It took us three trains and much of the day to reach Kurashiki, the southernmost spot we are visiting on Honshu, the main Japanese island. We left the cold weather behind and I moved my warm clothes at the bottom of my suitcase. We spent a day and a half here, strolling along the river and riding bicycles through rice fields.
April 5 – Stoll through Old Town
We checked into our hotel in mid-afternoon and walked a block to the old part of town where we strolled along the river, glad to have finally reached the land of blooming trees. Nancy and I walked uphill to the shrine. She stared aghast at the length of the staircase. The temple closed before we reached it, but we enjoyed the beautiful light, peach ice cream (closer to sorbet), and laughed through dinner with a waiter who spoke no English and kept trying to get us to order things we didn’t want. Fortunately, Mari, our guide, was persistent. Nancy and I split a couple dishes, including a tasty rice porridge with chicken and veggies.
April 6 – Kibiji Bike Ride
We took a couple short train rides to reach the beginning of our 22 km ride on the Kibiji bike route. Our one-speed bicycles had comfortable seats and a basket in front like in ET or the Wizard of Oz; this came in handy for holding the bottle of peach water I purchased at a vending machine and the lunch we picked up at the largest grocery store we’ve seen in Japan. We rode through rice fields and stopped at ancient sights – shrines, temples, and burial mounds. It was overcast at the start, then the rain started so we skipped a few sights in the second half. It was only one train back from Araki, our endpoint, to Kurashiki.
Back in town we strolled along the canal, picking up peach cider to drink with crepes served like ice cream cones. My strawberry, chocolate, custard combo is the best dessert I’ve had in Japan.