Over the past several weeks I have walked to many local parks to view the blossoming plum trees.They all had small groves and I enjoyed them very much, but when Miwa suggested we travel over to the Hakone area to see the mother lode of plum trees I was ready to go.
It is early spring and time for a day trip away from the city. Just four stops or sixteen minutes beyond Odawara is Yugawara, home of the Yugawara Bairin, “Party of Plum.”
After a 15-minute bus ride from the station we entered Makuyama Park (200 yen entrance fee) where you will see 4000 pink and white plum trees in bloom. They start in mid February and peak in mid March. Today the trees were halfway there and it still was a spectacular sight.
There are hiking trails through out the park and several to the top of Makuyama Mountain.
The weather forecast was for warm temperatures, but because of the high winds from the ocean warmth never materialized. Other than that it was a bright sunny day and great for a hike up the mountain. Makuyama Mountain is 625 meters high or 2050 feet and is part of the Hakone Volcano area. The trail up is just a little over 5 kilometers and with the wind it was a little slow going. Because there wasn’t much to see on the trail several times we almost turned around. We finally made it to the top and decided it was worth it just for the exercise. Along the trail we could see off in the distance Manazaru Peninsula, Hatsu Island and Sagami Bay. We had arrived when the park opened at 9 a.m. and the hiking was nice and quiet with only a few others attempting the climb. On the way down we were greeted with crowds of seniors out for some serious hiking.
When we arrived back in the park we observed several people rock climbing. I was wondering how they hung on with such high winds. It did not seem to bother them.
At the bottom there were several concession stands selling local fruit, wines, sake, and various other items. We tried the plum soft cream and it was excellent. Miwa purchased some fruit, which was half the price of our supermarket and they even provided lots of free samples.
We rode the bus back to the station for our next stop Hayakawa. This little town is just south of Odawara and boasts some of the best seafood in the area. Take a seven-minute walk from the station to a Odawara Fish Center. There are many restaurants to chose from. We had visited Asaichisahokudo restaurant 3 years ago and were determined to dine there again. I ordered the Tuna bowl and with it came a large scallop cooked at our table. Miwa had the fish variety bowl. I cannot think of another way to spend 1500 yen that will give your palate such a tasty treat.
After we left the restaurant Miwa asked how far a walk it was to Odawara station. Since it was only 30 minutes we decided to take the road, so I could see how the restoration of Odawara Castle was progressing. It will open back up next month and I will be visiting it once again.
Most of the covering is off the top and from the station you can again see the beautiful castle off in the distance.
There are so many great day trips from Tokyo/Yokohama right here in our prefecture. When planning your Japan trip make sure you have some time to explore beyond the cities. There is something for everyone just around the corner.