I’ve spent plenty of time speaking about how a lot I really like the Japanese countryside, however there’s one other a part of Japan that’s pricey to my coronary heart: the islands!
I spent two years educating English on two little islands off of Kyushu, and I’ve to say there actually is one thing particular about Japanese island life. And I really like how every little island I’ve visited in Japan has its personal distinctive character – one thing that has made me wanting to see increasingly more of the nation’s almost 7,000 islands.
And on this specific go to to Japan I had my eyes on a couple of of Japan’s artwork islands. I had visited probably the most well-known artwork island, Naoshima, a few years in the past, however since then I’d heard that different islands within the space had turned themselves into open air artwork museums and I used to be curious to see in the event that they have been as pretty as Naoshima.
The primary on my record was Inujima, which interprets to “canine island” (therefore why it was first on my record, duh), and it additionally occurs to be near a metropolis I’ve been dying to probe for years: Okayama!
So I hopped on the shinkansen bullet practice from Tokyo and a few three hours later discovered myself in Okayama. I might spend my first day exploring Okayama’s websites, after which the subsequent day I deliberate to enterprise out to Inujima.
- 1 Day 1: Okayama Metropolis itinerary
- 2 Day 2: Okayama + Inujima Artwork Island
Day 1: Okayama Metropolis itinerary
Manekineko Artwork Museum
Have you ever ever gone right into a Japanese home or restaurant or lodge and seen a bit cat figurine with its paw up within the air? I’ve seen so lots of them, however I by no means truly knew what they have been for. Properly, the Manekineko Artwork Museum is devoted to those cats!
The museum has an enormous number of maneki-neko, and you may study all about the place they arrive from and what the totally different poses and colours symbolize. Additionally they have a present store with numerous lovable maneki-neko, together with descriptions of what they imply (additionally in English).
After which you possibly can go into the adjoining constructing to first write down a want and pin it on a wall of needs, after which go and paint your personal maneki-neko.
I’ll admit this was a extra thrilling plan in concept than once I truly sat down to color my little ceramic cat, as I instantly remembered that I’m not excellent at portray? Ah nicely, it made for a cute, if additionally fairly ugly, memento from Okayama.
Demikatsudon lunch at Ajitsukasa Nomura
One in every of my favourite Japanese dishes is katsudon, which is principally only a bowl of rice topped with a pork cutlet, egg, greens, and scrumptious sauce. It won’t sound like a lot, however oh my goodness my tummy is rumbling simply desirous about it.
So once I discovered that Okayama has its personal particular model of katsudon referred to as demikatsudon, I needed to attempt it! Demikatsudon makes use of cabbage as an alternative of eggs, and the sauce is – I truly don’t know what it’s, however it’s distinctive and yummy.
For probably the most genuine model of this Okayama specialty I went to the restaurant the place it was invented, Ajitsukasa Nomura. It’s a comfortable little restaurant however in fact will get busy throughout lunch as a result of it’s so well-known, so attempt to come early.
There’s a merchandising machine within the entrance the place you should purchase a ticket on your lunch set (additionally they have an English menu that will help you out), after which once you’re seated you merely hand your ticket to the waitress – no Japanese crucial!
I ordered a set with a standard katsudon (on the left) and a demikatsudon (proper) for 1,100 yen, which additionally got here with miso soup. Guys, it was so good.
Okayama Korakuen Backyard
After lunch I took a road automotive as much as Korakuen Backyard. Google Maps might help you discover which tram to take (simply lookup instructions to the backyard and it offers you the general public transport choice). The experience prices 100 yen, which you pay on the entrance of the tram once you get off.
The Korakuen Backyard close to Okayama Fort is seemingly thought-about certainly one of Japan’s prime three gardens. You should purchase mixed admission for the citadel and backyard for 560 yen on the backyard gate, after which make your means via the gardens and over to Okayama citadel.
The backyard itself is large and since I used to be there on a fantastic sunny day there have been so many couples and households doing photoshoots there, which was enjoyable to observe. It was accomplished in 1700 and nonetheless has the identical type from again within the Edo Interval.
Whenever you rise up to the water in entrance of Okayama citadel you may as well take a pedal boat journey within the peach and swan boats, which seemed like a enjoyable option to get a view of the fort.
In all probability one of many most important issues I used to be excited to see in Okayama was Okayama Fort, accomplished in 1597, and it didn’t disappoint.
The outside is tremendous spectacular, and you may stroll as much as the highest flooring to see some superb panoramic views of the town.
However one of many issues I actually liked concerning the fort is that it has a sort of informal vibe inside. There’s a Bizen pottery workshop the place you can also make your personal pottery, a dressing room the place you possibly can attempt on a standard kimono and take pictures (at no cost), and even just a little cafe serving Okayama’s well-known fruit parfaits!
In fact I attempted the fruit parfait. It was so good. Like, that in all probability feels like an exaggeration as a result of a fruit parfait is a fruit parfait, however truly I actually do assume there’s one thing so particular about Japanese fruit – particularly the grapes. Undoubtedly attempt it in the event you get the prospect!
Sushi making workshop + dinner at Kidoairaku
I’ve by no means tried making sushi earlier than, so I used to be excited to attend slightly workshop + meal at Kidoairaku.
The sushi chef didn’t converse a lot English, however he’s taught plenty of foreigners earlier than so he was good at speaking with out phrases. I made some conventional sushi in addition to Kaeshizushi, which is an area model with a really particular story behind it. He has just a little video explaining the which means behind this sushi and I’m not going to spoil it for you, however it’s so candy.
Um, principally although I simply discovered that making sushi is tremendous troublesome, and my knife expertise are poor. It didn’t assist that I used to be nodding off from jet lag so… I gained’t say I used to be a star scholar? It didn’t actually matter although, all of it nonetheless tasted good.
The workshop/meal value three,780 yen, which contemplating how a lot sushi I made (greater than within the photograph), would have been a superb deal for the meals alone, even with out the workshop. No less than once I consider how loopy costly sushi in Norway is, ahh.
Enterprise Lodge Shinko
I spent the night time on the Enterprise Lodge Shinko, which is just about precisely like each different enterprise lodge I’ve stayed at in Japan – no frills however completely good. It’s a few 5 minute stroll from Okayama Station, which I discovered very handy.
Day 2: Okayama + Inujima Artwork Island
Kibitsu shrine blessing + fortune telling ceremony
Within the morning I checked out of the lodge and left my baggage to select up later within the day, after which I headed to the Kibitsu shrine.
Visiting the Kibitsu-jinja was on the prime of my record for Okayama, as a result of the expertise I had deliberate there sounded so cool. And it was!
The shrine itself is gorgeous, however what’s so particular is which you could pay to take part in a blessing ceremony after which get your fortune advised as a part of the Narukama Shinji ritual. And don’t fear, they’re extremely welcoming to foreigners and other people of various faiths – everybody I met there was enthusiastic and tremendous useful.
Once I arrived I went as much as the reservations desk on the left hand aspect and requested to participate within the blessing ceremony. They gave me a bit of paper to fill out my info and prayer – that they had an English information to assist me do that. I wrote my identify, start date, residence, and prayer right here, after which selected the quantity I needed to pay (I paid three,000 yen, the most cost effective choice). I additionally requested to participate within the Narukama Shinji ritual after the blessing ceremony.
Then I waited in a small room with a bunch of households (I feel most individuals have been right here to have their youngsters blessed), and after some time a priest referred to as our names and ushered us into one other room for the ceremony. He chanted all of our prayers, and it was so enjoyable to listen to him name out “Shirubia Rorensu from Raurando, Noruway.” We have been every given a department and on the finish of the ceremony positioned them on the altar with some claps and bows – I simply adopted what the individuals subsequent to me have been doing.
After this most individuals have been carried out, however I needed to do the Narukama Shinji ritual to see if my prayer would come true!
I used to be proven down a hall into one other little room for the ritual, and since I used to be the one one collaborating they let me take pictures.
Principally, on this ritual a steaming basket with rice is positioned inside a pot, and the sound that it makes determines whether or not or not your prayer will come true. In the event you hear a sound and have a superb feeling, then your prayer will come true.
Apparently the native college has tried to determine why the rice typically makes this sound, and why typically some individuals within the room hear it and others don’t, however they will’t truly clarify it. I used to be intrigued, however once I did right here the sound filling the room it virtually scared me a bit of – it actually seems like one thing supernatural!
I hope that doesn’t imply my prayer gained’t come true, particularly as I used to be praying for the properly being of my household. Although everybody stated it was a great signal that the noise was so loud!
Lunch at Doppo-Kan
Earlier than heading to the port for Inujima I had an early lunch at Doppo-Kan, a restaurant hooked up to the Miyashita Sake Brewery, which produces sake, whiskey, and beer. I’m not a fan of sake however I did take pleasure in sampling the fruit beers, and my lunch was lovely (and scrumptious).
Injuima Artwork Island
After which I headed to Inujima!
Inujima is considered one of a gaggle of islands I deliberate to go to which participate within the Setouchi Triennale, an artwork pageant held as soon as each three years, when new reveals are arrange across the islands. This implies you can wander across the island (and Inujima is so small that you simply actually can wander round the entire island) and stumble throughout trendy artwork items. Some are built-in proper into the character, whereas others are housed in gallery rooms.
There are indicators pointing you in the direction of the varied artwork items across the island, although I didn’t pay them a lot consideration and as an alternative loved being stunned by what I discovered.
Once I arrived on the island I went to the Inujima Island Seirensho Artwork Museum ticket workplace (proper subsequent to the port), the place I paid 2,060 for entry to the museum, the Artwork Home Venture galleries, and the Seaside Inujima Island Gallery. There are additionally numerous free artistic endeavors scattered across the island should you don’t need to pay, however I discovered the Seirensho Artwork Museum particularly well worth the ticket worth.
Like, I’m not often a fan of museums, which is essentially why the artwork islands attraction to me – I like wandering round a stupendous island and stumbling throughout artwork items as an alternative of shuffling by way of stuffy gallery rooms of a museum. Nevertheless the Seirensho Artwork Museum is housed in an previous copper refinery and guys, it’s creepy.
I don’t need to spoil it for you as a result of not understanding what I used to be in for undoubtedly added to the entire expertise, however like, I used to be fairly terrified as I walked by way of the museum. In a great way although.
Over the subsequent couple of days I visited 4 extra of the islands collaborating within the Setouchi Triennale, so I’ll write extra concerning the pageant in my subsequent weblog submit, as this one has already gotten fairly lengthy!
Attending to Inujima Island
From Okayama, take a practice to Saidaiji Station (20 minutes, ¥240). Outdoors the practice station you possibly can catch the bus for Higashi Hoden, and get off at Nishi Hoden (55 minutes, ¥510 – pay whenever you depart the bus). There’s additionally a direct bus to the port from Okayama for ¥750, however it doesn’t run fairly often. Then take a ferry to Inujima (10 minutes, ¥300). Yow will discover the ferry schedule right here.
You can too get a ferry to Inujima from Naoshima (55 minutes, ¥1,850) and Teshima (25 minutes, ¥1,230), two different artwork islands. Yow will discover the ferry schedules right here.
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