I am obsessed with all of the awesome regional manhole covers in Japan. FYI
Photos: Kurashiki; Kurashiki City; Takamatsu; Takamatsu
We took the train Saturday from Hiroshima to Kurashiki by way of Okayama quite early. We had heard that Kurashiki was a beautiful, quiet and traditional town with a day’s worth of activities to enjoy. We arrived too early to check into the hotel (APA Hotel BTW is right at the JR Kurashiki station and very convenient) but we checked our big bags.
This town was a really nice change after all the crowds in Hiroshima and Miyajima. The historical district is beautifully preserved around the canal. We started with the Piggy Bank Museum which is just a really small room of glass cases on the top floor of an antiques shop. It was incredible how many they had and of all different varieties. This town was also an antique collector’s dream. (Mom, you would have loved the 101 Dalmations wallpaper!)
For lunch we got the special lunch sets at Mamakaritei. We were disappointed only because the guide book had led us to believe we would be getting a special “sardine” focus which was not entirely accurate and it was a rather expensive Kaiseki for lunch time on our budget.
After lunch we went to the old toy museum which was a wonderfully crowded crazy hodge podge of dolls, masks, daruma, kites and games from Japan for hundreds of years.
I was done museum hopping at that point and I had my eye on the shops in town. So Dan went off to the Ohara museum and I went shopping. Kurashiki is a great town to shop in both because of the antiques and also because many of the shops have traditional products hand crafted in the area so you get away from the proliferation of junk for sale. I bought a great waist belt pouch made of canvas from a Kurashiki design company and educated myself about all the differences in Bizen Pottery (a specialty of that region) so that we could get something nice when Dan was finished at the museum.
Along the way I stumbled into a small shop where an older lady was sitting quietly manning the store. She was really sweet and we tried our best to communicate. When Dan popped his head in she invited us to stay for iced tea and chat. She was 88 and in great health. Taking away… We did our best to participate!
After shopping we checked into the hotel and got settled researching dinner options. We heard that the regional Katsu (fried pork usually) had a great sauce so we headed out to Misokatsu Menoki. Dan got the seasonal set menu: pork and crab Katsu, rice, steamed chicken and vegetables, raw octopus in a mustard vinigrette, chicken sashimi with salad, miso soup with raw egg, tuna sashimi and a lemon jelly yogurt dessert. All that for 1800¥! I got just the pork katsu set which was delicious but Dan’s meal was delicious and one of the best values thus far.
Off to Zushi City tomorrow to finally see our friends!
Photos: steaming veggies at Misokatsu Menoki, pork Katsu set, piggy bank museum wallpaper, bird and fish toys at the Kurashiki toy museum
Breakfast at home
Leave Tanaka-san’s apartment, streetcar to Hiroshima station
HIKARI shinkansen 8:44 to Okayama
Local train to Kurashiki
Leave bags at hotel
Piggy bank museum/antique shop/dog museum (the RCA Victor dog, that is)
Lunch at Mamakari-tei
Rural toy museum
Ohara museum (Dan)/shopping (Elaine)
Chatting with 88 year old in ceramics shop
Shopping: fabric; Bizen ware
Hotel check in
Dinner at Misokatsu Umenoki
Pictures: something great on 9/12; Piggy bank museum; Masks at Rural toy museum; Elaine & ceramics lady; fresh-made oyster cracker