Sitting about 70-90 minutes from central Tokyo by train, and just 15 minutes east of Hakone, Odawara is a lesser-known gateway to historical Japan. It's a town most famous for its iconic Odawara castle, the occasional samurai, and for being the first town within the scenic and hot spring rich Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. A destination so deeply connected to its roots and filled with incredible surprises, Odawara is the ideal destination for one to step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to just reflect and reconnect with oneself, and we've curated the perfect experience in which to do so.
Crafted in collaboration with local makers, our tour 'Odawara Mindfulness: Journey to Odawara is Journey to Yourself' is a short-stay program designed for high-end overseas travelers in mind. On this tour, you'll experience some of the finest gastronomical offerings the region has to offer; you'll learn about the Japanese take on 'wellness' through teachings by zen masters and discover a side of Japan that will surprise and delight you.
Meeting your local expertAt Odawara Station, you'll be greeted by Yoshie Matsumoto, a nationally licensed guide who lives in Odawara City when you arrive. As the chairman of the Japan Federation of Certified Guides, Ms. Matsumoto is an incredibly experienced guide and a valuable source of information. As a local of Odawara, she was excited to join this project as an opportunity to showcase the area's many charms. After an introduction by your guide and a COVID health check, you will be given a COVID-19 infection kit (spare mask, sterilization sheet, sterilization spray, and pocket warmer) before hopping in the taxi and heading off to Seikantei.
Explore SeikanteiSeikantei is a spectacular piece of Odawara history and the key location for your day. This traditional Japanese home is a nationally registered tangible cultural property and was once the villa and garden of the former lord and influential politician Marquis Kuroda (1867-1939). The artfully designed and meticulously maintained home boasts wonderful views of the town of Odawara, the Sea of Sagami, and the lush surrounding pine trees.
The day’s experiences are all based around this wonderful house. For the tour, we have prepared "Meditation Zen," "Seikantei Original Course Lunch," "Incense Making," and "Seikantei Original Afternoon Tea." The entire building can be rented out so guests can enjoy each experience a dedicated room, it’s a place where you can relax with your five senses.
Getting zenThe experience begins with a zen meditation session led by chief priest Iwayama of Odawara City's Ganshuji temple. The session, positioned in scenic surroundings, fuses ideologies and methods of zen meditation with mindfulness and deep awareness of oneself. It priest Iwayama who inspired the title of this program, teaching us that a 'journey to Odawara is journey to yourself.' Let the pine trees and the sea spread out below you, and take the time to see, listen, and feel both within and outside of yourself.
Culinary eleganceFollowing the invigorating and empowering meditation session, it's time for lunch. The day's meals are provided by one of Odawara City's most respected restaurants, MECIMO.
MECIMO is an elegant French restaurant started by Odawara-born Mr. Yamamoto and his co-founder Mr. Kuzukubo. Before launching the restaurant, Mr. Yamamoto studied winemaking in Rhone, France, and worked as a sommelier in Aoyama's award-winning restaurant Narisawa after returning to Japan. Mr. Kuzukubo worked as a chef in Michelin-starred restaurant Hajime in Osaka, after which he trained in France for five years, so you know you're in good hands!
During the tour, you'll enjoy Seikantei's original course lunch and afternoon tea, which use carefully selected seasonal local ingredients. Be sure to take a moment also to appreciate the tableware, which was also created by Odawara's local artisans.