Wish We Could Have Stayed Longer!
We're again woefully behind in our blogging. Now in Tokyo--coming home on Saturday. Hope to catch up before we leave.
No, we'd never heard of Kurashiki before we started planning this trip. It was in our guidebook and sounded interesting, so we decided to go. It's a friendly city of slightly less than 500,000 people in Okayama Prefecture, just a 17 minute local train ride away from the big city, Okayama. Kurashiki's claim to fame (besides their white peaches and muscat grapes, which I would give an arm and a leg to try, but alas, we weren't there during the right season) is its historical district right in the heart of downtown, along a canal. Rather than tear it down after the war, the City encouraged businesses to move in, and now it's a thriving part of the municipal economy. Tourists, especially Japanese tourists, flock here seemingly every weekend.
Here's Dick's photographic masterpiece, taken as the sun was going down. He didn't realize until afterward that there was a gray heron in the photo!
The City Art Museum at night.
Traveling boys' baseball team. When their coach saw Dick's Mariners hat, he knew right away we were from Seattle!
Senbei (rice cracker) shop. We bought a big one while it was still warm.
Achi Shrine, on a hill above the historical district, was a charming complex of temples.
Must have been an auspicious day for weddings, because they were shuttling different wedding parties in and out of the shrine as fast as they could.
[Meanwhile, this young man was sitting along the canal, intent on his work. People kept coming up to peer over his shoulder to see what he was doing. img=http://photos.travellerspoint.com/526039/DSCN2543.jpg]
Cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom.
We spent a day in Okayama at Korakuen Park and Okayama Castle. The castle, alas, was bombed to smithereens except for one corner during the war, so most of it is a 1960's era replica. But a pretty striking replica nonetheless.
Finally, pretty women in kimono in public places are fair game for anyone to photograph. They all display amazing poise and patience as total strangers snap their photos. While we were at Korakuen, we heard two European women yelp as they did an abrupt 180 degree turn and raced down the garden path so that they could get in front of these ladies to take their photos. Everyone was in good humor about it!