Friday, June 08, 2007

Golden Week part 2: Okayama/ Kurashiki

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I love places like Okayama, places where people live and work, places with only a few touristy spots that are mostly frequented by locals. Not to say that Okayama is nondescript or boring. It has a beautiful dramatic castle that looks down a beautiful river. It has one of the three most beautiful parks in Japan (another is actually where I'm teaching now in Mito but I haven't had time to check it out yet). It has great little small city things like a pretty canal that runs down the middle of town and a cool fountain outside the sizable station. It is most certainly not "countryside" as students say or "rural" as people who don't obsess over "r"s and "l"s say.

Kurashiki is a stones throw away from Okayama and is picturesque and in some ways "darling." It had a cool hillside cemetery to explore (I know, I'm down right obsessed with hanging out in cemeteries these days but it's just so fascinating and peaceful all at once...) and the view of the hamlet was lovely.

and on to the commentary:

So, Japan loves to travel. They so do love to be tourists. Both domestic and international travel is advertised exhaustively. I've heard that one of the mid summer three day weekends was added primarily to stimulate the economy by encouraging domestic travel that weekend. JR--Japan Railways-- picks a destination and runs shiny poster advertising it's cultural or natural beauty on all the trains. This year, Okayama and Kurashiki were picked as a top tourist destination. Men in old fashioned three piece suits drink green tea with middle aged smiling women and inspect local pottery. They have picnics in the Korakoen park and pose respectably along the Kurashiki water way. I wonder who picks this years tourist destination and how bitter the competition is. Last year they advertised parts of Hokkaido, in part inspiring last years trip up there, so their campaigns definitely work. I wonder if Okayama is indeed getting an influx of tourism this year. I wonder how much the local economy really is stimulated by the ad campaign.

Regardless, it was a relaxed and beautiful day wandering among the local sites.
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