Betty Smith stands right at the heart of what the Kojima jeans industry is all about. At their museum and village you can feel the history and understand how jeans got started in Japan. You will even come to learn how it was transformed into an art.
Jeans have been made in Kojima since the 1960s and Betty Smith is the oldest maker. A peek through the glass window which allows visitors to have a look at all the stages of jeans production, really helps you appreciate the legacy of this special company.
Opened in 2003, the Betty Smith Jeans Museum is the first of its kind in Japan and consists of two buildings. Building 1 details the history of jeans in the United States and the manner in which trends and techniques were transmitted to Japan. You can see how fashions changed over the decades through the many interesting displays.
Building 2 features further examples of the changes that took place in the Kojima Jeans industry through the years up to the present. There are also models of the production process and samples of the kinds of materials that are commonly used.
The museum is part of a greater jeans village, where you will find a well-stocked factory outlet, a separate Betty Smith brand store and the actual jeans factory itself. There is also a spacious garden area with a free dog-run.
While you could easily spend several hours at the village, keep some time available to explore the sights of Kojima Town. Make your way to Mt. Washuzan for spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea coast and the awe-inspiring Seto Ohashi Bridge.
Get a feel for Kojima’s historic importance in trade and commerce with a visit to the Shimotsui District. Start from Kojima Station and work your way outward, through quaint thoroughfares and side streets.
Access: It is about 8 minutes by taxi from JR Kojima Station.
About the Area
Kojima is a seaside district of Kurashiki City that is perhaps best known for its historic role as a textile manufacturing center. Today, this legacy is apparent in the booming jeans industry. Many well-known brands have their outlets and factories there.
Washuzan is both the name of a mountain and a section of Kojima that offers the best views of the magnificent Seto Ohashi Bridge. There are hiking trails around the mountain, which lead to the summit. Although the view from the top is spectacular, the observation deck provides the most complete view of the bridge.
Shimotsui is the fishing village west of the base of the Seto Ohashi Bridge. It is a wonderfully self-contained and self-sufficient community, where you can get whatever you need without venturing into the world outside.
The shopping street is filled with stores and restaurants and there is even a temple at the far west end. Walk up the steps near the volunteer fire department near the beginning of the street for yet another great view of the bridge from the local shrine.
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