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
The JR Akō line connects Imbe to Okayama, where connections to the Shinkansen network are available. Trains depart about once per hour and reach Imbe in 35 minutes (¥570).
 Get around
Bizen is a sprawling area, but Imbe is easily covered on foot from the train station.
[add listing] 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.
[add listing] 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.
[add listing] 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.
[add listing] Eat
[add listing] Drink
[add listing] Sleep
 Get out