Odawara is a beautiful city located just an hour south of Tokyo. The city is nestled between the Hakone mountains and Sagami Bay. The city is a Shinkansen stop and famous for its well kept castle just a few minutes walk from the station. The town's traditional crafts and food developed from the surrounding natural resources and the concentration of people and wealth as a prosperous castle town and important stop on the Tokaido Road running between Tokyo and Kyoto.
Kamaboko is one of the products that became famous in the Odawara area. Odawara has had a deep relationship with the sea and kamaboko is a product made from the ground meat of fresh fish. Fish is the essential part of making kamaboko, but what makes Odawara kamaboko especially delicious is that it uses the fresh mineral rich spring water filtered through the Hakone mountains. These two factors lead to great tasting kamaboko. There are a number of companies still making kamaboko in Odawara, but the most well known is Suzuhiro.
The Suzuhiro company started in 1865 and is still led by the same family. In Odawara you can visit the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Village to take part in experiences making your own, learn more about kamaboko, and have the chance to taste all kinds of interesting Japanese foods. The Kamaboko Village is located between Odawara and Hakone, just steps away from the Kazamatsuri Station on the Odakyu Line. There are a number of shops and restaurants. You can have lunch at an all natural buffet restaurant using local products, a kaiseki restaurant, or eat soba in a renovated traditional Japanese home.
One of the most enjoyable parts of a visit is taking part in one of their experiences. The impressive studio is the place for a 1-hour guided "Kamaboko Making Experience" that let's you get hands on with this Japanese food. You are guided through making your own and then they will cook it for you to eat later. There are four different experiences available: Kamaboko making, Fried Kamaboko making, Kamaboko art class, and more. Suzuhiro even makes the local craft beer for the area, Hakone Beer. This was an interesting and insightful stop on a trip to discover special parts of Japan.