Denim Experience in Kojima Jeans Street, Okayama
Where will you go in Japan if you need a pair of jeans? Of all places that you might consider, the name Kojima Jeans Street most likely will not come up. This might even be the first time for you to notice that such a place does exist.
Located in a reclamation area in the southern part of Okayama Prefecture, Kojima City is where the first denim in Japan was born. The denim industry was developing in Kojima until at some point too many youngsters decided to pursue their careers in the bigger cities, leaving Kojima as a shutter town. But years later, those jeans makers remembered where their roots were and decided to return to Kojima City once again, collaborating with other like-minded entrepreneurs. The result is Kojima Jeans Street – a special neighborhood in Kojima filled with a variety of famous Japanese jeans shops.
To get to Kojima Jeans Street, the first thing to do is to take a train to Kojima Station. As soon as you reach Kojima Station, you will be greeted by an ambiance of jeans. From the station’s stairs to the officer’s uniform, everything is decorated with navy blue jeans – jeans are practically everywhere.
Upon arrival in Kojima Station, there are three options to get to Kojima Jeans Street: (1) take a 10-min taxi ride for about 1000 yen; (2) take the "Jeans Bus" for about 160 yen (5-10 minutes ride); or (3) walk for one kilometer, which takes about 15 minutes. If you prefer to take a bus, make sure you check the schedule as the bus in a remote city like Kojima runs less frequently compared to Tokyo's round-the-clock bus service. It also has a running time limitation that you might want to take notice. You can check the schedule on the bus website (in Japanese).
Kojima Jeans Street is divided into south and north areas. Japanese do give it their all when it comes to developing an area with a special theme. If you happen to arrive in the southern area, do pay attention to the road color as they color it in jeans' blue! Inside the area, there are lots of shops worth visiting, especially for a jeans lover. Pure Blue Jeans, Tenryo Denim, Kamikaze, Union Bros, and around 13 other stores will greet you in the southern part. In the northern part, Japan Blue Jeans, Momotaro, and about 10 other shops are available for you to explore. High-quality varieties of jeans are on high display, making this a true paradise for jeans lovers.
There are not many choices of food around Kojima Jeans Street, especially if you are looking for something meatless. However, one particular restaurant that I found between the south and north areas saved the day. Kibarashi (きばらし) is a small restaurant run by an old couple that serves Setouchi (a city next to Kojima) local food. The dishes come in a set, which costs about 1200 yen – a reasonable cost considering the variety and portions of the food. It also includes a cup of coffee for you to sip after having a hearty meal.
Buying jeans in a shopping mall is a common thing; buying jeans from a jeans city is a whole new experience. Kojima Jeans Street, even though located in a remote area, shows that jeans can be more than a practical apparel we need for our daily life. They can also act as the main attraction that livens up a city with visitors and job opportunities. Do pay a visit and feel the jeans ambiance for yourself!