Thank you! Hope it can be useful for you!
Hmm let’s see… my favorite location has to be the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter in Okayama. It’s a somewhat secluded building complex with a classic Japanese architecture and a beautiful canal (that you can navigate by riding a boat, by the way) in the middle. I said secluded because I had to walk quite a bit to reach there and the route wasn’t exactly straightforward. But of course, it’s definitely worth it. When I finally reached there, it wasn’t too crowded either so it was just perfect for me. And so, everything I mentioned gave off this serene, calming atmosphere and I absolutely loved it. In and around the complex, there are lots of interesting souvenir shops too so if you want something memorable to take home you’re all covered.
The bar I visited is among my favorite locations, too. It’s a small underground bar in Kobe called Otohatoba. I didn’t plan going to Kobe at all so I went there simply on a whim. From what I can gather, it often hosts indie EDM music show. I really, really like lesser-known Japanese EDM sub-genres so the music was crazy fun for me. Also, the small size (I think it can only accommodate about 30 people at most) allows anyone to just blend in and socialize without being too overwhelming.
My third and final favorite location is a more popular one, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto. I didn’t like it at first since it was way too crowded. However, once I passed through the main course (the bamboo forest) the crowd dispersed due to the area opening up to more buildings and gardens. At this point, the feeling is not too dissimilar from Kurashiki, serene and calming. My favorite spot here is the lake at the edge of the area (I didn’t remember where exactly, but it’s there). The lake has this greenish, almost teal, water with a nicely paved walkway for me to walk alongside it. While there were main roads nearby, the lake still has a calming rural atmosphere with lush vegetations, animals, and people riding traditional boats.
As for dishes, well… I didn’t try much, unfortunately. I’m sure everyone is already familiar with rice bowls and onigiri and those are what I mostly ate. They are delicious sure but do I really have to tell you to try when you most likely will?
But let me think… my more unique favorite dishes are probably kibi dango and miso soup. I’m not sure what kibi dango is but I think it’s similar to mochi, a chewy, small, sweet cake with various flavors inside. It’s an Okayama specialty so there are plenty in Kurashiki. As for miso soup, it’s simply delicious with its rich umami flavor, tofu, and seaweed. It’s so good that I almost cried the first time I ate it. Now that I’m back in my own country, I still eat miso soup from time to time. Thank god there are plenty of Japanese restaurants here.
Well, that’s all. Sorry if it’s a bit lengthy but yeah I hope it could serve as a useful reference for you!