home is located close to Hotaruda Station so this is where I often go when I jog or take my pet Labrador retriever (we simply call him Lab ) for a pleasant walk. The Sakawa River Cycling Road is only about 15 minutes walk from Hotaruda station (Odakyu Line) and runs right by the Odawara Arena which conveniently has public parking and is often used by people who drive to the river for leisure.

The only down side to the area is, like anywhere else in the world, you will sometimes see some liter that has either been thrown out by careless people or washed down the river after heavy rains. Considering it is in close proximity to a highly populated city like Tokyo it cannot be considered to be a lot. Also the Sakawa River Cycling Road goes underneath several bridges that cross the river and on the older bridges there are hair pin turns with steep inclines you have to ascend which can be challenging to under exercised legs especially if you have a typical moma chari (bicycle) that doesn’t have gears.

All in all, it is a very nice and peaceful place to go for exercise whether biking, jogging or just a pleasant walk to gather your thoughts after a long stressful work day or hectic tourism schedule.

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