From Mie Guidebook
Ōdai (大台町 : Ōdai-chō) is a rural town in central Mie.
Until January 2006, the western-most portion of the town was a separate municipality known as Miyagawa (宮川村 Miyagawa-mura). The former Ōdai-chō was renowned for its green tea and shiitake mushrooms, and for also being the largest town (chō) in terms of land mass in all of Japan. The river that runs through Miyagawa-mura was once the cleanest river in Japan, until 2004, when a series of typhoons and storms triggered landslides which caused the deaths of 6 people and much damage to the surrounding ecosystem.
Since the merger, the town has a population of approximately 11,000. The bulk reside in the old Ōdai-chō part of town, as all of the old Miyagawa-mura is classified as either part of the Yoshino-Kumano National Park, or the Oku-Ise Miyagawa Valley Prefectural Park.
There are three ALTs in Ōdai, and all three live within 100m of each other in old Miyagawa-mura
- 1 CIR (responsible for elementary teaching)
- 1 Municipal ALT (responsible for junior high teaching)
- 1 Prefectural ALT (responsible for high school teaching)
- Misedani Elementary School (三瀬谷小学校)
- Kawazoe Elementary School (川添小学校)
- Nisshin Elementary School (日進小学校)
- Miyagawa Elementary School (宮川小学校)
- Junior High
- Ōdai Junior High School (大台中学校)
- Kyōwa Junior High School (協和中学校)
- Miyagawa Junior High School (宮川中学校)
- Senior High
- Subaru High School (昴学園高校)
- Miyagawa High School (宮川高校)
Due to its size, distance away from urban centres and poor public transportation, it is highly recommended to drive to/from/in Odai. There is a bus service run within the town, but it is highly impractical thanks to its infrequency and high cost. It’s probably best to get around town on bicycle / motorbike or by car.
Much of the town of Odai is built around two arterial roads. The national route 42, which starts in Matsusaka and heads all the way south to Wakayama, and the prefectural route 31, which leads west into the mountains and is where the old-Miyagawa village is situated. If travelling along route 42, it takes approximately 1 hour (depending on traffic and the time of day) to reach Matsusaka, and about 1 hour 45 minutes to arrive in Tsu.
In 2006, the first stage of the Kisei Expressway was opened, linking Odai to the main expressway and making access to the North much easier. Using this expressway, travelling times have been shortened dramatically. It’s now possible to get to Tsu in 40 minutes, and Nagoya in 1 hour 20 minutes. However, as with all expressways in Japan, it can be incredibly pricey. For example, a trip from Odai to Tsu will set you back 1350 yen in a normal car, or 1100 yen in a kei car (one-way).
The main station in Ōdai is Misedani (三瀬谷) Station, it is a limited express stop on the Kisei Main Line. Even though it is a main stop, service along the line is infrequent and local trains are quite slow.
It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to Nagoya on a limited express JR train, and will set you back ¥4280 one way. It’s possible to take regular trains up and do the same trip for about half the price. However if you do that, you’ll need to change trains at least once, and the wait times will usually make the trip closer to 2.5 hours.
There is a bus service from Matsusaka Station to Odai, which costs 1050 yen one way. Buses leave approximately once every 2 hours schedule (Japanese)
For anyone wanting to travel cheap to Tokyo, there’s also a nightbus operated by Sanco/Seibu that departs from in front of the Town Office at 10:50pm, and arrives into Ikebukuro at 6:25am the next morning. This costs ¥7520 one way, or ¥15050 round-trip, and can be booked online or over the phone. More info (Japanese)
- Odai Town Office (大台町役場 ōdai chō yakuba)
- The aircraft hangar-like building with the curved roof in the centre of town (on route 42), this is where any official residents paperwork will need to be submitted (including your Alien Registration forms), and you’ll be able to do things like register your inkan (seal), find out about the garbage collection schedule in your area, request a copy of your certificate of residence, etc. The Board of Education is located on the 2nd floor, and is also where the CIR resides (when he/she isn’t at a school).
- Post Offices (郵便局 yūbin kyoku)
- There are two main post offices in the region, Odai (which is about a 5 minute walk from the town hall) and Ogiwara (opposite the old Miyagawa-mura village office). Though the Odai post office offers a bigger range of services, any packages sent by post to the JET residences will be held at the Ogiwara post office. There are ATMs at both post offices, where you will able to withdraw money from any Cirrus, PLUS, Maestro or Visa Electron network card (eg. practically any VISA, Mastercard, Diners Club or Amex credit card). Both post offices are only open from 9:00am ~ 5:00pm on weekdays, although the Odai post office has a special service window that will allow you to post items from 8:00am ~ 5:30pm on weekdays, 8:00am ~ 5:00pm on Saturdays, and 9:00am ~ 12:30pm on Sundays and public holidays.
- Banks / ATMs
- There is a 105 Bank branch (complete with ATMs) near Misedani Station, and a Mie Shinyou Kinko branch on route 42, next to Max Valu. There are also 105 Bank and Japan Post ATMs next to the Michi-no-eki on Route 42. The 105 ATMs are open from 7:00am ~ 9:00pm, 365 days a year. The Japan Post ATMs are open from 9:00am ~ 6:00pm on weekdays, 9:00am ~ 5:00pm on Saturdays and 9:00 ~ 2:00pm on Sundays and public holidays (except at the Odai post office, where it is closed on Sundays).
- Medical care
- There are two main hospitals in town, first is the ŌOdai Welfare Hospital (大台厚生病院 Ōdai Kōsei Byōin), located about three minutes down Route 42 from the Town Office. Second is Houtoku Hospital (報徳病院 Hōtoku Byōin), which can be found on Route 31 in Ema (near the centre of the old Miyagawa village). The most popular general clinic is Koyama Clinic, located near the 105 bank branch in central Odai. The doctors at all 3 places know enough English to perform a check-up or make any simple diagnosis.
- Both Docomo and Softbank have a shop in town
- Library (図書館 toshokan)
- The Ōdai Library is located near the Ōdai Post Office, just off Route 42, and contains a healthy selection of children / adult books (in Japanese only), as well as PCs with internet access for any research work you might need to do. There is also a library room in the Ōdai Living Improvement Center (大台生活改善センター Ōdai Seikatsu Kaizen Sentā) on Route 31 in central Miyagawa (again, only contains Japanese books).
- Laundromat (Coin Laundry コインランドリー)
- You can find a coin operated laundromat on Route 42 opposite Max Valu. They have large futon-fitting dryers that operate for 100 yen per 15 minutes. There is also a dry cleaner’s located next door to Max Valu.
- Police Station (警察署 keisatsu-sho)
- Though there are smaller one man police boxes located throughout the town, the main police station for the entire Taki-gun region happens to be located on the intersection of route 31 and 42 in Odai. Consequently, there seems to be an increased number of speed / stop sign traps, random breath tests and general police presence in town (when compared to the rest of the prefecture), so please be careful! Also, this is where you’ll pay any parking/other traffic fines that you’ve incurred in Mie.
- Komeri - Open 9:00am ~ 8:00pm
- The Odai branch of this general home hardware chain store that also sells basic furniture, electrical goods, parts and appliances, outdoor gear (for camping / gardening), and other miscellaneous items. Can be found opposite the town hall on Route 42.
- Video / CD Rental shop
Food and Drink
Supermarkets and Kombini
- Max Valu - Open 9:00 ~ midnight, 7 days a week
- The Ōdai branch of the nationwide supermarket chain can be found in central Odai, right next to the Town Office. Whilst not quite as big as the Max Valu stores in Matsusaka or Tsu (so you mightn’t find things like bagels on the shelves), it still carries a large enough range of food (both Japanese and foreign) and other products that you could possibly require for your daily needs.
- Michi-no-eki Ōdai (道の駅 大台) - Open 8:00 ~ 7:00pm
- Located next to the Town Office, this roadstop also acts as a stall for local farmers to sell their produce. Much cheaper and fresher than the stuff you can buy at the Max Valu next door, though the vegetables and fruits are only sold seasonally (so might not the best place to look if you’re in a rush). Also a great place to stock up on Odai green tea (year round).
- Miyagawa Bakery
- Convenience Stores (kombini)
- There are a few in Odai (2 Circle K’s, a Family Mart, a Daily Yamazaki, an an ENEOS Convenience store), and almost all of them can be found along Route 42.
- Forestopia Restaurant, Anju (アンジュ)
- French-style cuisine. During certain times of the year (autumn/winter), has a great value buffet lunch available. Predominantly utilizes local ingredients where possible. Meals will usually set you back somewhere in the region of ¥1000~¥2000.
- Ichi-fuji (一富士)
- Ramen shop next to 105 bank.
- Daikokuya (大黒屋)
- Japanese restaurant next to 105 bank
- Ajihei (あじへい)
- Ramen and other (Japanized) Chinese food. In the Kawazoe area along Route 42.
- Michi-no-eki Ōdai (道の駅 大台)
- Roadstop-style foods. Great for a quick lunch.
Recreation and Entertainment
- Oku-Ise Forestopia
- A mountain resort complex located within the old Miyagawa village. Complete with hotel rooms and cottages to house guests; it also has an excellent indoor and outdoor onsen (hot springs) which is reguarly ¥600 but only ¥400 for town residents and their guests. The complex also has tennis courts, a BBQ area, and a river area for cooling off on hot days. The restaurant “Anju” is here as well.
- Great river swimming in Osugidani. You can also swim at the 25m pool in Miyagawa Elementary School during the summer holidays.
- Community Center classes
- Full list of courses can be found at the BOE.
Garbage in Odai is sorted according to the rules that govern the entire Oku-Ise area. All trash must be placed accordingly in the specific garbage bags (that can be bought at Max Valu or Komeri). If you forget to take the trash out of any plastic bags before putting them into the green bags, they may reject it!
Here’s a basic breakdown of the different categories:
- Burnable (燃えるゴミ moeru gomi) - Purple bags, collected every Monday and Thursday (usually around 10~11am)
- All food waste, paper, non-recyclable plastics, clothing, wood
- Non-Burnable (燃えないゴミ moenai gomi) - Green bags, collected on rotating Wednesday mornings
- Metal, glass, pottery (note: any sharp objects are to be wrapped in paper)
- PET Bottles - Green bags, collected on rotating Wednesday mornings
- Any recyclable plastics with the triangle PET logo on it. Separate the lids from any PET bottles into burnable trash, or your trash may not be collected.
- Glass bottles - Green bags, collected on rotating Wednesday mornings
- Any unbroken glass bottles. Glass bottles that contained perfume or medicine, and/or broken bottles must be wrapped in paper and put out with the non-burnable trash.
- Cans - Green bags, collected on rotating Wednesday mornings
- Both aluminum and steel cans. If it's an aerosol cans, make sure to punch a hole in the bottom of the can first and let the gas out before submitting it for collection. Any detached lids of cans must be separated into non-burnable trash.
- Hazardous (危険物 kiken butsu) - Irregular collection
- Light bulbs, fluorescent lights, batteries, thermometers (note: sort each item in a separate bag)
- Oversized (粗大ゴミ sodai gomi) - Must be dropped off at a special area (two minutes from JET residence), once a month on a designated day (usually a weekend)
- Large furniture, electrical goods that won’t fit into the designated trash bags, large rugs, carpets, futons
Note: Collection times are for Kamimate, where the JET residences are located. You can get a copy of the collection schedule from the Consumer and Environmental protection division at the Town Office.
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