Friday!  Leaving Yakage, quick Kurashiki stop, then North to Matsue!

Sad to leave Yakage and our inn.  Today we check out and take a series of trains North to the other coast and Matsue.

Stop in Kurashiki to wait for our Express train.    The station has some beautiful areas (plus an Old Navy!):


Update from Lauren:  this part of the station used to be a Hans Christian Anderson theme park!

I don’t understand these body parts:

The public bathrooms sometimes provide these practical, yet somehow off-putting ‘baby holders’.


Okayama Day

Our second day trip from Yakage was to Okatama to see the gardens.  It was super overcast, but gorgeous!

En route 

Lauren tells me the above is an ad for a  lawyer. Yes! I now recognize the ‘scales of justice’ on his Seed Pod Hat!
Okayama bus ride

We didn’t know what this said– but it made me vaguely uncomfortable:

 I told Paul I was pretty sure those were the Universal Symbol for Plutonium, but he disagreed.

I wish I’d photographed our humor-iliating lunch attempt at a gift shop prior to starting, but I did not.  Suffice to say it resulted in Paul receiving an enormous amount of food we couldn’t identify, and me receiving one comical tiny ball of mochi.  Again, we got to see the look of Polite Japanese Customer Service Person Trying Not To Laugh.

Just outside the park wAs this beautiful bridge




This is an Artificial Hill:

I know cause this sign says it:




I was perplexed by the Sweeping of The Water

We took a cab back to the station because we were running late for our train connection, and we needed to meet Lauren for our dinner reservation.

On the train back, a miniature human was traveling alone.  We decided she was 6 or 7 years old? She was super sweet and self sufficient, and you could tell even *she* thought we were doing it wrong.

That photo is kind of blurry because I was trying to be subtle and not as creepy as I’m sure this is.



Kurashiki day

Our first day trip from Yakage was to nearby Kurashiki.  While Lauren was at work, we headed out. 

Lauren told us if we leave at the right time, we will catch the ‘children’s art’ train

Kurashiki is a pretty big city, with a beautiful historical section.  We walked from the train station– down the long long shopping street – to the start of the historical section.  Since we spent most of our time looking at shops on the shopping street, we didn’t get very far into the old part before we had to turn back to catch the train to meet up with Lauren after work. 

Some shops and things in shops we saw:


Paul made me eat pizza for lunch, at a place Lauren and he ate before.  Pizza!   It was, weirdly, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.  . 


Yakage, or.. in English..”The town Lauren Lives in”. 

Lauren’s adorable little town will be a home base for three days. We love her town, and we love our inn — although we keep Doing Japan Wrong. 

When we’re not annoying locals with improper slipper protocol —    we’re causing them great amusement with our pathetic japanese/hand signal combos and general bumbling Americanesque–  although neither of us have stooped to the depths of Paul on his prior trip where he shampooed his hair with toothpaste at the local bath, much to the glee/horror of the gentleman who informed him. 

Here are some photos from around Yakage.   


This sign says “to Lauren’s House” (probably). 



The train station





 Most of the rooves (yes, rooves) look like this:
 The bar in our hotel “lobby”

What the heck!  Happy logo on this building – who wouldn’t want to work here!     


Bike rooves!  (Yes, rooves).  


This is the breakfast room at our Inn, where we have butchered many a custom:



these are photos of the area around Yakage

Kyoto to Yakage

Day 2:  checked out of Granvia,  the main purpose of our visit (Lauren!) arrived,  and we made our way down to her town, Yakage, together–  via progressively smaller trains!

I made up for my 622 photos yesterday, by taking about 7 today. 

Sunnier today, at least to start with:

Lauren (our oldest) took the day off work, and trained up to watch us pack up the room.




Related to fire putting out:

Headed to giant electronics store to get my camera looked at/lens cleaned. 

This kept blinking at me, and saying what I can only assume were incredibly rude insults.  

I also bought my happiest phone case ever!!  I can’t photograph it, because it’s on my phone now, but it’s a lovely silver silhouette of an Alice and wonderland illustration. 

We picked up snacks for the upcoming train travel – but did not purchase what is clearly a Spaghetti Hot Dog, but Lauren  haughtily called a ‘noodle sandwich’:

Back to Kyoto station to catch a bullet train to Kobe (train 1).  It was about an hour ride, but I forgot to take any photos.  You’re just going to have to trust me this actually happened. 

Humorous side note:  I recently had to (finally) update my phone iOS to the new version. Apparently, among other new features, it parses ones’ photos and creates a few types of “smart albums”– including one called ‘Selfies’.  (ugh!  A least favorite word- up there with veggies!)

It was on above mentioned bullet train I found said auto-curated album on my phone:


We transferred from the bullet train to a non-bullet train headed to Okiyama.  Again, no photos.  It was super rush hour!  Standing room only, but met a lovely older woman who wanted to practice her conversational English.  She described her visit to America, including the Wonders of Graceland, and Yosemite.  She traveled across the US on (!) Greyhound and some Amtrack.  I can’t imagine the sense of contrast between her transportation experience there and ours here!   The Memphis (or any) Greyhound station alone must make for a fascinating page in her trip album.  

In Okiyama, we transferred to Lauren’s ‘local train’ – one car long.  

Pretty countryside!  

Dormant rice fields

Starting to snow as dusk descends:



    After Lauren broke the train with her 500 Yen coin in the ‘no 500 Yen Coin’ slot, we disembarked in her town – Yakage!

Apparently it rarely snows here, and not yet this year – so Lauren was happy!   Being from MA, Paul and I were also super giddy and enthusiastic! (ha)  But it is pretty!

We commenced our wheeling suitcase parade for a ten minute walk through swirling snow and tiny streets to our AWESOME Inn – which I’ll post/take way too many photos of tomorrow.  

Yakage-ya InnOur room is this one:

After settling in, and familiarizing ourselves with the wide range of footwear (wood slippers, slippers slippers, bathroom slippers), we headed back into the snow to walk to dinner at an amazing Pancake-type food restaurant , which if this were an educational type blog, I would put the actual name of.  

It was crazy delicious.  Cabbage and batter and pork and mochi all cooked down to a pancake/pie thing, with amazing sauce.  

Tomorrow: while Lauren’s at work, Paul and I will explore Lauren’s little town and go to another nearby town!