One of the most popular places for people to visit in Japan is the fish market in Tsukiji, Tokyo. There is also a wonderful fish market and harbor located in Odawara, a short train ride from Hakone. Odawara harbor is the main port for fishermen in the area. The fish brought in every morning are from the bountiful Pacific Ocean and delivered to restaurants, hotels, and shops all over the area. From Hotel Okada, it is a wonderful day trip option and experience to have while in Japan.

You can come to the harbor in the early morning to watch the fish be offloaded. There are also auctions for the fresh fish of the morning that are exciting to watch. The morning atmosphere of the market is a truly Japanese experience and unforgetable because of the insight and understanding it can give you to life in Japan.

Even if you aren’t able to wake up in the early morning hours the harbor is still a great place to visit for good food, ocean views, and the freshest sushi you can find. There are many options and places located around the harbor that take advantage of the fresh fish brought in everyday.

Enjoy an all you can eat seafood BBQ next to harbor, try the simple Ochazuke “Japanese Soul Food” made of broth, rice, and a fish topping. There are also many restaurants specializing in fish and sushi around the harbor. One of the area`s most popular Italian restaurants is also located here. A special sweet treat is the popular Japanese shaved ice sold at one of the stores here.

Every morning before dawn the white fishing boats of Odawara set out into the pacific Ocean to check their fishing nets and fish for the days catch. The islands of Japan have a close connection with the sea and fish has been a main food for centuries. We all associate Japan with sushi, but there are so many other types of fish and dishes prepared in the country. Tsukiji is a popular place to visit, but Odawara is just as interesting and allows you to get closer and more personal with the fish, fisherman, and atmosphere of the market.

The morning market is a great experience. It is a place of work so please be on your best behaviour. The people of the market and welcoming and friendly, but sometimes busy. The fish starts to get off loaded from about 6:00am and the sorting will start. You can walk around and see the different fish in different bins. These bins are inspected then bid on by the fishmongers, easily distinguished by their numbered hats. The bidding process can be viewed and is difficult to understand for even native Japanese. The bidding process tends to use specialized terms and words used to mask the bidding prices from normal people.

Getting to Odawara Harbor is easy. From Hakone Yumoto Station the trip is only about 20 minutes. Take the Odakyu Train for Odawara Station. At Odawara Station change train lines to the JR Tokaido Line headed west, usually for Atami of Ito. The harbor is located at the next station, only 2 minutes away, Hayakawa Station. A short 5 minute walk from Hayakawa Station will bring you to the harbor. The morning fish market and restaurants will be on the harbor side closest to the ocean. The harbor is a pleasant 20 minute walk from Odawara Station that will also give you the option of seeing Odawara Castle, local neighborhoods, and other shops. There bike rentals on the castle grounds are a great option too.

Jeff Mizuta

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