October 3, 2012

Enjoy arts in Kurashiki and walk in Okayama

In the center of aesthetic area of Kurashiki, they have the OHARA Museum of Arts (大原美術館) as a landmark. The Museum was founded in the early 20th century by Ohara Magosaburo (大原孫三郎), a businessperson and a philanthropist. He greatly developed Ohara conglomerate such as current Kuraray(クラレ), etc. and used his huge earnings for society welfare and culture promotion. One of his achievements is the establishment of the museum introducing western modern paints to Japan so that Japanese learn the western paintings which were not so popular at that time.
OHARA Museum of Arts
The collections are magnificent. Kodama Torajiro(児玉虎次郎), a painter learned in Europe and received support by Ohara, bought all of them at his discretion during his stay. I was impressed by his aesthetic choice. Different from nowadays, information must have been limited and it made difficult him to select the right ones. In the Ohara Museum, we can see a lot of paintings of famous names. I recommend you to visit the museum which gives us a great impact to the tourism of Kurashiki.  

OHARA Museum of Arts (大原美術館)  http://www.ohara.or.jp/200707/eng/menu.html
For lunch, we went to a restaurant named "Hachikengura(八間蔵)" in Hotel Nikko Kurashiki(ホテル日航倉敷) near the aesthetic district. It is a French restaurant using an old authentic Japanese storage. The high ceiling brings a feeling of freedom. The interior is modern. 
Outside of Hachikengura
Local wine using muscat  
Soup of pumpkin 
 Sweet potato puree rolled by beef 
Dessert using grapes 
At lunch, the choice of menu was limited. We had to choose a set meal among three. No a la carte menu. The price is around JPY3,000 per person. Novelty was not found. Most dishes were cooked in a very basic manner. Comme ci, comme ca. Service is maintained as a hotel quality. Local wine using muscat of Okayama was nice. Though it looks sweet, not at all. Dry and light flavor. That was a good finding. My rating is 2.5 out of 5. Gochiso-samadeshita!

After the lunch, as we still had time, we went to Okayama(岡山) city, the center city of Okayama Prefecture. In terms of tourism, Okayama seemed less attractive than Kurasiki, but it seemed busier regarding business. As a beginner of Okayama, we went to Korakuen garden(後楽園) and Okayama castle(岡山城). 
Entrance of Korakuen garden
Beautiful green garden
Traditional bridge and a pond 
Okayama castle 
Golden killer whale on the edge of roof, protecting god of castle  
Korakuen garden is one of the three major Japanese gardens in Japan. But the impression of Korakuen was very simple comparing to other two. Yet, walking in the vast green fields was so refreshing. Few customers walked around in the late Sunday afternoon. I felt as if we could dominate the big garden. 

Just next to the Korakuen garden, Okayama castle is located. 10-15 minutes walk. The castle is unfortunately a reconstructed one due to the air-attack of the World War II. We can go up to the 4th floor by elevator and to the top by steps. The view from the top was nice. The inside is a museum of the history of the castle and Okayama. I learned how rulers of the castle had been changed in the severe civil war period. 

I was satisfied as a lover of history. But my legs...were so tired after much walk. We quickly fell asleep in Shinkansen to Tokyo...with good memory of this trip!

Okayama castle(岡山城) http://www.okayama-kanko.net/ujo/index.html

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