Little Town of Loveliness
Trip Start Sep 18, 2009
12Trip End Sep 27, 2009
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Where I stayed
I've written about purikura here, so you know what it is: short for the Japanisation of "print club", it's a photo-booth that allows you to customise your pictures before they're printed out on sticker paper. There was a purikura booth beside the lockers at Okayama station, and I had the brilliant idea that doing a purikura session in each town we stayed in would be a great souvenir. Also, we could use the extras (because you get a sheet and can choose different layouts to get a few large pictures or lots of small ones) to decorate the postcards we'd be sending to friends and family.
So that's how a running theme of our trip wound up being the search for purikura
Anyway. We took the train -- local train, bringing us to Modes of Transportation Used: 2 -- and were soon in our next port of call.
Kurashiki isn't very big, but it's got a well preserved old quarter with lovely old wooden houses, and a gorgeous canal lined with weeping willows. Wandering along the old streets, which have much in common with the old parts of Kyoto, without the hordes of tourists (there are plenty of tourists, yes, but they're mostly Japanese), I couldn't help but think that it was almost too perfectly lovely, that an evening so warm and pleasant in so beautiful a place was a fantasy come to life.
As the sun went down, we turned in earnest to the task of finding sustenance, and ended up slipping into a restaurant just before they shut the doors, which meant we were the last ones in there by the time our meal was done
After dinner, we strolled about some more, until Emily decided she wanted an apple. Emily has a fruit addiction, you see, but it tends to strike at odd times. It was nearly 9:00, and we thought our best bet would be to go to the main station, only a few blocks from our hotel, as there might possibly be some sort of grocery store still open for business.
Our search for apples yielded no results, at least not of the fruity kind, but we did come across a most unexpected sight. On the opposite side of the station from our hotel, there is a large square with a clock tower, around which four pillars stand. On the top of each pillar stands the statue of a Norse warrior.
You can imagine our puzzlement, I'm sure! What on earth...? WHY?
Wanting to investigate further, we walked partway around the square, and found a statue of Hans Christian Andersen. That explains the northern European connection, I guess... or not. We thought it hilarious, and tried to come up with some sort of explanation, but couldn't think up a good one
[Upon our return to Tokyo, Emily did some research and found out that there used to be an Andersen theme park in Kurashiki. Which explains it. Sort of. I guess.]
The next morning, we had just enough time before leaving for Hiroshima to go back to the old quarter for a few more pictures. One temple I'd wanted to see had already been closed when we'd walked by it the previous evening, and the morning light was clear and beautiful.
The temple turned out to be well worth the climb, and "one of the most pleasant temples I've been to in this country," as I wrote in my journal at the time. The tiled roofs were decorated with fierce demon faces, which I found rather unusual, and the weathered wooden beams, draped with cobwebs, looked warm and smooth in the morning sun.