shizutani school

OKAYAMA Bizen Signature pottery, fresh oysters, free cycling, and islands to explore

Signature pottery, fresh oysters, free cycling, and islands to explore

Bizen is famed for its distinctive rustic pottery of the same name, produced in diverse forms and prized all over the world.

Bizen offers a whole archipelago to explore, a long cycling course along an old railway line, and a seafood market in nearby Hinase that's particularly known for serving up fresh oysters prepared in a number of delectable ways.

Bizen is home to Japan's oldest public school, now transformed into a garden, and an island nature reserve with great camping.

Don't Miss

  • Eating fresh oysters at Gominoichi Market
  • Cycling on Katatetsu Roman Cycling Road, a 36-kilometer course
  • Picking up some Bizen-yaki, and even throwing your own

How to Get There

Bizen is easily accessed from Okayama Station.

Take the Ako Line from Okayama Station to Inbe Station.

Shizutani School, the first public school in Japan

Where education first went public

Yoshinaga is known for Shizutani School, the nation's first public school, which is now a general education center that hosts learning events for regional children. The tree-covered grounds of Shizutani form what is essentially a Japanese-style garden, complete with an ornamental carp pond, as well as cherry and maple trees. Accordingly, spring and fall are ideal times for a visit.

Famous seafood market with oysters served every way

Hinase is a quaint fishing town with an excellent seafood market called Go-mi-no-ichi famed for its oysters. You can buy directly from the market and grill them up onsite or take them away. There are also a number of reasonably priced restaurants near Hinase Station if you want a sitdown meal.

Explore an archipelago close by

The Hinase Archipelago is a group of islands accessible by ferry from Hinase Port. A 25-minute boat ride will take you to Otabu Island, the furthest out from the port. Otabu has a guesthouse that is a popular retreat for families and groups.

Well-established bridge system

A series of bridges make visiting both Kakui and Kashira Island possible by car. Kakui is a nature reserve with camping facilities, and Kashira has a wonderful swimming beach.

Famous movie backdrop

Hattoji Furusato Village is a picturesque hamlet located in the Yoshinaga district of the city of Bizen. It looks like something out of a Japanese period film, and in fact it was the backdrop for the 1989 movie Kuroi Ame or “Black Rain” (not the U.S. film of the same title).

Take a spin on a 36-kilometer cycling course

Katatetsu Roman Cycling Road is a 36-kilometer cycling course that runs along a former railway line. In 2003, this cycling and walking path was opened to the public allowing for a slow-paced view of the nature along the way.

Bicycle rentals are available at both ends of the course and at various stages in between. You can opt to do the full course, a one-way trip, or just a section.

And of course there's Bizen ware

The biggest draw in Bizen is Bizen-yaki, or Bizen ware, the oldest and most revered form of pottery in Japan. Bizen pottery appeared in the 14th century, but can be traced back to the 6th century. You can find many shops selling Bizen ware throughout Bizen and Okayama.

Bizen ware is best known for its reddish, earthen tones, but comes in a range of colors and styles. What is relatively constant, though, is that Bizen ware is fired unglazed in a wood-fired kiln, using red pine, and usually simple in form.

You can learn more about its history and contemporary revival at the Bizen Pottery Traditional and Contemporary Art Museum . If you're inspired to try throwing your own, visit the nearby Pottery Workshop Mugenan.

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