Bizen

View from JR Imbe Station, Bizen

Bizen (備前; ) is the eastern part of Okayama prefecture.

Understand

Bizen literally "before (the plain of) Bi" is an ancient province known for precisely one thing: Bizen-yaki (備前焼), the oldest and most revered form of pottery in Japan. Unglazed and fairly simple in appearance, the pottery gets its cachet from the complex earthy reddish-brown tones that form when the clay is fired. Nearly anything dishes, cups, vases, bowls, pots can be made from it, and according to legend it improves the taste of anything you drink from it. Modern day Bizen is in legal fiction a "city" (shi), but in practice an expanse of Okayama's suburbs and rice paddies. Most pottery kilns and shops, however, are concentrated near the station of Imbe (伊部).

Get in

By train

Two train lines run through Bizen. The JR Sanyo Line has Mitsuishi Station and Yoshinaga Station, the most convenient for accessing the Shizutani School and buses to the Hattoji area. The JR Akō Line travels through the southern part of the city. It begins in Okayama in the west, where connections to the Shinkansen network are available, and Ako to the east. Imbe Station, where the pottery sites are located, and Hinase Station, home to the port area, are the most popular stops for travelers along this line. Trains depart about once per hour.

Get around

Bizen is a sprawling area, but Imbe is easily covered on foot from the train station.

See

Bizen's sights are mostly dedicated to its famous pottery and sword-making. In October, the Bizen-yaki Festival is held near Inbe station, drawing some 150,000 visitors.

Do

Many kilns around Imbe will let you try your hand at making your very own Bizen-yaki. A chunk of clay, firing and shipping anywhere in Japan (overseas delivery also possible) will set you back around ¥3000.

Buy

The town of Imbe seems to consist nearly entirely of Bizen-yaki shops, and the large gift shop in the Pottery Art Museum has a fairly representative array of local pieces. Prices are generally steep, with even the simplest tea cups costing several thousand yen and more complex designs going for millions.

Eat

Bizen has two famous foods; Bizen Curry and oysters. The curry has a bit more of a kick to it than typical Japanese curries. Restaurants serving this dish are scattered throughout the city. The most convenient is probably the restaurant located within Inbe Station. The oysters come from the Hinase area of the city. They're fished from the Inland Sea at Hinase Port.

Sleep

Go next

Routes through Bizen

Hiroshima Okayama  W  E  Une(Ako) Kobe
Hiroshima Okayama  W  E  Ako Kobe


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