Between a rock and an art place in Kurashiki's merchant quarters
Kurashiki — a town planner’s draft, a cultural geographer’s map of urban growth; from the postwar sprawl typified by the compression of buildings contiguous with highways and railroad tracks, to the painted walls and turrets of Kurashiki Tivoli Park, a children’s storybook theme park, replete with artificial lakes, palaces and a Ferris wheel, to the well-ordered Edo Period (1603-1868) grid of Bikan, the original town.
Kochi sits in the cradle of the southern coast of Shikoku, a city of waving palms and welcoming people. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), it was one of the nation’s most isolated cities, a last port of call before the relative unknown of the Pacific.
Onlookers wait for a sign of movement at the Atagawa Tropical & Alligator Garden. Atagawa's heyday as a stylish hot-spring resort has long passed, but this quiet spa town still retains a particular southern charm.
Although Lafcadio Hearn stayed in Matsue for only a year, he developed a great affection for this castle town and its surrounds, which — far removed from the changes taking place elsewhere — were ripe with tradition, time-embalmed customs, folklore and local superstitions.