I recently visited Kurashiki for a reunion with two old friends of mine who grew up in Kurashiki. Let me call one friend Kawa-San (resides in Kurashiki), and the other Tani-san (from Kyoto). They were classmates at both Kurashiki junior and senior high schools. I came to know the two separately through two different employers I worked for. Very rarely did I become well acquainted with anyone that I knew when I lived in Japan. I met Kawa-san in New York and Tani-san in San Diego. My name probably came up during their conversation and developed into a triangular friendship. Late last year, Kawa-san proposed a reunion. Tani-san and I seconded but it took time to set the date. It was this summer when all three of us finally agreed to meet on a weekend in September.
The reunion took place at a hotel lobby. After lengthy chatting and a luncheon, we strolled along the Kurashiki art arcade and visited Ohara Art Museum, the nations’ first authentic art museum built by Magosaburo Ohara (1880-1943), an entrepreneur and philanthropist. We spent the rest of the day there. I have visited Okayama (about 15 minute away by train from Kurashiki) often for Toastmasters events but It was my first time visiting Kurashiki and Ohara Museum and I was excited.
The complex is divided into five areas (see the complex chart above), named clockwise from A to E, where Mitsubishi Auto, which settled there before the war, is designated as A. B is centered around the East Mizushima Station, now turned into an exclusively container freight train station, with its nearby port facility. Area C or Kojima Shionasu area, is occupied by Sanoyasu (shipbuilder) at the tip. D is on the delta land reclamation area with a golf course on the south end. E is southern Tamashima District, that includes the land reclamation connected with the Harbor Bridge. The man-made island at E is the hope of the entire complex as the container terminal, where ships like tankers and bulk carriers can anchor alongside the wharf. There are 30 or more companies located at each of the five zones, nearly 200 companies in total that includes chemical, gas and oil, power, steel, autos and others coexisting together in the complex. There are companies straddling multiple zones - Mitsubishi Chemical over B and C, JXTG Energy A and C, and Mitsubishi Auto A, C and E. The production output is reported to be half of that of Okayama prefecture.
Kawa-san, supervises 100 people daily serving engineering and maintenance works for industries in the complex since his father’s days. He must be awfully busy.
To conclude day 2, all three of us sat together at noon at the Washuzan lookout point in Kojima to enjoy a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and the entire span of the Seto Ohashi Bridge and pledged another reunion in the near future.