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Now "hanamizuki"  season in OKAYAMA!

hanamizuki2.jpg
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An announcement about the closing of our blog

Hi!

Thanks for checking out our travel blog.

Our blog ‘Discover Okayama of Japan English blog’ is going to be renewed in April, 2012.

For that reason, we’ll close this blog in the near future.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

 

Please look forward to a new travel blog!

Hope to see you soon!  Thanks a lot  
3人と桜  桃太郎と桜

Fruits picking in Okayama

Okayama is blessed with soft and delightful climate.
Thanks to that, we can harvest various kinds of fruits all year round.
My favorites are peaches and grapes which have a good reputation nationwide

 

Speaking of fruits from Okayama, strawberries are in season at the moment
So I’ll show you some spots where you can taste fresh strawberries



I highly recommend a strawberry picking if you’d like to taste fresh strawberries.

We visited Yasuhara kanko ichigoen (strawberry farm)’.

It takes about 40min by car from Okayama station.

 

You can eat strawberries as much as you like within 40munites (1500yen).

As you can see, strawberries are grown on the shelves in this greenhouse, so you don’t need to stoop to pick them

IMG_2531.jpg IMG_2542.jpg

Fresh strawberries are juicy and sweet



I got a big one

This is ‘Akihime’ which is mild and sweet.
IMG_2537.jpg

In this greenhouse, there are four types of strawberries, and each of them has different taste.

Personaly, I’m fond of ‘Akihime’ and ‘Beni-hoppe’ which has rich flavour.


 

Condensed milk goes well with strawberries You can buy it at the entrance.
006補正

 

 

Apparently, tasty strawberries have four distinctive features.

They have vivid red colour, shiny skin, deep coloured seeds, deep green calyxes.
イチゴ 019 
It was really fun to pick them and taste them
They tasted far better than what I bought at supermarket


By the way, this farm closes if it runs out of strawberries.
So maybe you’d better visit there in the morning



Yasuhara kanko ichigoen

Address: 433 Hayataka, Kurashiki City

Tel: 086-482-0990

Opening time: 10:00

Close: please check on the website

Price: adults 1500yen (40min)

Access: 10min by car from Hayashima IC

01415.net/


Besides this farm, we have many other places where you can enjoy fruits picking.

You can pick strawberries in spring (December - May), peaches in summer (July - September), grapes in autumn (August - November) etc… 


Why don’t you try it

 

Apart from that, we have fantastic local specialty of fruits produced in Oakayama.

It’s a fruits parfait, a glass of fruits in season and ice cream

http://www.okayama-cci.or.jp/fruitparfait/  (fruits parfait of Okayama)

  
 

So, shall we try it


We headed for a sweets shop in Okayama City, ‘gelateria Misao’.

It takes about 50min by car from Okayama station.
The way to there is a bit complicated, but it should be ok if you follow small signboards on the road.


Here we are
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IMG_2550.jpg IMG_2556.jpg

Such a lovely shop


 

This shop belongs to Misao farm, and it’s known for its freshly-made ice cream and other sweets.

This is a fruits parfait with strawberries from Okayama.
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Strawberries are so sweet

And the ice cream is also good, it lives up to the reputation


We also tried ice cream, ‘kinkan (kumquat) and ‘cherry blossoms’.

イチゴ 042 
 

Uhh, they are so good


 

It’s really nice to chill out in the terrace seats enjoying the scenery
Momotaro seems to be relaxed, and as well as a dog of the shop.
IMG_2565.jpg IMG_2575.jpg

 
By the way, there’s a cage behind the shop, and you can see unusual birds like white peacocks
And it goes without saying that there are many other animals in this farm 
So, it's the best place for sweets and animal lovers


gelateria Misao
Address: 628 Kitananaku, Minami Ward, Okayama City
Tel: 08636-2-5542
Opening time: 10:30-18:00 (May-September)  
                         10:00-17:00 (October-April)
Close: Mondays (October-April)
Menu: a fruits parfait 650yen, ice cream (double) 350yen
http://www.jelato-misao.com/


Speaking of strawberry, don’t forget ‘ichigo daifuku’

It’s a Japanese popular sweets, rice cake with whole strawberry in it

 

A sweets shop ‘Kangetu-do’  in Kurashiki City is known for its specialty line of ichigo daifuku.
It takes 10min by car from JR Kojima station.
IMG_2329resize.jpg



There are 9 flavours (some of them are seasonal)
2331補正resize

Each daifuku (a rice cake) has bean-paste inside.

The flavour is varied, white bean, red bean, chocolate, green tea, pumpkin… 


What’s more, this shop offers daifuku with other fruits like banana, mango, blue berry, chestnut
IMG_2340resize.jpg IMG_2338resize.jpg
All these daifuku look gorgeous I wish I could have a taste of all…


 

Finally we made up our mind.

Here’s ichigo-daifuku
2515補正

The rice cake is so soft

Sweet bean-paste matches a fresh strawberry...

Pumpkin flavoured bean paste was also nice, and as well as tomato one.

 

Of course, we also tried daifuku with other fruit
IMG_2335resize.jpg 2520補正

They are delicious


 

Oh, just one thing, this shop is quite popular, so daifuku sometimes sell out before the noon.
Maybe you should go in the morning, or book daifuku on the phone

 

Kangetsu-do

Address : 1-7-34 Shimonocho, Kojima, Kurashiki City

Tel : 9:00-18:00 (it closes if daifuku sell out)

Close : Mondays (it opens if it’s a holiday), the first Tuesday of the month

Menu: daifuku  from 158yen

Access: 5min by car from JR Kojima station



I hope you enjoyed our story full of fruits from Okayama

Please try them when you come to Okayama! I’m sure you’ll like them


 

A: Yasuhara kanko ichigoen      B: gelateria Misao     C: Kangetsu-do



大きな地図で見る

 

Octopus from Shimotsui

Shimotsui region in Kurashiki City is famous for octopus
From what I’ve heard, octopus caught in winter is called ‘kan-dako’, and it’s especially delicious

Local people cook octopus in many ways.
Above all,tako-meshi (octopus rice)’ is widely known as a local specialty.
So, why not visit Shimotsui and try octopus


We headed for Shimotsui port where octopus is landed all year round.
It takes an hour and a half by car from Okayama station.
下津井港resize 

                                       ©Hareranman Okayama tabi net
You can see the typical scenery of Shimotsui here  
The brown pots on the ground are the tool for octopus hunting. 


Near the port, there’s a Japanese restaurant, ‘Fukusen’ .
IMG_2344resize.jpg IMG_2345resize.jpg 
It offers various dishes of local octopus.


This is takotako-gozen (octopus course)’. It looks gorgeous
児島 444 


Here’stako-meshi (octopus rice)’.
Octopus steamed with rice and fish stock (dashi).
児島 446 


Deep fried octopus (left) and sashimi (right).
IMG_2352resize.jpg IMG_2349resize.jpg
The octopus is fresh and springy It’s the best ocyopus I've ever eaten 
I’m especially fond of tako-meshi


Fuku sen
Address : 2-8-39 Tanoura, Shimotsui, Kurashiki City
Tel : 086-479-9135
Opening time: 11:00-21:00
Close: Wednesdays
Menu : tako-meshi 850yen, takotako-gozen (octopus course) 2600yen,
     tako sashimi teishoku (octopus sashimi course)1580yen etc
Access: 10min by car from JR Kojima station
      3min by car from KojimaIC
Car park: 30cars
www.fukusen-shimotui.com/



After lunch, we went for a walk around the port.

…what is that I found something hanging on the rope.
干し蛸_旅ネットresize 
                                           ©Hareranman Okayama tabi net
They are dried octopus
It's also a really specialized product of Shimotsui.

Anyway, I really like them as they have a humorous feel


After lunch, we swung by ‘Yoshima parking area’ on Seto chuo motorway.
It’s a service area which has restaurants, shops, parks etc.
What’s more, there’s the observation deck as well
IMG_2507resize.jpg IMG_2478resize.jpg IMG_2485resize.jpg

We found a lot of local specialties in the shop

What I recommend the most is a handmade ice cream (350yen)
We tried wasanbon (a high grade handmade sugar from Kagawa prefecture), moshio (rare salt), sweet potato flavour.
IMG_2492resize.jpg
You can buy them at ‘café Marine chan’
The taste is not too sweet, really fresh.

 
These are local sweets from Kagawa prefecture.
Wasanbon candies (left), Oiri (right) .
IMG_2500resize.jpg IMG_2504resize.jpg
Oiri is considered auspicious in Kagawa prefecture. So people eat it at happy occasion such as a wedding


The view from the observation deck is spectacular
Unfortunately it’s a bit foggy, but you can see beautiful sea and islands on sunny day
2479補正 


Yoshima parking area
Address: 587 Aza Nishikata, Yoshima cho, Sakaide City, Kagawa prefecture
Tel: 0877-43-0504
Opening time: food court 8:00-21:00 
                         café Marine chan 10:30-18:00



A: Fuku sen   B: Yoshima parking area



大きな地図で見る

Tatami

Do you know a tatami mat?
It’s a rush mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms.


Originally, a tatami mat was a symbol of power and prestige, but it gradually became part of people's daily lives.
Now, most of Japanese houses have tatami rooms.
畳の写真 
                                                                                                              ©Takata Orimono

To learn more about tatami, we visited a tatami-beri (the border) maker Takata Orimono in Kojima, Kurashiki City.
It takes an hour and a half by car from Okayama station
If you go there by train, get off at JR Kojima station and take a taxi.
A 15 munite-drive will take you there.

Takata Orimono offers a factory tour and mini tatami making class (a booking needed).
So we booked both of them



A tatami is made up of three components: the surface material, known as the tatami-omote; the inner core, tatami-doko; and the border material, tatami-beri.

As for Tatami-beri (the border), it’s a sort of fabric which is about 8cm wide.
It makes a tatami mat durable, and it also serve as a visual accent when the tatami are laid out on the floor.
Apparently, tatami-beri made in Kojima region captures 80 percent of the market


Apart from that, this company produces more than 1000 types of tatami-beri

For instance...
These are traditional designs.
伝統柄 
                                                                                                                                                                     ©Takata Orimono


And, here you can see modern designs.   They are so cute
新柄 
                                                                                                                                                                      ©Takata Orimono
It's even possible to order your original design.


Ok, it’s time to start the factory tour
Here’s a room where tatami-beri are woven.
工場内部 
                                                                                                                                          ©Takata Orimono  
                                                                           You are not supposed to take photos in the factory.
Most of the manufacturing processes are automated.
Each machine can produce 15-30m of tatami-beri per hour.


Originally, tatami-beri was made of cotton, however, it turned into synthetics these days. This factory is producing both of them though.


After we looked around the factory, we moved to a room for a tatami making class.

There are a lot of items which were made from tatami-borders.
In that room, I saw many stuff I didn’t imagine


Coin cases, card holders and belts
IMG_2472resize.jpg  ベルト
I can’t believe all that  are made of tatami-beri


I also came across tatami which has unusual shapes
IMG_2372resize.jpg IMG_2376resize.jpg
I’ve never seen tatami like those before.

 
I especially like a wine bag and Hina dolls wearing tatami-beri !
IMG_2465resize.jpg IMG_2371補正


Oh, Momotaro is happy to find a coin case with his face
児島 472 


After that, we tried making mini tatami mat
IMG_2379resize.jpg 
These are tools you need.


First, choose your favorite tatabi-beri.
You have a lot of choice
児島 468 
I selected one with cat pattern.


So, let’s start
Ms Takata showed us the ropes at first.
IMG_2383resize.jpg 


Attach the tatami-omote (the surface) on the board.
IMG_2384resize.jpg IMG_2385resize.jpg


Put tatami-beri and herigami (a paper) on the board.
Then hammer nails into the board and fix them.
IMG_2406resize.jpg IMG_2407resize.jpg
Like this.


Fold herigami (a paper) and tatami-beri.
IMG_2410resize.jpg IMG_2422resize.jpg 
IMG_2426resize.jpg 


Turn over it.
IMG_2438resize.jpg 


Fold the edge of tatami-beri then fix it to the board with nails.
IMG_2447resize.jpg IMG_2446resize.jpg
Done

 

 

This is my original tatami mat
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Even though it’s small, it’s made using same materials as a regular size tatami.

It’ll come in useful when I display something like dolls or potteries on it

 

Thanks for your help, Ms Takata
児島 475
You’ll find more about tatami if you join the factory tour.

Why don’t you try it



Takata Orimono

Address : 2-2-53 Karakoto, Kojima, Kurashiki City

Tel : 086-477-7162

Factory tour schedule: ask staff when you book the tour 
                                      (generally it starts at 10:30  or  13:00)

Close : weekends and holidays

Price : (factory tour) free of charge

           (Tatami mat making) 525yen / person

The time required : factory tour   60-90mi
                                
Tatami mat making   2hours

Booking : needed (booking is acceptable until 7days before your visit)

Access : 1hour and half by car from the centre of Okayama

  15min by car from JR Kojima station

www.ohmiyaberi.co.jp/




大きな地図で見る

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