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.