Kurashiki Bikan is a lovely historical district in the town of Kurashiki. The area is known for the historic canals that once served the important rice shipping business of the region. Many of the original storehouses of the Bikan area were preserved and now house trendy cafes, boutiques and restaurants. Nowadays the canals are used to carry tourists around in the traditional wooden boats and serve occasionally for wedding celebrations. The area also features the Ivy Square: the historical brick buildings that were part of the cotton mill are now hosting hotels restaurants, cafes and museums.
The island of Miyajima is most famous for the Itsukushima Shrine. Not too far north of the shrine is located the town’s commercial center where many restaurants and hotels are located. The sector features many stores selling Momiji Manjyu, a special pastry originating from the island. They come with various fillings inside a maple-shaped outer dough.
The island is also known for the World’s largest rice spoon, made from a single tree, which is located on the Omotesando shopping street. Smaller replicas are sold in the many gift shops on the island.
Downtown Miyajima also features a nicely landscaped waterfront beach offering a nice view of the city of Momiji on the opposite coast. Many deers that are accustomed to humans inhabit the sector and may be hungry for some tourist’s shirt. Be careful!
The Senjokaku Hall, also officially named Hokoku Shrine, is a Shrine located on a hill just north of the famous Itsukushima Shrine. It is known for its spaciousness, and was originally built in 1587 in memory of fallen soldiers but was never completed following the original plans.
The Itsukushima shrine is renowned for its emblematic floating Torii gate. The shrine itself is built over a shallow area of the Seto sea along the island of Itsukushima. When the water recedes at low tide, visitors gain access to the great Torii gate by foot. The island is also sometimes referred to as Miyajima which has the meaning of “Shrine Island” in Japanese. The shrine itself is an interesting complex of many buildings connected by boardwalks supported wooden pillars. The shrine remains illuminated until 23:00 providing a truly fantastic atmosphere.
Japanese are masters at the art of preparing dishes made of raw fish. Sushi, the most popular of those dishes, is prepared and served with utmost care at this small but comfortable sushi restaurant of Kanazawa. Kanazawa-tamazushi (玉寿司総本店) is located to the south-west of Kanazawa castle and Kenroku-en garden in an area featuring many hotels and restaurants. It is not necessarily foreigner-friendly as the entrance nor the menu make use of English so I would recommend this place to the more adventurous looking for the true Japanese sushi experience.
The Kaikaro Teahouse is located in Kanazawa’s Higashi Chaya (East Teahouse) district. Japanese teahouses are traditional establishments where guests may be entertained by Geishas. While most of those establishments are exclusive, the Kaikaro Teahouse is open to the public. The teahouse features many lavishly decorated rooms on the second floor. The visit includes tea and a traditional Japanese desert (Kuzukiri) where noodles made of Kuzu starch are dipped in a sweet syrup covered by a thin gold leaf.
The 21st century museum of contemporary art in Kanazawa features modern art from around the world. The museum itself is an interesting piece of modern architecture with a circular design encircled by glass walls allowing for plenty of natural light to go through. One of the famous exhibit of the museum is Leandro Erlich’s “Swimming Pool”. Visitors can enter the swimming pool through an access from the basement. The pool is covered by a glass ceiling with a shallow layer of water that gives the illusion of a real pool to the observers above while other guests are walking at the bottom.