With a weekend to ‘kill’ (what a luxury – even when you have a whole year away!), we visited the charming town of Kurashiki, which is sometimes referred to as ‘Little Kyoto’, and rarely makes it onto the itinerary of the 20-week tourist.
Traveling by Shinkansen ‘bullet train;’ it took us about 12 minutes to cover the 20km to Kurashiki from Okayama where we staying overnight. While it would be hard to describe myself as any kind of locomotive freak, these trains really are something else. As their streamlined ‘noses’ glide into stations they remind me of geese in flight, and you barely feel the acceleration as they power out and off at up to 320km/h.
Kurashiki’s streets were narrow, mostly pedestrian, and sandwiched between a mix of traditional Japanese buildings and pockets of more modern architecture.
The town centres around a short decorative canal….
….with pedestrian walks either side offering browsing fun.
We popped into a Chinese medicine shop to muse over the crazy roots, herbs and pickled animal parts therein.
It comes into its own during Sakura (blossom season)….
…. and we admired this beautiful woman posing for a seasonal photoshoot in her stunning kimono.
In case it should occur to James and me to visit a temple, shrine or museum during the afternoon, the girls quickly diverted us into this Mame Shiba cafe. These dogs are miniature versions of the national Shiba breed and are playful little pooches.
So we had to do it at least once while in Japan. Oh yes! The Karoake booth had our name on it that night. After negotiating an entry price that didn’t include all-you-can-drink beer and paintstripper whiskey for the girls (bring it on for the adults!), we locked ourself into our soundproof box (with double painstrippers to get us started), and tried to get over the stench of stale cigarettes. As soon as James had managed to use the camera translation function on his phone to convert the instructions on the console to English we were away! I’ll save you from any video footage, but suffice to say we lost our inhibitions sufficiently to do the event justice, and suffered the effects of the Suntory binge the day after (rendering the experience was even more unforgettable!).