ONE HEART, ONE SPIRIT, TO INSPIRE
One thing I had known about Okayama was The Okayama University. I knew it from the Monbukagakusho University Guidance Manual Book while I was searching for scholarship. Don’t know why, but at that time, I thought to spell Okayama was easy and interesting for me. It was just a non academic reason,wasn’t it? Silly me…hehehe. No wonder, once I got the confirmation that I would be one of the participants of Okayama Survey Tour, I was so excited. I was looking forward to enjoying the days and finding out what I would see in the City.
Hm..Mm…What do you think? Is my reason about my first impression of Okayama city strong enough to bring me up there? I am saying this because my Japanese friends told me that they didn’t even know whether any best place for doing sightseeing or maybe short traveling in the city I talked about.. Whoaaa….
However, that’s it! That is the good point of view, isn’t? Well, at least, I had to take my survey seriously. Hihi…After the first meeting with the staff and other participants for many countries (except Japaneses of course ^.^) ,on the purpose of preparing the Journey and getting some stuff about the Tour, I did the inquiry.
Anyway, I did this activity based on the instruction from the staff who asked us to do some inquiries about Okayama Tourist Information. So, I browsed the internet, tried to find out about some of tour destinations and gave report about everything I found. I have to confess that I didn’t have any idea and I finally couldn’t expect too much for getting more interesting experience at the place I had adored before. I thought, at this time, I finally agreed with my Japanese friend’s opinion.
Few days remaining ran so fast. The Okayama Survey Tour was started. It needed 1.5 hour by bus from Higashi Hiroshima to Okayama. We arrived around 11.30. I give 2 thumbs up for the Touring Schedule. Are you curious to know why? Please Guess…No, don’t worry, just joking, here is my reason. I was so hungry, and I thought all the participants were getting hungry too. Thanks God the staff took all of the participants to have lunch together. In fact, we were having our lunch time at Japanese traditional style restaurant. Hooraay….
It is a small restaurant, but it is cozy. It has two floors, and for the visitor who wanted to eat at the 2nd floor, they had to take of their shoes. I chose to go upstairs. Although the room was small, it still could give space for more than 25 persons. And what’s next? Surely no doubt, Kurashiki sushi was coming. The scrumptious local specialty suddenly grabbed my attention. I always adore the way Japanese people decorate the sushi. Even for small pieces. So sophisticated! Next, to define the difference of Kurashiki style among others, just check the vegetables. I think it consists of seafood and seasonal vegetables gathered from the area. Ok, no more review. In processing of moving the dishes into my mouth,hehehe. Unluckily, why did I think that the portion was too small? L
Later, I realized that this area was half European – Japanese style. One good point I got from Okayama Tour. Canal is the main view. The key is just enjoy walking as pedestrian without getting afraid of hit by car or other vehicles. Don’t forget to visit all the spots. There’re more than 20 museums for us to hunt for. According with my experience, firstly, I visited Kurashiki Ivy Square. Then I moved to YurikoIgarashiArt Museum. Oh, by the way, Yuriko Igarashi is the name of the author of the popular manga, Candy Candy.
My friend and I also took a picture in front of MomotaroKarakuriHakubutsukanMuseum. Momotaro is the protagonist of one of Japanese best-known folk tales, is said to be based on someone actually active in the Okayama region. We didn’t get in because the museum was being closed. No problem, because we moved to Senichi Hoshino Museum and other places. Do you still remember my clue? Just enjoy walking as pedestrian, visiting from one museum to another.
In my opinion, this place is bit quiet or maybe because I didn’t come at peak season? I don’t know. But somehow, I were dreaming to have vacation with my best friend, visiting this area, enjoying walking around with slow rhythm, and sharing conversation at Japanese traditional restaurant without hectic schedule. Oh, I think I have to tell you that I found delicious omiyage at a shop near ArchaelogicalMuseum. Good price for the nuts.
The next destination is shopping mall. I can’t give lot of comments unless this is a shopping mall. That’s all. I only visited a kind of 100 yen shop and ABC MART, shoes shop. I did transactions there. Umbrella and a new red tracking shoes! hehehe.
I didn’t get bored because I was searching for those items. So I can imagine if people just drop by to the mall without any purpose, or let’s say, only for sightseeing, maybe it will be quiet boring.
We were leaving the shopping mall for checking in at the hotels. I found traffic at this main street. Just a short line, but it had reminded me with my lovely town, Jakarta. Yes, Jakarta is one of most crowded city in the world. I was supposed to criticize the traffic I found, wasn’t I? I adored it instead. Hahaha…
It was getting dark and I thought yes I should have regretted the traffic because we checked into the Kooraku Hotel so late. To have dinner, we had to walk around 5 minutes to Okayama Station. That was the theory; we took almost 30minutes of walking instead. We got lost…AARRR…… To reach the place, through reading map at night, under the rainfall, was truly difficult. We entered the building from the other side and went down to the basement, and guess! we got lost again….
Twice we got into the restaurants, and they refused us as after 9.PM is the time where they prepared to close. (I regretted why none of the staff told us about the rules before). But don’t worry, we were safe. Or maybe I should have said, “Fortunately”, there was a restaurant which could accept us to order menu. Yokatta….I couldn’t say more about the food, I was so hungry. So everything was delicious..hehehe. But this is my opinion,at least, they served us well. Especially me, Regarding to my capacity of not eating pork and drinking kind of alcoholic, they cooperated well.
We went out of the building perfectly, without getting lost at the basement, and even so, we got lost again. Hahaha..we took way too much, so we turned back little bit.
The Kooraku hotel, again, I couldn’t say more. Just about wifi, I didn’t use smartphone so I didn’t get connected the internet unless I went down to the first floor. I didn’t drink from the tap water,but that’s not problem. I brought my own drink.
On the next day, a friend of mine and I took breakfast at the restaurant. This buffet style gave me chance to choose my own dishes. I avoided meat just in case the 2 items I have talked about were put on.
Last destination on Sunday morning was InujimaIsland. But first, we stopped by to local shrine due to waiting for 11.00 PM boat departure. We took some pictures. Here, every year, in February, if I am not mistaken, there is a festival held at the shrine. That’s why I saw seats provided, similar with soccer stadium. So during the festival, people can see many attractions from the seat. I think the shrine will be looked more interesting at the festival time, livelier.
We just had less than 20 minutes to take pictures and see around the shrine. We needed to catch up the departure.
The port is smaller than another port I visited before. I found that the atmosphere around the area was so quiet. What happened? I worried about how the island was. I really hoped that I would get good experience of joining the A course. Have I told you that, on the last day, this tour had been divided into 2 groups? Group A, the InujimaIsland. Group B, the Okayama Castle-Korakuen Garden etc.
We were in the boat when I saw few local tourists. Which is mean, I assumed the reason of people going to the Inujima island. Hmm..mmm…maybe because the island was so quiet? As you know…some people like crowded area for tourist destination, some people doesn’t.
Then we arrived at InujimaIsland. The first spot grabbed my attention was a small dark wooden house. Behind the house, I could see large yard surrounded by fence. What should I say? Wind blew strongly and I feel freedom. The landscape I stood at was breathtaking. How could I say? I wondered at glance that the place had reminded me about the setting area of Lord of The Ring Movie; sea, large yard, wooden building, and lighthouse. Then we were walking to the gate of Inujima Art project, holding the ticket and waiting for the time of going inside the building. Still my friends and I took pictures, a lot.
At Inujima “Art House Project”, we were guided by Japanese lady. She spoke English clearly. This is one good point. Without the guidance, I wouldn’t have understood the art of the building. As we were surrounded by natural environment which had been preserved in the original state, we should obey many rules, including not taking picture inside. Ok, no worries.
Inujima was once the site of copper smelting, and industry which fostered modernization in Japan, and the smokestacks and slag bricks that were left over after operations ended are still part of the Island’s landscape. Now it becomes the museum called Inujima Art Project Seirensho. Just try to visit the area, trust me, you’ll get good experience as tourist. Oh, even for the lavatory, they made it artistically. I was the only member who tried it. I like it so much..
Having lunch at the house where I have told you about, the small dark wooden house. Raw fish style was the menu. Honestly, the interesting point of having lunch here is when we could see the nature landscape while eating. It was magnificent.
We ran out of time and headed back to the main Island. Arrived at the city around 2.PM, the B course team was still taking the journey. The staff asked us to pick them up at Okayama castle. Wow, bonus for us. Not only the InujimaIsland we went out, but also Okayama castle. A very good point we got. Thaaanks’
From now on, I have figure of what I will say to my friends about going to Okayama. First, Kurashiki is for you who like to walk around the historical place, chat a lot with your (best) friend at Japanese style restaurant. Just be careful with the kurashiki map, little bit confusing. Just follow the canal as the main spot. However, The Europe-Japanese style area is the compliment of your visiting.
Next, InujimaIsland is for you who like to spend the time in a quite island. I think it will be good if you come in a group. The entrance way to the port is bit different with usual port. You need to walk without many direction signs. At least, you can ask local people how to get the Island. That is why I suggest you to go with friends, otherwise you could get lost.
I couldn’t give any figure about the shopping mall because I don’t see any difference with other mall in Japan. Nevertheless, visiting the city plus having a walk at the shopping mall is needed ( girls opinion).
Anyway, I think KurakuenGarden or OkayakamaCastle is another nice spot too. However, I don’t have any figure about it. OK..have a nice trip!