Tourists come to the small city of Kurashiki to see an area that looks much like it did in the 17th century: the Bikan merchant quarter, which is centered around an ancient stone-line canal.
The area is known for a distinctive pottery style, and many of the shops had beautiful displays of their wares.
Down a side street is a preserved building that once housed the Kurasaki Spinning Works, established in 1889. It closed just after WWII, and is now a beautiful store selling locally made woven goods, including the distinctive noren shown below, the modern pattern is unusual.
The Kanryuji Shrine garden and lotus pond glistened in the rain.
I noticed some walls had a charred wood treatment that I found compelling. It is not a result of accidental fire, it is a deliberate treatment of Japanese red cedar wood to achieve that look and also making it more durable. My friend Aki informed me that it is known as yakisugi or shou-sugi-ban.
At a small curry shop (apparently the Japanese are curry enthusiasts!) we enjoyed a delicious seafood curry dish with background music that included “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” sung by an American female singer I could not quite recognize, followed by “Sincerely” sung by Louis Armstrong. Of course.
On our way back to the Kurashiki train station we came across a shop that only sold decorative tape, with hundreds of design choices. The English sign in the window said “Masking Tape” but that mundane phrase does not adequately describe the multitude of styles available!
Next post about our Kyoto trip >>> Himeji Castle, 1333 to 2017: Rebuilt, Restored, Remarkable