TRIP TO SETOUCHI-TAKAMATSU, FOOD, OKAYAMA
Rated three stars in Michelin Green Guide Japan, Ritsurin Garden is one of the largest gardens in Japan. Having ceremonial tea in a teahouse, or taking a Japanese-style boat cruise would also be a memorable experience.
Yashima (mountain) is known for an historic battle in the 12th century between the two powerful warrior groups of those days, namely the Heike (Taira family) and the Genji (Minamoto family). From the top of the mountain, you can command a grandstand view of the sea. Yashima-ji Temple is the 84th temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage route of 88 temples. Make a visit to Shikoku Mura, an open-air architectural park in which 33 old folk houses and storehouses from around Shikoku have been moved and restored.
Mure-cho in Takamatsu City is a production area of granite, considered the world’s most valuable stones. There are about 300 stone factories and when Mure Genpei Ishi-Akari Road, a night festival is held, soft light from stone lanterns illuminate the roads for two months in every summer (from Aug 8-Sep 19 in 2015).
Great Seto Bridge
Great Seto Bridge spans the Seto Inland Sea. The splendid view of the bridge can be seen from Mt. Washu and the bridge is illuminated on Sundays and Japanese holidays. From Overnight Train Sunrise Seto (from Tokyo), you can see the sunrise when crossing the bridge if you are lucky. When you take Marine Liner, getting a window seat is recommended. You can see beautiful scenery of islands dotting the sea from the train when crossing the bridge, which takes about one hour.
Ushimado is called “the Aegean in Japan.” From the observatory in Olive Garden, you will encounter the lovely landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
Shizutani School was a school for common people built during the 17th-18th centuries and directly run by the Okayama domain. Surrounded by mountains, most of its buildings are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan and the auditorium is the only Japanese National Treasure as a school building. Traditional Bizen ware pottery is used for its roof tiles.
Bizen ware is a type of Japanese pottery that is rustic and characterized by the absence of glaze and painting. As there are many Bizen ware potteries and galleries in the village of Imbe, you can look around the kilns and even try your hand at making Bizen ware yourself, if you wish.
Okayama is one of the low-rainfall areas in Japan and therefore famous for good fruits. Let’s go fruit picking, such as for white peaches, Muscat and Pione grapes, etc.
Don’t forget to eat udon noodles in Kagawa Prefecture, which are characterized their chewiness. Note that some udon restaurants are run by noodle factories and most of them are closed on Sunday. Honetsukidori means roasted chicken thighs with bone, which go well with beer. You can find it at restaurants and also izakaya pubs. You can enjoy different seasoning in different restaurants, and also different taste depending on whether the chicken is young or old. Ozoni rice-cake soup on New Year’s Day in Kagawa uniquely uses white-type miso soup and rice cakes with sweet bean paste.
In Hinase, a place famous for oysters, in Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture, one of the trendiest casual foods is kakioko, a type of okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) with a lot of oysters. The rich flavor of oysters goes well with okonomiyaki sauce. (Kakioko is available from late October to early April.)