Back in Okayama
Posted by Heliocentrism on June 5, 2015
Thursday, April 30, 2015
We have them, we just don’t like unlocking them
When Mark and I stayed at this campsite the year before, we saw that there were showers. We did not use them since they were all locked. It was mid-fall at the time, and we thought that that was the reason the showers were locked. (This sort of thing happens in Japan; the campsite is available year round, but some facilities like the showers are only unlocked from May to September.) So when our friend picked this campsite we gave no objections.
Roland stopped one of the campsite caretakers to ask what time the showers would be unlocked. He gave us a look that showed his disdain for uppity city-folk, then gave us directions for some sketchy onsen over yonder. I know I was in Japan, but at that moment I felt like I was in the American deep south. Then the caretaker walked away mumbling to himself and chewing on a straw of hay. (Okay, there was no hay…)
We couldn’t find the onsen the strange caretaker told us about, but we managed to find a nice inexpensive one not too far from where we were. We got in and showered, even taking some time to soak for a few brief minutes before going to meet the South African friends of our South African friends.
Mark and I had already seen everything that Okayama had to offer. We lived there for a whole 7 months. So, we really didn’t care what we saw that day. We were just happy to hang out with our old nerdy friends. I don’t know if this is their, or our, or both couple’s last year here in Japan. During the whole trip there was an ominous feeling of an end of an era.
We all made hypothetical plans to meet up in some country or another to do one more camping trip, but who knows if that will actually happen. This is how life is for a wandering ex-pat. You make great friends, but everyone knows that one day you or they or both will move away, and you might see them rarely, if ever.
We walked through the gardens and passed the castle. We never went into the castle itself, choosing instead to take photos of it from the garden. The best part of most Japanese castles are the photos of it from the outside.
With nothing left to do in Okayama city, we headed to Kurashiki’s historic area. We walked along the canal. Our friends caught up with their friends and the six of us, 3 couples, moved through this romantic area.
This town makes denim. Apparently, it is famous for it. There are many denim shops in the history area and one of them sells everything denim; from jeans and hats, to burgers and ice cream. Yup, ice cream!
You can clearly see in the photo above a cone of denim ice cream, a denim burger, denim Chinese dumplings, and denim meat buns, which are all sold out. Mark and I could not pass up a chance to try denim soft serve ice cream. The denim burger, we could pass on; quite easily.
The ice cream was actually flavored with the taste of the plain marble sodas that are common here in Japan. It was okay.
That evening all 6 of us when back to the campsite for a grilled dinner. Only 4 of us spent the night at the camp grounds. The other two would join us at the next campsite. They had not done much camping before and this was their first camping trip in Japan. We would show them the rope.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
- Coordinates 34°42’11.1″N 133°45’22.7″E
- 1,000 JPY per tent for night camping
- 500 JPY per tent for day camping
- Parking is free
- Open year round except for Dec. 29 – Jan. 3
- Night camping 14:00 ~ 10:00
- Day camping 10:00 ~ 17:00
- There is a persimmon grove where you can buy fruit in the fall.
- Take your trash home with you.
- You need to make reservations before hand.
- There is a water slide that you (if you’re super skinny) and your kids can use in the summer.
- There are showers, but they seem to never be unlocked.
- The toilets and non-flush and, depending where your camping spot it, a long walk from your tent.
Zō no Yu Onsen
(Hot water of Kura)
- Coordinates 34°36’36.4″N 133°46’44.2″E
- 410 yen – onsen
- 750 yen – onsen and sauna
- 10:00 – 0:00
- There is a ramen shop in the lobby area.
- Bring a towel.
- Shampoo and body wash are provided.
- Coordinates 34° 39′ 54.65″ N, 133° 56′ 9.79″ E
2-chome Marunouchi, Okayama-shi, Okayama
- Castle: +81 86-225-2096
- Garden: +81 86-272-1148
- Castle – 300 yen
- Garden – 400 yen
- Castle & Garden – 560
- Prices vary when there are special exhibits.
- Parking is near the Garden. It costs 100 Yen/ hour.
- 9:00 ~ 17:30
- last entry is at 17:00
- close Dec 29 – 31
- Parking is near the Garden. It costs 100 Yen/ hour. (This is amazingly cheap for city parking!)
- Coordinates 34°35’45.7″N 133°46’16.8″E
1 Chuo, Kurashiki City, Okayama
- 086-426-3411 (Sightseeing Department)
- Official Website
- Japan Guide
- Visitors’ Guide
- Top 10 Things to do
- This town makes a lot of denim.
- Kurashiki has a preserved Edo Period (1603-1867) canal area.
- There lots of shops in the historical district.
- There is also a pricey hotel in the Ivy Square area.