Day 20

 It’s Monday morning, the weather is rather gray, a few drops are falling here and there. The Typhoon is still advancing, but from the morning forecast we should be able to cross the bridge towards Shikoku Island and Takamatsu this evening. In the meantime, we check out of the hotel, find the coin locker at the station, place the suitcase and the electronics holding backpacks in one of the lockers, and have breakfast at the station mall. 

We then take the local train to Kurashiki (after having collected some JR stamps, of course). The train crosses many rice fields along the way. Kurashiki’s Bikan historical area is quite famous and the objective of the day. It is a picturesque merchant’s neighborhood that has remained pretty much authentic. We head there, walking from the train station through a covered alley. Arriving at the edge of the neighborhood, there is a small hill with a couple of shrines, which we decide to visit. The sun is not really coming out, but it is pretty humid. We climb up to the Ashi shrine and visit the place. There are plenty of beautiful trees and small and medium buildings (honden, haiden and heiden, but which is which?). We then head back down through a bamboo forest, fend-off some mosquitoes, and reach the Bikan neighborhood. 

There is a crisscross of narrow streets, residences, and buildings are white and, we are informed, have kept the traditional looks. There are many shops and restaurants, and a good dose of museums. The Kurashiki river passes in the center, a few swans are swimming along it. We decide to eat some setouchi lime cold soba then head to a museum: Ukiyo-E Kurashiki which is centered on Ukiyo-E art (obviously). There we can see traditional pieces of work by Utagawa Kuniyoshi: there are ghosts, yokai. To enter the museum, we need to take off our shoes: the setting is an old traditional tatami house with wooden walls and paper windows. After the visit, we go shopping some more, then get back to Kurashiki station, find the stamp, and head back to Okayama. We get our suitcases back from the coin locker, quickly buy 4 of the famous Okayama white peaches, this being the season, and take the Marine liner to Takamatsu. 

We arrive at 7:15 pm, it is raining in Takamatsu. We find the hotel, eat some Ramen, and the kids get ready to rest. Samuel goes out for a walk with David to prepare Tuesday’s plan: David has offered to be the guide, but the Typhoon is making us juggle the plans. A night view of Takamatsu’s red lighthouse, and off to sleep. 



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