Kurashiki, probably Japan’s cutest town

Time for some touring, I went to the historical center to walk around and discover a bit the town center, and it seems that everyone is getting married this time of the year! Kurashiki indeed looks like a nice place for some wedding photos with its canal and cute bridges, they can take great photos from several perspectives if the weather is in favor.

Just Married
Just Married

I guess I am really addicted to caffeine, I did another stop for coffee now at Kurashiki Coffeae-Kan, they have their own roasted coffee and apparently also their own kind of cappuccino. I have to say that it was quite good, but totally different from the traditional cappuccino I am used to, the foam was cold and thick (I think that was really cream) and the cup was quite small, but I liked it anyway!

While at the café I read about Kurashiki and what Frommers recommends to do, and one thing that they say that it is quite good, is the Ohara Museum of Art, one of a kind in Japan and with a lot of art and history. Indeed it is a great museum, but one spends A LOT of time inside, it is great if you want to do something different during your holidays or if the weather forces you to be inside. I really liked the museum and I totally recommend it, but beware that you’ll spend a considerably amount of time if you want to enjoy it properly. I am not going to spoil the details about the museum, it has some very unique pieces of art inside and some very well-known artists as well, quite surprising for a museum in a small city. Check it you if you wish to know more!

As I mentioned before, the museum has a lot to see and I had to take a break in between for lunch, this time I was looking for sushi but I ended up eating something else that I have no idea what, I ate at Kamoi restaurant, the food was good and the staff really nice! I like the way in Japan the staff are so nice when people get inside or leave a place, might be just robotic, but they always seem nice when you arrive and after you pay…

After lunch, I went for the round two of the museum tour, and with a lot of school kids… It gets harder to enjoy whatsoever with annoying and noisy kids around…, so, I needed to clear my head out of noise and I decided to detour to the top of the hill. According to the map that was also worth visiting and so I did it! The view was nice, over Kurashiki, but the temple just another temple. One thing about Japan is that a lot of temples look-alike, some bigger some smaller, but one might get tired of looking at the same all the time in different cities. What’s worth spending time is inside, and you have to pay to get in. So far, that’s the interesting part about temples.

Kurashiki historical center is really small, in one long afternoon you can see the main attractions, after running almost all the old town I thought it was time for the check in and taking a small rest at the hotel, not sleeping though. That’s when I asked about the tattoo…

One thing I also noticed in Japan, and maybe I noticed this because I come from a coffee consumption culture, is that the cafés close quite early, around 5:30-6pm and they kick their clients out. I forgot about this…, and a few minutes before 5 I went to the café El Greco, another cute café that’s worth the visit. The thing is, when I got inside there were just a few people, I made my order and I start reading a bit my book, a few minutes later I realized that I was the only client inside. And I mean the “a few minutes” part, because I am sure I arrived a few minutes before 5 and I left exactly at 5pm.

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What else to do? A few more museums, Kurashiki is full of them, the Ohara that I mentioned before, and a few others. I got inside two or three after that, and at least one of them I have no clue what it was about, I swear I really have no idea at what I was look at! I guess the Japanese culture is very self oriented, even their own tourism strategies. Not that it is a bad thing, but I guess they could be a bit more open for foreigners.

Another detail I have noticed about Japan, in the not so big cities, is that people eat early, so kinda of doesn’t make sense to have restaurants open until late. In Tokyo I didn’t feel this, but I did a bit in Hiroshima and now in Kurashiki, it was quite hard to find a place for dinner around 7:30pm, so after a while looking around I decided just to get inside the first one open. Something that I really can’t complain about Japan is how nice and helpful the people are, and so it was again at this restaurant! The communication was complicated, but with some pointing I managed to get food to eat, and again, a it was really good.

Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel
Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel

Long day, a lot of walking, so time to try something Japanese that I heard so much about, the onsen! And…. Nope, I didn’t find it nice at all, it was a funny experience and I felt totally an outsider, I don’t know if the staring was due the bandage covering my tattoo or the fact that I don’t look Asiatic. According to what I read, both can be the reason to be looked at… And I learned another thing, I needed another shower, but with my soap! I hated that smell I had on me!

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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