Thursday, April 5, 2012

end of 1st year in japan (part 2) - okayama

by mid march, i already embarked on a journey i planned in the previous few weeks, a trip to the west! though last summer i've reached as far as sapporo in hokkaido (noted in this travelogue), but i have never been to the west of japan before. so, i use this excuse and took the advantage to visit Huda in okayama. the bus ride was more than 12 hours from omiya. it was a night bus and when i reached okayama, it was morning, but i ended up cooping myself in the futon with huda for the whole day XD it was pleasant, to just be able to spend time leisurely, doing nothing. it was only on the second day that we got moving and i did some sightseeing. because it was only two of us, no much time was wasted, we managed to tour Kourakuen and Okayamajou in one go. apparently foreign students in okayama prefecture got free entrance to such tourist spots, if only they make it for all foreign students throughout japan, coz it's not that cheap. nevertheless, the view was priceless! as i'm living in saitama, i have no chance visiting castles, this was my first time. it's more like a museum, but all the descriptions and stories written are in japanese, we were so lazy to read and understand them, we were not taught all these historical terms, so sorry. for all the castle lovers, you have to understand these kind of japanese in order to get into the spirit of it.


these koi are huge!


lots of Ume!


after we were done with sightseeing, our stomach growled and demands for food. so we satiate them with some okonomiyaki and modernyaki, i'm not sure whether they do it hiroshima style or osaka style(the ones i usually eat here), we were too hungry to take note. maps in iPhone sure is useful in such times, i just typed okonomiyaki and they appear. at first, the shop looks creepy to me, but it was alright. we were full enough to take some home. not only that, for dinner we had ramen! more first time for me, well ramen usually uses pork as the essence, but there is a place here that serves halal ramen. it was awesome! i could understand a bit of the japanese rave with ramen now. there i also got the chance to meet some of the TAs that were with us for a while when we were still in JAD.

modernyaki up-close


Yohei - Hide - Kurose

the next day, we continued our sightseeing and went to kurashiki. it is really a beautiful place! it reminds me a bit of malacca, they has this small river and you can ride the sampan as the guide will row you along  it. as any tourist spot would be, it's lined with shops, there were a lot of nice ones, including one specialized in cat-themed stuff! it was so cute, i got one of the stuff as an omiyage for arini, coz i know she'll definitely love it. they also have this one building which is covered with vines, at the time the leaf hasn't come out yet, and it's all chocolate, like a ruin covered in withered branch. very astonishing. i also discovered that there's a place near here that is famous for producing jeans. my brother sure knows about those brands that i just couldn't care less. and later, Kurose n Hide joined us and willing to show me around. so we went to an art museum where it assembles a lot of art pieces which are still a wonder to me. it reminds me when i went to carnegie mellon art museum in pittsburgh last summer with faseeha. it's true when they say u have to know the background of the paintings to be able to get into it. i'm yet to be in that stage, all i can say is those are nice pieces. after that, we looked into some shops at the shopping outlet near the place. huda finally found what she wanted to shop and i spared my wallets this time.

bikanchiku - isn't this view nice

they forgot to make us wear the headgear

ivy square - creepy but looks nice

the cat shop!

it says 'kurashiki - jeans town'

i love this display!

origami - stuff i like

i like taking these pix

even on the previous day, Hide has been telling us of the places i could see in okayama like Setoohashi bridge. it's a huge structure that connects okayama (part of honshuu) and kagawa (part of shikoku). it was so kind of them to actually bring us there. it was funny at first coz i didn't even know they were coming with car when they came to meet us earlier. it was night when we reached the bridge. it was huge just like i imagined! and beautiful. i love to see this kind of structures, to feel how great such things could be built, they really give me wonders. we could also see trains going to and fro under the roads throughout the bridge. btw, yesterday i watched the news when the great strong wind struck the area, that train was stopped in the middle of the bridge and they were stuck like that for about 7 hours. it must be really tiring. i made a wise choice to just stay home when they already warned about the wind. it was scary to hear it howled outside though.

when we took the photos, it was pitch dark at the place, spare some lights some place away. so the first photo was aided by flashlights by a couple of iPhones and the photos with us in it was actually a brilliant idea to utilize the car spotlight. 

that ends my okayama arc. it seems i have to do another entry for the next part of my trip. it's at the heart of Osaka! 

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