Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spring Vacation Part 1

I've had a bit of a blogger block lately. I feel like I have tons to write about, but for some reason I've had trouble getting started. I've been wanting to post about my vacation last month with Julian and Nirmal. The more I travel the more I learn about how to plan for trips - what works for me and what doesn't. Overall, we had a fantastic time!

While Nirmal was having fun in Tokyo, Julian and I headed for Kurashiki, which is about 1-1/2 hours southwest of Himeji. On the way we stopped at Imbe, which is famous for traditional Bizen pottery.

We arrived in Kurashiki as it was getting dark. Kurashiki is the same size as Himeji, about 500,000 people. They are famous for an area of town with very old, historical warehouses. The city use to store rice and also had a big spinning factory, which now houses nice shops and museums. There’s a beautiful canal. That night there were candles lining the canals and at the old spinning factory. We walked around for a couple of hours just taking it all in.

Candle Lit Canal

Sakura Shaped Candle Display

Afterwards, we went to an Okinawan bar. I had a blue/green drink called "Exshiting".

Here's Julian a couple of drinks later

We stayed at a pretty nice ryokan. Here's where we slept - futons.

The next day we walked around town. It was raining, so we hung out had coffee, and went to a couple museums.

The Japanese Folk Craft Museum was fantastic, with beautiful pottery, chests and baskets.

We stopped in at a little Japanese toy museum which was filled with tons of toys crammed into display cases. Here are some kokeshi dolls and kites.

We hopped on another train. I just have two words about the way we travled - Juhachi kippu!!! Juhachi kippu is the ticket that you pay 2300 yen (about $20) to ride the rapid train (slower than the bullet train) all day and can get on and off as much as you like. We used those train tickets for most of our trip. JR offers those tickets a few times each year.

On our way to Hiroshima, we decided to stop in a small town I read about in my guide book, Matsunaga. We had some time to kill before we met up with Nirmal and it was raining, so we stopped at the only shoe museum in Japan. The town was known for making geta - wooden sandals. The museum was in an old geta factory. The show started with geta/zori and ended with the Apollo Moon Boots. There was even a display of the old geta factory along with the old machinery. It was fascinating. It's fun to find stuff that's off the beaten track and worth a visit.

Shoe Factory

In the courtyard outside of the museum there was a park in the shape of a foot where you could sit and hang out.

Our ticket also included the toy museum which was connected to the shoe museum. It had a more organized display than the one in Kurashiki. It was huge! They even had a display of Arizona kachina dolls!

We finally made our way to Hiroshima to hook up with Nirmal!

To be continued....

1 comment:

Gwynne Sullivan said...

All those pictures are so awesome, and I'm so happy to see you're back blogging again!