Saturday, January 27, 2007

Minami Ashigara City

by Kevin Burns

Minami Ashigara City is a pleasant, little city in Kanagawa, Japan. The Kari River meanders through the town, and fireflies can sometimes be seen in the summertime. The call of the cicadas, remind all of us, that our time on this earth is limited, but somehow Minami Ashigara obliges with the gift of a beautiful day and views of Mounts Fuji and Kintoki.

Saijoji, one of the most underrated temples in Japan is in our city. Not only is the temple itself a site to behold, but the setting out- does most of the temples in Kyoto. Imagine many different temples and shrines with beautiful roof work and other decorations, nestled amongst huge cedar trees. The fresh forest air and the incense mix, taking one to another world. Off the beaten path, it is a rare guidebook one will find Saijoji mentioned in. Yet I take all of my guests there. Some of the best places are still largely secrets.

All around Saijoji is excellent mountain hiking, and a short hike away is Minatonomori, a camp ground and park where you can hear the crickets chat as you sleep.

If you are quiet enough, you might just hear Kintaro, the fabled, strong boy of the area, wrestle his friend, a large bear.

Sometimes Minami Ashigara reminds me of Canada. Nijuiseikinomori (21st Century Forest) is just such a place. There is hiking throughout the park and it is only 10 minutes by car from downtown Minami Ashigara. Acres and acres of trees, fresh air and flowers, it is a great place to go on a picnic or explore.

Though a small city, there is a train line running from one end to the other. The Daiyuzan line runs from Daiyuzan station to the southeast side of Minami Ashigara, and runs to Odawara Station24 minutes away. Minami Ashigara`s City Hall and Cultural Centre would make many larger cities proud. They boast modern, interesting architectural design with interesting angles and a lot of glass.

Minami Ashigara is a great place to raise a family. The air is fresh and the crime rate is very low. I am happy to have settled here.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tennis in the Odawara Area

Pictured: Dustin Hoffman with tennis coach Kazu Inoue, and players in Hakone

So you`re a swinger are ya? Well good then! Because in the Odawara-Minami
Ashigara area we are blessed with many tennis courts. Ask around--ask your
students and friends. Put the word out that you enjoy tennis as probably
someone around you does too, and will invite you out to their tennis circle,
club or company tennis court. You need an in though generally. You can`t
just walk on a court like you do back home, so do put the word out and
tell others of your interest in playing some tennis.

One of the best places is the Odawara Tennis Garden near Hotaruda Station
(Odakyu Line). It is pretty reasonable. You will need to reserve a court.
You may be able to do this by phone, but you probably have to do it in person
the first time or everytime.

There are tennis clubs in many locations. You might want to join one if you
are pretty serious about playing a lot of tennis. They usually aren`t cheap though and don`t make sense unless you will play at least once a week or more.

There are different tennis circles (informal clubs) listed in the club book at
Odawara City Hall and the city halls of the other nearby cities and townships.
You go to city hall and ask to look at the book of circles. You can ask in

"Sakuru no risto hoshin desu kedo."

I did that to find soccer circles. There are many tennis circles that play every weekend and some that play on weekdays as well. Once you find one, you are swinging.
That is the way things work in Japan, you really need to network here, put the word out and get involved, and then be sure to show up.

There are a lot of tournaments here as well especially in the fall. You can find out about them at the various tennis clubs or perhaps at the city halls. There is an
active Odawara Tennis League, perhaps one of the companies you work for has a team.
Maybe you can join it! Again put the word out.

Good luck!

Kevin Burns

Labels: , ,

Apparel and Accessories at National Geographic