ODAWARA - A Vegan Guide to the city of Plums and Castle
Every year, the plum flower season brings crowds to the otherwise-quiet streets of Odawara. Known for it's adorable little castle, and local specialties of "kamaboko" (fish cake) and "umeboshi" sour plums, the city's plum fields turn into a pink wonderland and the beginning of the year. Whereas the regular events and picknicks are canceled this year due to COVID, this doesn't stop visitors from coming over to enjoy the view.
There are a number of surprising Vegan options in Odawara, which I would love to share with you! Odawara has a Shinkansen station, and is also the transfer point from e.g. Tokyo to Hakone. Therefore, there are many travelers passing by, that would benefit from a shop or cafe near the station. And Odawara has plenty to offer!
Bleu Coffee Bar & Cafe
Starting with my personal favorite find near Odawara station: Blue Coffee Bar & Cafe. A drip coffee bar with VEGAN sweets. The owner's wife is an excellent baker, who knows exactly how turn natural, organic ingredients into flavorful, fluffy muffins and cakes. The shop is often sold out in the afternoon - and the sweets are definitely enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. The modern shop had great coffee, beans for sale, and fantastic movies. At night, it turns into a bar, with fancy alcoholic drinks and (unfortunately not vegan) snacks. They usually post their vegan sweets of the day on Instagram, so be sure to keep an eye out! (Note - they stock limited quantities and may sell out early!)
One of the first places I dined at in Odawara is Lacco Ameno. THE place to be for amazing Neapolitan pizza and other Italian food. The chef has trained in Italy, and has passed every test of my, very critic, Italian friends, as well as holding a 4.3* average on Google reviews. After visiting several times, the owner knows about veganism and has created pizza's and pasta's for me, as well as pointed out vegan-friendly specials. I think there now also is a "vegetarian options available" sign in English on the door! For my next visit, I might ask him to use self-brought vegan cheese....
Okanishi Wagashi Tea Shop
It doesn't get more local than this! This gem of a shop opened its doors in 1947 and is still going strong! The small, cute cafe has a mouthwatering menu with kakigori and wagashi tea-and-sweets sets, but I haven't been inside yet to confirm the vegan options. Why not? Because they sell their well-known, gigantic Ohagi sweets, mochi and anko sweet bean paste, from their take-out window - which is impossible to resists when passing by!
The three ohagi come in Anko, Kinako (soy bean flower) and black sesame and are great value (and volume!) at only￥250.
Shiro Machi Cafe
"A modern cafe with traditional sweets!". That is how Shiro machi introduces itself, offering local and seasonal ingredients from the Odawara area, and the perfect place to catch your breath after a walk in the "castle city". Many of the sweets are not vegan, but some are, and they have coffees, delicious looking teas, and souvenirs at the entrance.
You may know this tofu chain, and if you don't, you'll wish you did! Next to delicious, fresh tofu, natto and ￥100 bagged soy milk, they have a great assortment of vegan finds, including dried soy meat, tofu "butter", tofu "cream cheese", "tofu mozzarella", (inari) sushi and wagashi sweets. Make sure to read the labels carefully, as some products surprisingly do contain animals products. They also have an online shop.
The Salad Labo
A salad bar located in Lusca at the ground floor of the station. Part of the Mizunobu organization. They currently have one pretty good looking, clearly marked Vegan salad with lots of veggies and colors.
Transferring trains and absolutely no time? Run by the Hakone Bakery in front of the Shinkansen exit for a plain, or tomato ciabatta. They are on the small side,
but delicious when fresh.
This traditional umeboshi shop has been around since 1871 and sells a wide range of umeboshi and other Japanese pickles. Their shop has an "umeboshi museum" part, where you can see jars or umeboshi matured all the way back to their founding(!), taste umeboshi,
and see the huge traditional barrel used for pickling. Their umeboshi are expensive, but without any additives, and they may have some vegan friendly sweets.
Starbucks: located on the ground floor of the station, at the Shinkansen exit. It's not very big and usually full.
Doutor: One near the ticket gates up stairs, and one about a 2 minute walk from the station, towards Donki Hote.
Tully's: Right in front of the station
Kaldi: Basement level, in front of the station, as part of the "HaRuNe" shopping mall.
Seijo Ishi: Located in Lusca. Quite big, with plenty of snacks to find for your trip.
Biople by Cosme Kitchen: Right outside of the ticket gates, as the first shop in Lusca. Expensive, but really great vegan and eco friendly finds.
Minaka is a newly opened shopping center, right in front of the station, with some interesting shop and great Vegan finds. From matcha lattes, wagashi sweets and a free foot spa on the roof top, you should find plenty of spots to enjoy!
>> CLICK HERE for my recent blog on Minaka.
Overall Vegan options
Traveling with a non-veggie group, going to an organized event, have a business meeting? There will be plenty of options where you will at least be able to survive the night - I'd know.
From Indian restaurants, a sports bar, luxury yakitori restaurants with veggie sticks, and your typical grilled onigiri-edamame izakaya menu, chances are, they will have ran into a vegan at least once before!
Bleu Coffee Bar & Cafe ブリューコーヒー スタンド&バー
Address: 〒2500011, Sakaecho 2-12-46, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa
Access: About 4-5 minutes from the station. Use Google maps, cause you'll have to make a couple of turns! (hint: you pass lacco ameno on the way!)
Food: Cold-brew, drip coffee and amazing vegan sweets
Price:￥400-500 for vegan sweets
Service: Very kind and relaxed atmosphere. You'll want to hang around and make great Instagram photo's! Sweets are 100% marked vegan and milk alternatives are available.
Location: Close and easy to find once you've found it once! A bit away from the buzz in front of the station, which may or may not be what you're looking for.
Address: 〒250-0011 Sakaecho 2-11-30, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa
Access: 3-4 min walk from Odawara station
Food: Authentic Italian with vegan pizza or pasta on request, and if you're lucky, a side dish!
Price:￥1000~ They have great deals for pizza's during lunchtime!
Service: Very polite and accommodating. Fantastic place for a date!
Location: Close to the station, a quiet street so that you can dine "outside" during summer.
Okanishi Wagashi Tea Shop
Address: 〒250-0011 3-chome-10-19 Sakaecho, Odawara, Kanagawa
Access: 3 minutes from Odawara station
Food: Ohagi! and other traditional wagashi sweets. Seat-in or take-out.
Price: About ￥250 per huge Ohagi
Service: Very polite. Haven't been inside yet.
Location: Located at the exists of Donki Hote- so you can satisfy your sweet tooth after having searched for Vegan finds!
Shiro Machi Cafe
Address: 〒250-0011 1-14-41 Sakaecho, Odawara, Kanagawa
Access: 6 minutes from Odawara station
Food: Wagashi, coffee and (green) teas
Price: A bit fancy. I don't remember what the dango cost, but the cafe is definitely targeted at "fancy girls lunch".
Service: Polite. More of a "city cafe" experience than the other places.
Location: Located near one of the exists of the castle.
let me know if you plan to visit Odawara!