Noilly Prattle: A step back in time

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A step back in time

         With the blooming of the oHIGANBANA 彼岸花 (honorable equinox flower) the season has turned and the sweltering Japanese summer is blessedly behind us. It's autumn again and one gets the urge to get off the mats, move around and do a bit of local traveling. So it came to pass that a friend of ours was having an art exhibition at a gallery in the first town I lived in when I came to Japan in 1980—Kurashiki 倉敷
         It was purely by chance that I got dropped in Kurashiki to fend for myself (I didn't know a word of Japanese and couldn't read the signs) by my company representative in a beautiful town that time seemed to have forgotten, not to mention that the allied bombs of World War II had ignored as well. 

typical KURA with its black
and white tiles - upper right
         The core of the town is a canal surrounded by buildings that look unchanged since the Meiji Restoration (1868) period. The canal was a river port used to send rice and other goods down to the Seto Inland Sea. And many of the wooden buildings were storehouses and granaries (kura ) used for storing goods before shipping. 

K gallery - little white square in center of photo
(note the black and white tiles on right)
         Today, the old merchant quarter along the weeping willow lined canal area known as the Bikan Chiku, with its distinctive white-walled, black-tiled warehouses is a popular tourist destination in Japan. I lived in Kurashiki from 1980 to 1988. It's only around 15 miles from our present home and we like to take a sentimental journey there from time to time to visit the old haunts. And, this time, to drop in on our friend's art exhibition at K gallery in a small alley off the canal. 
 our Mitsubishi i
         So, yesterday, we hopped into the Mitsubishi i and struggled along for over an hour in ghastly traffic on this 3-day holiday weekend. The return trip was even ghastlier, but I wont dwell on the dark side and just show a few photos of my first home in Japan.

Bikan Chiku - weeping willow lined canal
Meiji period river port of Kurashiki
boat landing - canal rides for tourists in period boats
stone bridge over the canal with a typical KURA in background
traditional  RYOKAN  (Japanese Inn) on the canal
Ueda's coffee house - my old TAMARIBA (hangout) since 1980
Mrs. Ueda my old Mama-san - now 78 or so and still going strong
iced coffee - my favorite
iced tea - her favorite

Buddhist temple precinct on mountain behind our old house
our house in Kurashiki from 1982 - 1988
photo taken from temple mount


Anonymous said...

back from my travels…and catching up. Love, love the photos, Joe. How I wish to return to beautiful Japan.

What is the water in the canals, like? In China, they were FILTHY and the only ones allowed to use them were tourists, sigh.

Charming…why did you leave?

Noilly Prattle said...

Welcome home and to the blog! I missed your comments.

Kurashiki was more charming when I first arrived in 1980--too touristy now. But the canal area is still photogenic and the water is clean enough. I'll have more to say about those years in my new "Looking Back" series.

We returned to the States in 1988 and stayed for five years. That's when we lived in Plymouth and met you guys.