Tag Archives: Kojima

Ramen magic – spontaneous outing for resto’s anniversary

We picked up Ichiro from preschool and came to our favorite Ramen place. {Darling wife is working so hard & im a bit wiped out from trying to stay up with housework}

Somehow the ramen was calling us

&& This magnificent place is celebrating 8th anniversary today with a “one day only” special dish! Yes plz :)

Anyhow, #Peace

We had to kill a bit of time before opening so we hung out on shopping street and visited store selling all Okayama made goods including local sake, Doppo beer, Betty Smith denim accessories, Bizen ceramics & postcards etc Taisho-era painter Yumeji.

Yes, we purchased items. Did not purchase the hat made of renowned Kojima denim as it was “not cheap” but we did get some salad dressing, art postcards, Hot Springs powders, Doppo craft beer for a friend visiting, & a few pieces of special brocade fabric for arts and crafts.

Yes im smitten

This angel is still in her grubby work clothes. She even hauling her wood chipper to the back lot to do some well… wood chipping. She’s so cute when she’s dirty. Oh wait, that sounds wrong ????

Hail Mudhoney, always delivering “this gift”

Yes, I look exhausted, bleary-eyed, spun out, not at my best but hey, look at that Superfuzz Bigmuff T-shirt and that glorious bowl of noodles.

Yes, i am invigorated and overjoyed when with my darling duo!

Oh there he is, the smile comes out once he gets his grub. He’s been coming here since before he was born & has a chance to be the all-time record holder. He’s graduated to his own small bowl with special fork and spoon set.

One day only for this very special sophisticated unique bowl of noodles

Ramen is not fashion, Ramen is art, pleasure, satisfaction, international, tradition, culture (it says so on the chalkboard) and yes, this tiny back alley joint is Michelin guide listed so if you’re into car tyres, this place was properly evaluated / a very special bowl today.

Congratulations on eight years of awesomeness. We wished him at least 50 more

Us and the super grateful ramen boss. He’s a delightful, hard-working, soft-spoken and very very serious and passionate about his Ramen. What a pleasure it is to go here!

You can see the location is critically important. As in: Important to have absolutely nothing else around and be hiding in plain sight / not a swinging hotspot.

And you don’t need some big neon sign and giant LED screen screaming at the people, and understated chalkboard with sincere message wins the day

These are important runes

Lest ye forget: Ramen is pleasure, love, smile / such as is written on the wall – so it must be true, the chalk never lies after all, after all

Japan “opens up”* / A few things about #Okayama

* to tourism (not everywhere, not everyone blah blah blah)

Not my photo, source unknown, but it’s so great isn’t it?

If you are curious, Japan is reopening to independent tourism starting October 11 with visa waivers for people from approximately 68 countries/jurisdictions (previously required sponsored business, tour group or onedegree relative visa with a daily limit on total arrivals) still some requirements for proof of 3x vax /negative tests etc. and yes you gotta wear a mask #Airborne but blah blah blah

The gates are creaking open

So here are a few videos (my others) bundled together to share the wonders of my home area of Okayama / Plus usual other ramblings, ergo:

Situation Basics:

Ref: Nikkei Asia “Starting on Oct. 11, short-term visitors will no longer be required to apply for tourist visas. Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free short-term travel from people from 68 countries and regions, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the U.S. And with no need to book tours through travel agencies, it will be easier to visit.”

Oh here’s a photo which looks very *Japan* doesn’t it?

Some requirements about proof of three times vaccination and negative test still required and yes to masks (no whining).

Briefly: its “Okayama” not…

I live in Okayama – sorta between Osaka and Hiroshima, close-ish to Kyoto (but you should go to Kanazawa instead) Not close to Tokyo and not to be confused with Okinawa.

We are famous for peaches and grapes, folktales about peaches, the best jeans in the entire world, my buddy’s goat farm, a lively jazz scene, and some great museums, including the incredible “European sampler pack“ at at Ohara museum in Kurashiki (yes, also lots of Japanese art obviously), also the most sunshine of any part of Japan. 

Importantly, the “jumping off point” to go to the inland sea filled with islands of interesting art exhibits and onwards to the fourth of the “main islands” Shikoku with hidden villages, surf beaches and pilgrimages.

Here’s a starting primer (written in 2019 so you know, could use a fresh up):

Here’s everything except the stuff I forgot in 2019

Let’s Go: “Not-To-Be-Missed Okayama Travel Gems You’ve Never Heard Of”

Oh it’s me, self-proclaimed “Okayama super fan“ talking with the effervescent JJ Walsh on her show Seek Sustainable Japan having a casual fun coffee talk about all my favorite things, a great place to start:

JJ makes really fun shows all around Japan talking to interesting people doing work around sustainable agriculture, architecture, tourism and lifestyle

Demin “Jeans Street” Kojima

Among the wonderful things about Okayama prefecture is the town of Kojima with “Jeans Street” featuring dozens of smallish factory/shops making and selling artisan and/or bespoke denim jeans.

sneakers on powerlines are boring, hang jeans instead

The area was originally known for making school uniforms which still happens but overshadowed by very enthusiastic international following for jeans.

Often hand indigo dyed, various weaves & cuts, endless nuanced options, and superior craftsmanship. Not cheap but these are generational-quality clothing items.

Anyhow, this video is an interview and tour with one of the originals called Betty Smith going back to the 1960s. They specialize in ladies jeans in heritage (1970s!) styles, made by Japanese women in a fantastically interesting factory, with a museum and other supporting attractions/tours etc.

Make sure to turn the CC on for English translation.

Record shops: a enthusiast’s stroll

Onwards! this time record shops:

You know I love records, quirky shops and dig “grassroots” creative productions, as such, this fellow named Michael, who also lives in the same prefecture (I don’t know him), started up a channel to share stuff about records and shops and rice fields and here’s him coming into my erstwhile hometown of Okayama.

Unrelated to the video *but* a great example of the “Obi” paper wrapper and Japanese liner notes you’re find with records here
He seems like a nice guy, give his videos some click

He rides the cool streetcar, checks out a few local record stores – several i’ve visited, several are closed on Wednesday he made his outing – so you can see some of my under-appreciated city and where to score some legendary Japanese pressing/packaging vinyl.

Goat farm, my fave place

This is my favorite place in all of Japan, Mac Kobayashi’s goat farm, cafe, market and music lounge (plus my accidental art gallery :))

goats, not doing yoga, listening to music… Seriously, they love listening to the music

Please watch the video below for more about the goat farm and my pal Mac Kobayashi in this exhibit related video (5:34 mark) and of course my postbox haiku paintings :)

Goat farm starts at 5:34 but watch it all

Memo: The painting was “just the postbox”, then i found a matching mailbox and installed at the farm, wrote the haiku onto the postbox, and then added to the painting to complete the meta circle. oh then made postcard prints and a book and mailed postcard of the postbox to the postbox…

Also (of course there is more):

Throughout this archive, you can find videos about the best way to get from the airport (KIX/Kansai) to here, how to get around this area, a language primer plus all kinds of “field notes” about museums in Okayama and other cities (including faves like Nagasaki, Kanazawa & Toyama + Tottori & Shimane aka Japan’s hidden gems.

I probably have miscellaneous archives of trains, in fact I definitely have lots of ambient videos of riding trains around Japan, and maybe some posts about the fantastic nearby city of Kurashiki &/or the local jazz scene. If I don’t let me know cause I can address these topics. All other topics, probably not, I don’t get out much.

Give me a call, we’ll talk about Japan / video by Trevor Williams (oh, I should share his video about Bizen pottery… really though this deserves more discussion

I have nothing to share about Tokyo or Osaka and a few minor unhelpful things about Kyoto. Fortunately, the Internet is jampacked with stuff about those places which frankly, you should just skip for best experience. I mean, they’re great and everything I guess but that’s where everyone goes and don’t you wanna do something unique and interesting? Sure you do.

Your humble correspondent awaits your correspondence

For the most part, you can rely on the posts being rather sloppy, definitely quirky, rather unedited and only marginally useful.

Okayama Japan Travel Overview on #SustainableTravelJapan

+ from: Okayama Super Fan / dept of propaganda ≠

I was a guest on JJ Walsh Seeking Sustainability live talk show (sept 27, 2021) during a special week about tourism in Setouchi/Chugoku region talking about dear forever home Okayama.

Topics were varied – from Bizen pottery to art islands to custom Kojima denim to grateful goats and most points in between – banter was amusing (she does great research) and spectacles on point ?

Hope i represented well for spirit of Momotaro as i name-checked favourites aspects of living in the “Goldilocks of Japan” ™. Spoiler: my *not-secret* fave is Rural Caprine Farm. Also name checks for Mac Kobayashi & Amy Chavez ++ so many locals businesses & destinations including Katsuyama, Maniwa, various ~shima, the Market & the mystery of Momotaro & utility access covers (Pokéman).

Do consider sitting down with a leisurely beverage and hanging out. Eager to hear what you think.

The effervescent host and Inbound Ambassador said the following:

Continue reading Okayama Japan Travel Overview on #SustainableTravelJapan

Ichiro and Ryoko (and moss and trees)

{You might have seen a sneak preview of this glorious snap but…} Behold! 

Ichiro and Ryoko in a mossy garden love love love

My two lovelies, out in the *wild*, in the olden compound of a salt making family: aged bent trees, carefully tended; moss everywhere; rows of kura barns (previously storing rice, miso, pickles, salt); wood-fired bathtub; dry-fit stone masonry; art (traditional and modern) and artifacts (globes, cameras, phones, scales, accordion etc.) – I purchased a bag of salt, and six postcards which I decorated with their special commemorative inky stamp. 

At some other point I’ll share evidence of the above but for now, I’ll share evidence of my two wonderful humans. In the wild (Kojima, Okayama, Japan). <3