Just a 15 minute drive from my home is a beautiful park and museum that has been dedicated to the father and founder of katakana characters. His name was Kibi no Makibi and he was born in the town of Mabi to a wealthy merchant family who were able to use their wealth to give him opportunities to travel and to live a life where thinking and discovery were possible. Born in the Nara period in the 8th century, he went to China as a young privileged scholar where he studied for nearly two decades. When he returned to Japan he was able to apply his knowledge to develop katakana which is one-third of Japan's writing system.
This garden and museum celebrate his life, influences and the era in which he lived.To get to the park you can catch a train getting off at Kibi Makibi station on the Ibara line. From Kurashiki station you catch the train to Kiyone station (one stop away from Soja station) on the Hakubi line and then transfer to the Ibara line. From Kibi Makibi station you can walk to the park which is about 2km away. You will find yourself walking through a small country town and its neighborhood. I would suggest going to a supermarket or visit a department store basement area where you can find a great selection of food. Get your lunch and then head off to the park.
Upon arriving at the park you will probably notice that it’s empty with only a few cars parked. But once you begin to enter the park you will wonder why more people don’t make the time to come, sit and enjoy a picnic on the grounds. It’s so inviting and there are a number of locations where you can throw a blanket on the ground, sit down and eat. All around the park there are little corners that allow you to experience something new, where you will notice quaint fixtures and fittings that gives the space something special. The Chinese style museum houses a brief history of his life. In another corner of the park is a temple with another small garden. Across from the temple’s entrance is a pond with a romantic arched bridge, a small gazebo and large rolling lawns. The perimeter of the park is landscaped with tall trees and scrubs. Everything you need to make a memorable day.