||Several places in Japan I've seen the practice
of covering over a street to turn it into a shopping district, but I hadn't
run into anything as extensive as this street in Okayama. Walking through
the shopping street took me most of the way back from Kourakuen Gardens
to the eki. It was probably 25+ blocks of Okayama. It's actually on the
city map that they have at the tourist information center.
||At one point pretentiousness takes
over, and the street tries to create a medieval cathedral theme, with ogival
arches (left), and pseudo-stained-glass pseudo-rosary windows (right) --
all in Buddhist/Shinto Japan.
|In general the street has the assortment of shops
you'd find in any Japanese shopping district -- lots of women's clothing
stores, housewares, cameras, an arcade or two, a pachinko parlor every few
blocks. However, this one caught my eye; at first, I thought it was
a shop for buying cabinets in which to place urns containing the ashes
of your dearly departed. But readers of the site have filled me in on
the truth: they're little family shrines, apparently called o-butsudons,
which typically contain a statue of the Buddha and small tablatures with
the names of departed relatives on them. At least I was on the right track...