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▐ OKAYAMA▐ MUST GO PLACES & TO-DO (1): Kurashiki City | #FollowChanwonTo

28 November 2018

 Read more: Okayama (#1#2, #3)  |  Tottori (#1, #2)

Hello Sweeties💕 Welcome back to my blog and today I'm going to share some of my adventure and to-do in one of my latest trip to Okayama, Japan. I never thought I can conquer Okayama this year. I remember early in May, I visited both Hiroshima & Himeji with Smelly. Before I went to the trip, I'm doing research about the prefecture and come upon the black color castle in Okayama. 

I was stunned by the beauty of the castle and I told Smelly that I must visit Okayama next year. Guess what happens next?

I'm here in Okayama Castle. 


I'm not good on describing my feeling in words but you can see my expression on all these photos. I went to quite a number of places and guess it's too much to squeeze everything in once. So in this series of post, I'm going to write as detailed as possible. If you are interested to include this on your next Japan trip, just take note of each specific spot and include it in your itinerary. 




Everything you need to know before visiting to Okayama



For those who visited to Kyoto & Osaka or Tokyo before, if you think of conquering the next prefecture, Okayama would be the one I recommended. It's easy to access from Osaka / Kyoto and Hiroshima because Okayama is just located right in the middle of both Osaka and Hiroshima.

I remember I passed by Okayama on the journey to Hiroshima from Osaka in May. As long as you get the JR pass which cover Hiroshima- Kansai Area, you can enjoy the unlimited rides within all the coverage area. Here's the average transportation time from different origin point.

We landed in Osaka and from Shin-Osaka station, it takes 45 mins to Okayama (via Shinkansen JR Nozomi, if you take other shinkansen eg: Hikari / Komada it takes longer time). If you plan to visit Hiroshima, it's easy for you to drop by Okayama for a day or  2D1N trip too. Or if you ask for all the nearby prefecture to-visit spot, here's the best answer for you. I think if you can have a week - 10 days holiday, you can cover the whole area from Kyoto - Osaka - Himeji - Okayama - Tottori -Hiroshima.

Normally when I plan for my travel itinerary, I first write down the places I wish to visit and then look at the map, plan the shortest and best route to travel. Furthermore, look at the traveling time and how many day I can travel from each specific spot to another one. It's easy and nothing hard as long as you have a smart phone with google map with you. Also, one of the #chanwontips for you is always get a JR pass and enjoy the unlimited rides from one prefecture to another because it's cheaper and the fastest way to plan your travel itinerary.

If you are interested to know where I book all my JR pass, here is the link for you (click here) I always got mine from Klook and remember to check the coverage area and choose the right JR pass that fit with your travel itinerary. There are few types of JR pass, you can easily differentiate by the amount of day and the coverage area.

Masking tape? Washi tape? nani?

There are few things that I love about Okayama. The historical area and the juicy fruits such as peach and grapes are the local famous fruit in Okayama. Lots of tourist came here bought their fruit related omiyage (souvenir) There are peach curry that sold in Okayama and I even went to grape picking as well. Other than that, Okayama is famous of the washi tape and denim jeans. If you followed me on instagram you might already know from the photo I share but there are more than that! Just keep reading and I'm going to tag you along on this journey. 

I landed in Kansai airport in the morning. Next, we took JR from Kansai Airport to Shin-Osaka Station. Then from Shin-Osaka station it took around 45 min to arrive at Okayama. Then from here you can plan which area you wish to explore first.

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| #1 Visit to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

So the first thing we did was visit the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. It's a retro-modern cityscape that combines old Japanese and modern culture. This whole area is really beautiful in white and unlike other old historical street (which is usually brown & wooden), this is full of white-walled house. Okay I should stop here and let me show you now!

📍Kuraishiki Bikan Historical Quarter: Upon arrival at Okayama station, it takes around 20 mins to get here. From Kurashiki Station -10 mins walk to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter


As compare with other historical spot, this is like combine the old and modern culture in a scene. But where is the old Japanese culture? HAAHAHA Let Chanwon show you the main highlight of this Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter! Are you ready? 😏

O-M-G (ps: This photo taken while I'm on the boat)

 OMG x2

 OMG x3

It's real and I totally can't believe my eyes. Can you imagine it preserved until today?!! It look prettier if the sky is blue and less cloudy but still, it's perfect for me. I love the nostalgic scenery and one must to in Kurashiki is ride on the boat along this Kurashiki river. 






#To-do: Boat Riding @Kurashiki River

Believe me or not it's best to visit there in the morning around 10-11am because if you arrive there later than 12pm (like exactly what we did), you will be sad because the direct sunlight make your photo either over expose or too harsh for you to open your eyes and look at your camera. So you can expect all your photo look like this >> 😌 Like the photo above, just pretending I'm enjoying the weather lol


It's inexpensive to ride on the boat. 

It cost only 500yen for adult / 250yen for children. If you have plenty of time to walk around here, remember to take a boat and enjoy the nostalgic scenery along this Kurashiki River that flows in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. It open from 9.30-17.00. Can easily get your tickets at the boat boarding locations and the whole boat riding took us around 20 mins.

Now let my photo do the talking and please self imagine you are now on the boat (with me of course). If not then go book your ticket now and take the real one 😝

Come across and saw this bridge. 
The first thing I told my friends was:'OMG we must stand there and take picture ok?' lol


Well, this photo is one of my favourite ones.
  
Next spotted two of these lovely swans. You know suddenly there is one poem pop up in my mind and I was so envy about people who stay and live around here. How can this even exist and I can never see or experience thing like this in Malaysia. I stand here for few mins just looking at these swans and took this photo with my camera.

Then we walk back to the beautiful bridge to take photo but as you can see, the sun is right above my head. Like what I said during my workshop, it's really hard to take photo under harsh sunlight. Either you can't fully open your eyes or the shadow just make your face look you never sleep for the past 48 hours. Now I can have the example to put on my future travel photography workshop! AHHAHA Seriously I rarely take photo under harsh sunlight and it's painful to my eyes lol. But if you are alright with the sunlight, it's better if you face directly on the same direction with the sunlight then your face can look brighter and less shadow.

One more try still can't get it then...

I better close my eyes lol 😂





#To-do: Enjoy and exploring the Main Street of Kurashiki 

Now, it's something really excited. OMG every part of my Japan post is excited because I always spot the new things and just... I really really wanted to share with you guys. Here's everything you see in the Main Street of Kurashiki included all the shop selling tons of denim items & washi tape! Yes, it's because washi tape is originally born in Okayama and the first birthplace of denim jeans is also in the same prefecture. OMG OMG 😱😱😱


Cute thing spotted 


Also passed by the local history museum.

Next thing spotted in the street. I saw two basket of fruit and I was pointing this to Cheesie because I can't understand what it wrote on the paper. Then, Cheesie told me it wrote 'feel free to take home' and I was like 'What?!'

It's fresh fruit not those like spoiled or expired. It just blew my mind. I thought this only exist in those old drama or in my dream. Feel like giving it a bite because I'm not very sure what fruit is that but I guess it should give to someone else who need it. So I just walk to the front and touched the fruit. HAHAHAHAAH abit crazy and I know it. 

Besides, if you really take your time to go through all the little details along the street, you will see things differently. I found happiness when I bump into something beautiful or when I really take time to admire little things that I spot in Japan.

Look at this 😭 Feel free to photoshop yourself in this photo. It look unreal and I don't even want to stand in the middle to block the view. So this is just the right photo for me. I really love talking with you guys on my blog. Because you guys see things from my perspective and really take time to read everything I wrote. Of course, giving extra credits to all these beautiful photo I took during my journey. You can't imagine how many camera I brought with me. Most of the time I will try my best to take photo & done it really quick and the rest just leave it for my eyes.

Also, I love beautiful cafe like this and right after Cheesie & me, every tourist follow us to pose and take photo at this spot. I enjoy finding photo spot and helping my friends to take beautiful photo too. I really love this trip as I met nice people like Arisa & Reiko and of course, I get to spend lot of my time with Cheesie as well. Been missing her like crazy ever since she moved to Singapore. But yes, I started my first trip to Japan because of all the magazine I bought and also because of I read her Japan blog post. 

Few years after all, we are friends and able to travel & work together. Thank you Japan! I feel happier  to talk with people who love the things I love and have the same mindset with me. It's hard to find but I'm glad I found her and you guys from my blog who shares the same similarity and because of that, you guys are still here.. reading every single post I wrote 😭 #突然感動起來 

Okay, I should continue my blog...

Also, there are few interesting cafe here. Shiba Cafe!! If you are more interested to hedgehog or owls then there you go, spending a whole day here at Kurashiki.

So many cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops here! If you have more time, just walk around and browse at these cute shops. But what really caught my attention was all the denim jeans item. You know how much I love it and I even brought over my jeans jacket and skirt to wear on this trip. Just like the pink denim jacket I wear on this trip. I planned everything but I think I should just bought here and wear it lol. 



First time seeing all these shop hanging hundreds of denim jeans items. From handbag to pencil box or jeans pant, you must spot something you like from all these denim shops. But what even surprise me was the JEANS KIMONO!!! なに?!

Since Okayama is famous for its jeans item, it even come out with the jeans kimono. I WANT TO TRY, I DIE DIE WANT TO TRY. Crying like a baby but yea we don't have time for this. So sad, but maybe next time I will drop by Okayama and just to wear this lol.



#To-do: Wear the Denim Kimono

Now, I just make this as a to-do in Kurashiki for all of you. Really special ok! Because I almost tried on every single color of kimono except black or purple color but this one is DENIM KIMONO. Okay, I make this my next year to-do list. I dont care 😩

If you read my FAQs: Where to rent Kimono & How much it cost blog post (click here) you might already know. Like one thing I like about Japan is most places with the same service share the similar price. Is like almost the same and don't worry you won't get scam in Japan. Everything stated here clearly and when I saw the price of their denim kimono I was like, I MUST PUT THIS ON my body lol.



 Just look at this beautiful denim made kimono. How can you miss this!

After you wear it on can go back to the bridge and take beautiful photo like this pretty girl.





#To-do: Choose 1 out of all your favourite washi tapes here

People might say you crazy but once you are here, I tell you at least you will bought one washi tape for yourself or maybe as a souvenir for your friends. Please just shop and for me the hardest is to choose 1 out of these thousands of washi tapes. I guess dont choose one only, just grab whatever you want ok? #chanwonuselesstips 



If I really look at each of the column, I guess it might take me an hour to just looking at it and pick my top favourite ones. Damn a lot of washi tapes I tell you. If you are washi tape lover, dont say I never tell you first please make some time to stop at here and get all your limited edition washi tape. Yes, dont ask just buy!


W-O-W


1000 types..AT LEAST!

 I tried so hard to stay calm! 😫😫😫😫
🙋🏻‍♀️Me: 'Which to buy? This or that one look nicer? Maybe the pink or...the blue?'
' I guess I should just choose one...but I can't'
'Or I just get these 3...OMG there are another one with sakura pattern'

🧚🏻‍♀️#ChanwonTips: Just Buy so you won't feel regret! Once in a lifetime.

 :)

🙋🏻‍♀️Me: 'Okay! & I'm happy!'





#To-do: Hands-on making the famous Japanese traditional dessert @Kikkodo (橘香堂) 

OMG there are so many to-do here. I will not stop here! HAAHHAAH This is my first hands-on to make the famous traditional dessert. This time I'm making the Murasuzume (a pancake alike dessert wrap with the red bean). 

 This is the 'Murasuzume' 

I tried my own creation ok!! It's damn nice I love red bean and this is by far the best dessert I had on that trip. I guess it's because it's made by myself and I really love hand-on experience thing like baking, doing sushi or even making our own soba in Okayama! 

So this is your experience time guys. If you are craving for dessert, why not making one for yourself?  It's quite reasonable as well. 

It cost 600 yen for 3 normal size pieces and if you would love to try something special, can hands-on making the Jumbo size one. For one Jumbo size, it cost around 1,200 yen.  

I think I better get the normal size one at least I fail once still can try for the next but if you fail Jumbo size then, what to do 😂Eat it!

Or if you very kia-su, you just buy everything well pack in a beautiful box. You can buy this as a souvenir for your friends or family as well. But you know, I love to challenge myself. So yes, I dont buy I choose to do it my own! 😂

Wow, this time round I just have to concentrate on my dessert! Btw, that's Reiko's hand :p Hand model yoooo~

#ChanwonKitchen Time 😏  
看你怕嗎

No joke, mine taste really nice. It's so hard to taste bad because the red bean itself is soooo yummy and I love red bean so everything is just nice for me! The (3) photo I clap for myself isn't? AHHAAHAHAH

To sum up everything for you, it's really super easy even I can't cook I also did it! 

My first ever handmade Japanese dessert 😎👏🏻

Also, have to tell you guys that the reason why I always come back to Japan is because they have the cleanest street ever with 0 trash! Just look at this guys.




#To-do: Try the local famous cuisine @Hamayoshi 浜吉ままかり亭

Every time when I pay a visit to places like this, I will make sure to give the local cuisine a try. Each prefecture has its own highlight, one of the highlights of this restaurant will be the 'Mamakari' fish!

@ Entrance of Hamayoshi 浜吉ままかり亭

If you love sashimi and fish dishes, this can brighten your day. Their tuna sashimi is way too fresh and yummy. I asked them and they told us that everything is fresh from the Seto Inland Sea.

So I thought this is just the right amount for me. Oh yes, just waiting for a bowl of white rice!

The fish dish in the middle of the photo is what they call this as 'mamakari' Some people love it and some might think it's a little too sour for them because this dish usually added with vinegar. It might not be the one for people who don't like sour dish but for me, I'm alright if it's go together with a bowl of white rice. If I eat it alone, it's really too sour for me. So if you want to give this a try then go ahead, no harm to give it a try!

Few min later, more dishes appear on our table. Note that it's a traditional cuisine, usually for Japanese traditional cuisine it's more than just one 😏 Look at the photo below...

HAHAHAHAH It's usually served in small portion & some seasonal dishes as well.


Right after our lunch, it's time to exercise and walk around! It's one of the best thing ever during this trip...which is.. LET'S GO SHOPPING!


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| #2 Shop til drop @Mitsui Outlet Park

I went Japan for so many time but never ever I pay a visit to Mitsui Outlet Park. This was my second time shop at Japan outlet in Japan. The first time was 2 years ago and I remember I went to the Gotembak Outlet together with my brother and friends. But you know guys, this Mitsui completely blew my mind because everything was in sales! Usually it's 20% or 30% but when I'm here it's 50%-70% plus extra 10% off for 2 items and above. nani??

So usually I'm very calm when I spot boutique or shop like this...

Yes, as you can feel from the photo. It's very calm lol


 But what if...you see something like this!!



Girls.. Just feel this yourself. Imagine all of these super good quality clothes are around RM40 or lower than RM100. One point I love shopping in Japan was all their skirt is damn pretty. The printed skirt look really diff compare with the one I bought in Malaysia but most of the time is because I'm always inspired by Japanese fashion & it's why I really really shop til drop here.

But you know what, we only have 1 hour here! 



It's only 2 floors but this Mitsui Outlet Park is connected with a mall. If you ask me, one hour is definitely not enough and I think I shouldn't even bring my outfit to Japan. I should just bought everything I want here and wear it during my trip lol. Who knows this has all my favourite shop.

Since we have 5 of us and each of us has different preference and style. We decided to separate ourself into few group. I can plan and my eyes are really sensitive to all price & things around me but I can't remember all the direction + I don't know how to see the map. So Cheesie will be the one who recognise the direction of the outlet because as usually, it's not small you know. Also when I'm really focus on shopping, each time I come out from the shop I was like 'omg, left or right' lol

So now, let me share my shopping strategy with you guys! aka #chanwontips

First usually if you hold an oversea passport, you can always go to the outlet's info counter to check whether any extra cash voucher/ discount voucher available for all the foreigner. Also, go to the info counter to get the map of the outlet then take 3 mins -5 mins to decide which is your starting point and what you want to shop.

Usually all the map has categories everything based on each diff category such as fashion brand, shoe, restaurant & etc.

Since we have one 1 hour, I hold Cheesie hand and just focus choose and decide which area to shop first while Cheesie will check on the direction and tell me which floor. Yes, just teamwork ok!!!!

As I mentioned earlier, there is a connected mall which just right beside the outlet! We also spend some time simply window shop around see whether it's something we want. But at the end we decided to focus only the outlet as the brand of the mall is more suitable for elder age group & it's more restaurant but less fashion brand. Fyi, the connected mall is called as Ario Kurashiki. Just located at Kurashiki City.

Also spotted the 100yen shop CAN.DO in the connected mall. So yes, if you come to Japan not sure what to buy as souvenir or wanna buy affordable Japanese product, then this is the place for you. Usually near Halloween or Xmas they selling lots of nice deco product and even all the accessories, sock or homeware are really useful too. Just the matter of time lol. I have only one hour so I will just avoid 100 yen because I aim for clothes. lol

Oh yes, to make sure I won't late I open my phone's timer lol.

30 mins later :D I can't hide my excitement lol

 De-stress time! AHAHAHAHA

Can you imagine this only cost for 1900 yen?! Around RM70 😱😱😱😱 It's all the local fashion brand! There are some other shop like my favourite WEGO and all these....

But I didn't get anything from WEGO. I guess I love their accessories more now. And the above 3 brands are the one I really like their autumn collection and jackets. Everything just damnnnnnnnnn nice. Okay I should stop it here if not forever can't finish my post.

50 mins later

I love teamwork with Cheesie and traveling with really closed friends because it's really so fun. At the end we are the earliest one and left 10 more mins we just go to another clothing shop near our gathering point hahaha! Thanks Cheesie for the direction guide. Once we go in the shop, Cheesie go left and I go right then we will tell each other whichever thing we spotted and ask if she want it. Then add our haul together to get extra 10-20% off. 😂😂😂 Please do this again, I want outlet shopping every time I come to Japan! But first, have to bring enough bullet ('money') come to shop til drop lol.


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| #3 Catch the Sunset: Taking a Sunset Boat Tour @Kojima Tourist Port

Not sure when but I really enjoy catching the sunset. I love the view and the color of the sky. Maybe it's because I rarely go from my house other than having trips together with friends or during my work trip. I really like how it feel on taking a sunset boat. It's so relaxing and just keep quiet + enjoy the sunset.

📍You can take the sunset boat @Kojima Tourist Port and the whole ride takes only 45 mins. 1550 yen for adults and 780 yen for children.

I'm ready for it! Let's go



 I'm on the boat now!

The Great Seto Bridge 

 My view




Love this!

To be honest I'm so tired on the first day of our trip. Midnight flight and we landed in Japan at early morning. I only get to take a nap on flight for 3 hours and that's all. But so happy that the first day I still can shopping, eating, enjoying all these activities. I didn't feel tired at all but until on our sunset boat, because the boat make me feel my 'inner peace' and I suddenly fall asleep for 10 mins lol.

 Great Seto Bridge 


So we crossing over under the Great Seto Bridge and it's time to walk out and embrace the breeze.

Photo taken by Reiko & Arisa. We help each other to take photo :p 

 This is me :D


Everywhere is photo spot :D HAHAHAAHAH 

Arisa. Long time never see you and I had a blast with all of the girls on this trip.

So I guess that's all for my part (1) Okayama. Next post I will cover some sibeh ho-liao Honey & Pearl ingredients hot spring in our onsen hotel also the Okayama denim jeans village / town. 

See ya! Love, xoxo.



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