02.01.2014 - 02.01.2014 7 °C
Kurashiki, a short train ride from Okoyama back on the main island of Honshū, was the next stop on the agenda. A relative back-water of Japan being a village of approximately 400k, it is a quaint little place where the Bikan historical quarter continues to give modernity the cold shoulder. The dichotomy between Kurashiki and the hustle of Tokyo or Osaka is immediately apparent, though no less enjoyable.
Bikan is made up of narrow streets of old style merchant shops, selling a lot of local pottery or local other handcrafts, sweets and also jeans, which apparently Kurashiki is where they first started making Japanese jeans! It was really pleasant wandering around these old streets and popping in and out of old shops, where the shopkeepers are really friendly (even more so than what is the norm in Japan).
After shopping old school style, we decided to try out the local department store, as my feet were yearning for some new shoes. I found a couple of pairs I liked and asked to try them on, however struck a bit of a roadblock when the shop keeper explained that they only stocked ladies shoes up to size 7.5, so my size 10 feet were out of luck on getting kitted out in some new gear. Bugger.
The next morning we went back into Bikan to grab some shopping (chopsticks and some local pottery), before making our way back to Okoyama to get the Shinkansen to Kobe. We were hopeful of having some time at Okoyama to put our bags into a locker and have a brief peek at the city whilst waiting for our train, however upon arrival to Okoyama we were greeted with the rare chaos of major delays on the Shinkansen lines due to an early morning fire at a station in Tokyo, that had virtually paralysed the network for several hours. Fortunately trains were now back up and running, however it meant we were unable to find free baggage lockers or stray too far as we needed to keep an eye on what was happening with our train. After a delay of about 45 mins we were back in action, and headed for Kobe.