We were a bit confused about which Shinkansen to take from central Hiroshima, the 9.48 or 10.10, and decided to follow the written itinerary and take the 10.10. When we saw the 9.48 pull out we realised we should have been on that (it would leave Higashi-Hiroshima at 10.10 and central Hiroshima at 9.48. Luckily that was a slow train and the 10.10 from central Hiroshima was a fast express and so we arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule at Okayama. Sarah and I felt a bit queasy, probably the train but we blamed it on the peach flavoured Kit Kat with the seasonal cherry blossom box.
We used our early arrival to drop our bags our at Granvia Okayama [Granvia number 2]. Then met Professor Kimura back at the Shinkansen station. Today was a graduation day at Okayama University and so the Department was very quiet, but it was also the one day of the year that we could see the graduands wearing kimono around the campus and even in the labs. Very expensive lab coats! Most of the men were wearing dark suits but there were a couple wearing kimono.
We had a fish bento for lunch, apart from Rob who had exceeded his fish limits and had pork and rice, with some sweetcorn soup.
We gave a good lecture and had a a lot of question afterwards and interest in the journals. Professor Kimura introduced us to the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Adachi, who arranged for us to visit the campus library. Professor Kimura gave us a brief introduction to his research, that was very interesting.
Met Hiroyuki Takeshita at the library and received a tour of the building, including the online system for accessing e-journals.
From there to the ancient and famous Koraku-en gardens. We were lucky to make it in as it closed at 5pm, but we managed a quick 15 stroll around the gardens.
There were lovely views of Okayama Castle, called the Crow Castle because it is black. Visting this garden made us really feel like we were in Japan! We were too early for the cherry blossom display but currently there is a photo update on the Koraku-en official web site showing the latest ‘bud status’.
We freshened up back at the hotel and then went out to a local restuarant, it seemed to be a favourite of the labs. We had a lovely, varied Japanese meal, including sashimi of a local fish only eaten in Okayama (lovely) and lots of small soft-shelled crayfish tempura (although I had to eat the moby dick of the crayfish which was a crunchy three-bite snack). We had some little kebab skewers that were very tasty and which I forgotten the name for. About 9pm lots of people from the lab arrived as part of their round of bar-crawling after their graduation. The noise and chat went up a step and we had a great evening. Sarah and I left Rob with some of the group seeking out a karaoke bar. Report on this to follow.