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Day Trip Ideas: Katsuyama

23,Aug 2015 Day Trip Ideas

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If you have visited Japan, or been to a Japanese establishment overseas, chances are that you have seen noren before. Noren are traditional Japanese dividers made from fabric, and they are usually dyed and have a special pattern or symbol on them. They come in various shapes and sizes, and have different uses, such as displaying a shop logo, protecting the storefront from the elements, or even preventing smoke and smells from escaping the kitchen to other areas.

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Katsuyama Town in Okayama Preferecture is famous for noren. In the special historic preservation district of the town, it is possible to see a whole range of noren – all carefully handmade from scratch by local dye artist Yoko Kano – hanging in front of the buildings. In addition, many of the buildings in this district were built during the Edo period, and they work in harmony with the noren to produce a nostalgic atmosphere evocative of the tranquil past.

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Architecture and noren are not the only things connecting this town to history. Katsuyama is also home to a feudal lord’s residence, which was built in 1764 and remains standing until now. The residence has been preserved and now displays the armor, weapons, and other relics of the Samurai life for visitors to see. There is also the Katsuyama local museum, which houses many objects from the Sengoku period, as well as artifacts related to the Japanese novelist Tanizaki Junichiro. Other than this, the town is also known for the Doll Festival (hinamatsuri) in Spring, and the fighting festival in Autumn, which we highly recommend if you are interested in traditional Japanese festivals in the rural countryside.

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The beauty and serenity of the town has led to it being chosen as one of the top 100 strolling areas in Japan. Why not come and experience a likeness of how life might have been like a century ago? And if you are taken with the noren, it is also possible to buy handmade and hand-dyed noren, as well as other Japanese artisan products, from shops in the area.

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It takes up to 1.5 hours to drive to Katsuyama from Kifu no Sato. It is also possible to reach Katsuyama by public transport in about 2 hours. Near Katsuyama is the famous Kanba Falls, or Kanba no Taki (神庭の滝), which is easy to reach by either car or taxi. We highly recommend combining both Katsuyama and Kanba Falls in your day trip if you intend to visit the area. If you would like more information, feel free to get in touch with Kifu no Sato.

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