Okayama #2 – Kurashiki

Kurashiki is only 15mn train away from Okayama, it is the Little Kyoto on canals with the famous ivy square, it is also know to be the place for Momotaro denim and handycraft

Beautiful village, you have to walk about 15mn from the train station to find the historical area and the shops but it is very well signposted.

Even the Telegraph wrote on how slower the pace is there, it is quiet, peaceful, relaxing, very nice day out, we spent half day and it was enough but we enjoyed very much the place

 

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Okayama #1

Okayama is a city located 30mn away from Kobe and 45mn from Osaka to the south. It is said to be the city of eternal spring, beautiful weather at all time.

After spending a week end there, I can say it is a quiet place worth 2 days and 1 night. We stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza and loved it, very friendly team, very good breakfast, the hotel is directly connected to the station so very convenient.

What I liked about the city

  • Okayama castle, just another castle to me, but this one is all black and very elegant
  • Korakuen which is one of the 3 most beautiful gardens of Japan, it is smaller than the one in Kanazawa but also worth a visit, it took me 2 hours to explore, it is very peaceful, I got to see the tea plantation, but also red head cranes, beautiful and there were prayers in the temple which I loved, it added to the peace
  • Food is good although nothing really special outside of the yellow chives and of course the peach/momo (with the story of Momotaro)
  • People are friendly, easy going, you feel no stress
  • One thing that surprised me and I did not know is that the region produces blue jeans, called Momotaro Jeans, and you can see them everywhere, did you know?

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Tea Ceremony

This will remain as one of the highlights of my 2018 stay in Japan. A friend invited to join a tea ceremony class in April.

I was blown away by the level of quality, precision and meditation in there. We spent a couple of hours and every minute was inspiring, full of information. I was told this is one of the Zen pillars and I wish I would have time to continue the journey and take this class on a regular basis.

 

from the way you present the matcha in its box, to the  type of bowl you will use depending on the season, the way you open the door, close it, listen to the sound of water, respect the kakemono, walk across the room, everything is thought. loved it, absolutely loved it

Happo-en Tokyo

On a Saturday lunch time, I went out to picnic in the Shirokanedai area, in the Tokyo University park. Across the road, I discovered the wonderful Happo-en.

This is a place that gives you serenity, calm, peace in the heart of the city, suddenly, you forget about the noise, the cars, and the daily life.

The park has a collection of bonsai, a banqueting space and a tea ceremony house that you may book although I have heard they dont always reply

 

Luxury Train

Japan has the Shinkansen but it also has the Mizukase Luxury Train and the seven stars cruise train in Kyushu.

While in Osaka, we saw it coming to the station and it was amazing, this train is heavily booked and the company currently takes reservations applications in May for travel as of October 2018!

Apply to the Twilight Express experience!

 

 

Before Cherry Blossom

In the weeks leading to sakura week, the plum trees start blooming, the weather changes, it is still chilly but the light is brighter and the sky blue, it is a wonderful and exciting couple of weeks and everyone is waiting for cherry blossom

 

 

This year, during that period, we also had the Tokyo Marathon, so well organised, spotless, lines of water bottles waiting, volunteers along the 43km, really impressive and a nice and friendly atmosphere. If you are in Tokyo at that time, have a look, it is very peaceful and friendly, I recommend it

Cherry Blossom

in 2018, Cherry blossom came to Tokyo one week ahead of normal. it all started on March 25th, the week end was a peak in visitors to parks

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People deploy blankets and drink sake, picnic under the trees to enjoy the moment. it is a celebration of spring, the nice weather back

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We were very lucky as it did not rain since the blossom came out, so Tokyo people enjoyed 2 full week ends of joy.

Everywhere, you can see cherry trees of all sorts and I wandered in Shiba park, Imperial park where a specific section opens to public from 10h00 to 15h30 only during this period. Everywhere was absolutely packed. I gave up the idea of going to Ueno as the perspective of the crowd put me off. I also went to Hanzomon to enjoy the trees at the back of the imperial park.

I accidentally found a great place in Midtown Roppongi where the night lights were just beautiful.

Midweek, I dared going to Nakameguro and watch the riverside, this is a chore, totally overwhelmed by people, a lot of “chiringuitos” selling sparkling wine with strawberry or cherry sake all along, it is very beautiful but you need to be patient, and walk at (slow) pace with the crowd

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