I am obsessed with all of the awesome regional manhole covers in Japan. FYI
Photos: Kurashiki; Kurashiki City; Takamatsu; Takamatsu
We packed up our bags at Kyoko’s place and left everything home while we walked a few blocks down to Ritsurinkoen. This was one of Japan’s great gardens and we had heard that it was worth the trip. We did the 60 minute walking tour through the south end of the garden then hit the shop for another gelato treat. By 11:00 am it was already oppressive heat and humidity. We left through the north gate which ended up being the highlight… Their huge pond of Lotus (taller than me!) were in bloom and totally gorgeous.
We picked up our packs and headed to the bus stop. Kyoko’s apartment was a great place to crash for this first part of our trip and we will miss Takamatsu.
We caught the 12:40 train to Okayama and decided we would again treat the city as our lunch spot. Thanks to a blog post about food in the city we hit up a ramen shop that specialized in local ingredients (even their own Hishio -unfiltered soy sauce boiled with olives). We both had the Tonosho ramen and for the benefit of my New York friends… Ippudo needs to step aside. This thin broth was light, with a distinctive flavor (thanks to the local sardines they use), the pork was absolutely delicious… It just melted in your mouth. And they shave thin strips of Yuzu into the soup which is a stunning refreshing moment in the salty broth. I would not hesitate to go back. The best part? Dan was still hungry so he ordered the Kaemeshi bowl which was a generous bowl of rice with pulled pork, seaweed and scallions for only 100¥ ($1.00)… To pour the end of his broth in!!!
Off on the tram after lunch for another famous garden… Okayama’s own Korakuen. We had left our packs in coin lockers at the station so we could get around easily. Our garden walk was spectacular because it started to rain and their vast green fields, forests and terraces were beautiful in the rain. This rain, by the way, did not have any effect on the weather except to make it even hotter and more humid when the sun returned! Ritsurinkoen was lovely but Korakuen was truly worth the detour. They have a pen of cranes on the premises as well.. incredibly elegant birds.
We took the bus back to Okayama station, got our reservations for Sunday’s Shinkansen trip worked out and boarded the train for Hiroshima. We were due to meet up with Tanaka-san for his apartment that evening and still needed to eat. Tanaka-san’s flat is his grandmother’s place and it is a traditional Japanese apartment: tatami rooms with separate and partially outdoor shower and toilet. Such a cute place and in a neighborhood off the beaten path. We cleaned up and headed out to a sushi place he recommended just down the street… Much to our surprise and entertainment it was a conveyor belt sushi palace (we have heard about these but had never been). The place was enormous and we had counter seats. I was really impressed with Dan because he seemed to have the entire system worked out for keeping track of what we picked off the belt… That is, until they said last call. I then asked the waiter to calculate our bill (which Dan had been painstakingly writing up as the food went flying by) until Dan realized that the waiter thought we meant we wanted all 12 of those dishes and had specially asked the sushi chef to sneak in our “order”! BTW we were already full so if he had not caught that we would have been stuck with dinner number 2!!! I wish I had the entire episode on video, it was hilarious and our neighbors at the counter got a real show…. We were the only non-Japanese in the place and clearly didn’t know what we were doing. I did get a few videos on Vine if you want to follow us.
Photos: Lotus at Korakuen, Tonosho ramen at Shodoshima Hishio, sushi conveyor belt at Onmaku
Breakfast at home
Leave Kyoko’s apartment
Train to Okayama, coin lockers for bags
Tram and walk to Korakuen, thunderstorm
Bus to Okayama Eki, shinkansen reservations for Sunday 8/11
Train to Hiroshima
Streetcar to Tanaka-san’s apartment
Sushi restaurant with conveyor belt
Pictures: what’s in bloom, Ritsurin-koen; Elaine with lotus, Ritsurin-koen; view from Yuishinzan Hill, Korakuen; paths and streams at Korakuen
Breakfast at home
Bus to Takamatsu station
Express train to Kotohira
Eyeglass shop to “repair” Elaine’s sunglasses
Kompira-san temple climb (dedicated to the guardian of mariners)
Kompira Udon, lunch
Kanamaru-za (oldest kabuki theater in Japan)
Train to Marugame
Uchiwa-no-minato (paper fan) museum
Wrong train to Okayama!
“Marine Liner” train to Takamatsu
Dinner at Mikayla (Italian)
Pictures: “Eye exam,” Kotohira; Ice blocks and salt-lemon candies, Kompira-san; Inner temple and view, Kompira-san; Elaine (wearing kabuki jacket) and Kanamaru-za tour guide
Ferry to Megijima
Bus to caves
Caves: kitschy “ogres;” Snail Trail animations; Oninoko tile project–nice and cool inside
Short hike to observation platform, great views over the Inland Sea.
Bus back to town
Equipiose mirrored storehouse; Leandro Erlich’s “The presence of absence”
Lunch at IARA: seafood (pasta for me, paella for Elaine)
MECON in school building
Return ferry to Takamatsu
Ferry to Shodoshima Tonosho
Ferry to Teshima Karasho
Walk to Teshima Art museum, but didn’t go in
Janet Cardiff, Storm House
Shima Kitchen: Taste the Buddhism (sandalwood ice cream in lotus flower shape), coffee, nice terrace
Bus to port
No one wins multibasket; Fukushima quick architecture exhibit, walk to Boltanski Archives du Cœur (closed)
Return ferry to Tonosho and Takamatsu
Izakaya (“Okagesamade”?)–great tamago agedashi, shishamo, age dori, tsukemono
Pictures: descent from Megijima observation deck; MECON courtyard overhang; Taste the Buddhism; Fukushima quick architecture demonstration
On Sunday morning I finally felt normal and clear headed. The walk to the ferry terminal was oppressive… It was overcast but the heat and humidity had us soaked with sweat by the time we got in line for tickets. That was when the trouble started. We had not done enough research about island hopping by ferry on the weekend and the lines were crazy… AND we of course didn’t understand the ticket/reservation system. So, we mistakenly got tickets for the 9:15 slow ferry, ran back and got tickets for the 9:07 high speed… Which we then could not get on because it was overbooked. Many concerned Japanese attendants worried about the stupid Americans, lots of sweat and an hour delay and we finally got on the 10:40am high speed to Naoshima. All was not lost. Buses around Naoshima between the ports and art sites were really easy and efficient. Honmura was a really cute little port town and the Turrell at Minamidera was life altering. The lunch we had at Oomiyake (the owner spent time in Morocco so the curry had a spicy Moroccan twist) was とてもおいしいです！(look to Dan’s post for photos of my curry and his hamburger mustard rice)
The Chichu Museum was expensive but totally worth it and the entire day was sunny and beautiful. We gained our lost hour back from two very kind Japanese people who were leaving and gave us their un-used timed ticket at Chichu. We caught the last ferry back to Takamatsu at 19:25 but not before picking up some Naoshima dried fish and getting a beer and a bowl of udon.
On the way home we stopped at the supermarket near our apartment for supplies and decided to splurge on two peaches ¥530 (about $6.00). They are huge and they are the specialty of this region (and in season)… Literally like candy they were so sweet and juicy.
Photos: Lunch at Oomiyake, the welcome Setouchi band
Breakfast at home
Ferry to Naoshima (after missing the first)
Welcome by Journey of Entertainment: islands and music band
Lunch at Ōmiyake
Minamidera (James Turrell/Tadao Ando)
Art house projects: Go’o shrine; Kadoya/Sea of Time; Gokaisho
Bus/shuttle to Chichu Art Museum (Turrell, Monet the highlights)
Shuttle to Benesse House Museum
Bus to Miyanoura port
Night ferry to Takamatsu
Taxi to supermarket
Photos: Araki train; at Minamidera; Naoshima bath; mustard hamburger rice lunch