Kurashiki, A Scenic Town of History

WeXpats
2021/09/16

A charming city where history comes to live, Kurashiki is a compact town with lots to offer. The city’s best attractions are centred around Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, the pride of Kurashiki, which makes for a convenient trip. Don’t miss out on Kurashiki unique denim souvenirs to commemorate this trip. 


Table of Contents


Geography and History of Kurashiki 

Old image of Kurashiki Town

Kurashiki is a coastal town located southwest of Okayama-ken. The Takahashi River runs through the left centre side of the town leading down towards the Seto Inland Sea. As stated in Britannica, historically during the Edo period, Kurashiki was a central area for distributing various products such as cotton, rice, and oil. Remnants of traditional warehouses are evidence of its trading past, including an automobile production plant that was once for building aircrafts. The town also has a hand in textile production.  

※ Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., "Kurashiki"

Okayama Prefecture is well known for its sunny weather, and Kurashiki is no exception to this. There is little worry of your travel plans being ruined by sudden rainfall or a coldsnap. On the contrary, Okayama boasts of its majority of sunny days in a year. Maybe slap on some sunblock or bring a parasol just in case? 

※ Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide: Explore Okayama, “About Okayama

Historical Landmarks of the City

Kurashiki offers a glimpse of historic Japan. With well-preserved original historical sites, it almost feels like you’ve travelled back in time.  

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Stone bridge and white walled kominka

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a preserved area to maintain the beauty and historical canal area. The highlights of the quarter are its white walled kominka (traditional houses), flowing canal bordered by willow trees, and attraction houses. The area is worth visiting when visiting Kurashiki with Michelin Green Guide recognition as a 2 star awardee. 

For a more authentic experience, you can rent a kimono or yukata in summer. Stroll along the canals and visit the shops in a traditional Japanese outfit as you admire the scenic and historical views. Not sure where to get a rental? Try Kurashiki Kimono Komachi that have Kurashiki exclusive denim yukata. As expected of Japan’s denim paradise.

Another recommended activity here is the Kurashiki Canal Traditional Boat Tour. If you are interested, tickets for the 20-mins boat ride are available at 500 yen (Adult) at the Kurashiki Tourist Centre.  

※ Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide, "Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter"

Ohara Museum of Art

Ohara Museum of Art Building with tall Greek columns

Another Michelin Guide 2 star awardee, Ohara Museum of Art is one of the biggest attractions in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. Started off as a privately owned museum featuring Western art, the museum has since expanded to include various forms of art including modern, Japanese, contemporary, and so on. If there is a particular piece of artwork you are fond of, try visiting the museum shop where art replicas are sold. They also sell cookies with a lovely container depicting the museum’s most popular artworks. 

Entrance Fee: 1,500 yen (Adult)

※ Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide, “Ohara Art Museum

Ohashi House

Located a little away from Ohara Art Museum is one of the country’s designated national cultural properties, Ohashi House. The Ohashi’s, the owners of the house, are descendants of a samurai clan in service to the Toyotomi family during the Sengoku period. So that others can enjoy the architecture of a traditional Kurashiki wooden house in its original form.  

Entrance Fee: 550 yen (Adult)

Ohashi House

Kanryu-Ji

Spacious temple grounds and Kanryu-Ji Main Hall

A 5-mins walk north of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a temple well worth visiting. Resting on a hilltop called Tsurugata-yama is Buddhist temple, Kanryu-Ji (観龍寺). A wide and spacious space, Kanryu-Ji makes for a peaceful walk. Built more than a thousand years ago, Kanryu-Ji was 1 of 12 small temples in early Kurashiki. The temple’s highlights include the Main Hall, Myoken-do, and a bell tower.

Access: 

  • 10-mins walk from Kurashiki Station

  • 5-mins walk from Motomachi Bus Station

  • 5-mins walk from Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

※ Kurashiki Kankou, “Kanryuji Temple

Ruins of Shimotsui Castle

View of Kurashiki and river from top of Shimotsui Castle Ruins Hill

The Ruins of Shimotsui Castle (下津井城跡) is one of the most historical places you can visit while in Kurashiki. The castle grounds stretch along the bottom half of Seto Ohashi Kakyo Memorial Park beneath the Seto Ohashi bridge. Once the center of military activity, all that remains of the once splendorous castle are scattered stone walls and a flight of stairs. Prepare some proper shoes as the terrain is uneven with rocky surfaces. A walk up the hills of the grounds will be rewarded with a grand view of Kurashiki and its river.

Access: Shimotsui-Jo Ato Iriguchi Bus Station  

※ Kurashiki City, “Shimotsui Castle Ruins

Kurabo Memorial Hall

Kurashiki Ivy Square building covered with creeping ivy

Kurabo Memorial Hall is a museum dedicated to the start of Japanese company Kurabo. Now involved in various industries including electronics, F&B, real estate, machinery, engineering and more, Kurabo had humble beginnings when it started its business in Kurashiki in 1888 as a cotton spinning company

The building housing the current Kurabo Memorial Hall was Kurabo’s first raw cotton warehouse building. Aside from the building's traditional wooden architecture, the Kurabo Memorial Hall also showcases historical documents, photographs, and other replicas that take you back in time. The Kurabo Memorial Hall consists of five exhibition rooms that give you a glimpse of the history of textile in Japan starting from the Meiji era to the present. 

Recognized by the government on several occasions for its contribution to Japan’s history and growing culture, Kurabo Memorial Hall is a fun and educational experience.

Entrance Fee: 300 yen (Adult)

TIP
Hotel guests from Kurashiki Ivy Square enjoy free admission.

Kurabo Memorial Hall
※ Kurabo, “History of KURABO’s business expansion

Denim Paradise

Denim flowers arranged into a heart sign decoration welcoming visitors to kurashiki denim street

Known as Japan’s paradise for denim, Kurashiki is a must visit for denim lovers and fashion enthusiasts. Aside from its quality denim material, the blend of Japanese traditional wear and denim makes for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. 

If it’s denim you want, head on over to Denim Street where various denim specialty stores are located. From towels to umbrellas, traditional fans to face masks, you’ll be surprised at the versatility of denim and the creativity of artisans when it comes to denim products.

Access: Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter area

※ Japan National Tourism Organization, "Explore Kurashiki's quaint streets and denim culture"

Kurashiki Dining Delights

No Japan trip will be complete without tasting yummy authentic Japanese food. Fortunately for you, Kurashiki is filled with restaurants where you can taste local delicacies.

Denim Street

Denim colored steamed bun

Remember the Denim Street we just mentioned above?

Well you can find cafes with sweets, snacks, and drinks inspired by denim. You’ll be surprised at their denim coloured drinks, ice-cream, and cakes! 

Takataya

Takataya is a yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) specialty store. With an Izakaya atmosphere of casual dining, feast yourself on their delicious juicy charcoal grilled skewers with a jug of beer. Don’t forget to try some of their famous side dishes like motsu (innards) and chicken vinegar. Their bestseller alcohol drink is Umeshu (plum wine) so make sure to try that too. 

Yuurin-Ann

Huddled within the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, this establishment is both a lodging and a cafe. Yuurin-Ann was built in the middle of the Edo Period. You must taste their bestseller, which is a cup of sweet Shiawase Pudding. You can enjoy a variety of their dishes while enjoying the traditional feel of Yuurin-Ann.

Kappa

Listed as a must-eat restaurant,  Kappa should be one of your must-visits while you are in Kurashiki. One of their bestselling dishes is the pork tonkatsu so make sure to order this dish off the menu.

Hamayoshi

Located along Kurashiki Canal is a quiet restaurant specializing in seafood. From sushi rolls to sashimi, fried to braised, Hamayoshi offers a variety of the freshest seafood. For an affordable meal, visit from opening till 14:00 to avail yourself of their lunch sets.

Festivals and Events

To make your holiday even more special, visit Kurashiki during a festival or event to experience the joyous and lively atmosphere. 

Kurashiki Hina Meguri

Male and female hina doll

Although celebrated all across Japan, Kurashiki takes the celebration of Hina Matsuri (Girl’s Day) one step further with the Kurashiki Hina Meguri. 

What is Hina Matsuri? Hina Matsuri is celebrated on 3 March every year. It is a day dedicated to young girls with parents praying for their daughters happiness and health. Dolls called Hina Dolls will be displayed at houses. The displaying of these dolls stem from the belief that the dolls would accept bad luck or calamities in place of the girls. There is a hierarchy when it comes to displaying the dolls, as well as different significances of the types of dolls placed, but that is for a different article. 

At Kurashiki Hina Meguri, you can enjoy a vast collection of Hina dolls along the streets and in selected sites. The event also involves peach flower decorations, themed food, and colored rice crackers.

When: Late February to Early March

※ Explore Okayama, “Kurashiki Hina Meguri (Hina Doll Festival)

Sansai-Ichi

A replica of morning markets as it was during the Edo Period. Sansai-Ichi, also known as Kurashiki Morning Market, attracts a huge crowd of both locals and tourists eager to shop. Vegetables, fruits, craftwork, and more; there is no end to what you can buy at this market. It makes for a great opportunity to witness the local’s daily lives and have a taste of local produce.

When: 3rd Sunday of Each Month

Kurashiki Music Festival

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter comes alive with music during the Kurashiki Music Festival. From traditional Japanese drum performances to funky jazz, classy orchestra and Japanese harp, experience Japan like never before as you are surrounded by the festive mood.

When: Middle of May

※ Explore Okayama, “Kurashiki Music Festival

Tenryo Summer Festival

One of the biggest festivals in Kurashiki is the Tenryo Summer Festival along Kurashiki City Centre and Bikan Historical Quarter. The event’s highlights include the Odori dance featuring more than 3,000 performers, a parade starting from the station, and drum performances. Expect lots of people and street stalls offering festival foods.

When: End of July

※ Explore Okayama, “Kurashiki Tenryo Summer Festival

Takeaway

Kurashiki Canal

Kurashiki allows you a glimpse of the past through the castle ruins, temples, and even a memorial hall. What more is that you get a rare glimpse of the amalgamation between the old and the new as Kurashaki also boasts of modern shops like the Museum of Modern Art and world-renowned denim shops. Surely, a trip to Kurashiki is worth your while in Japan.

Writer

WeXpats
Here to provide a variety of articles from useful information about life, working, and studying in Japan to Japan's charms and attractive qualities.

Our Social Media ソーシャルメディア

Where we share the latest news about Japan in 9 languages!

  • English
  • 한국어
  • Tiếng Việt
  • မြန်မာဘာသာစကား
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • 中文 (繁體)
  • Español
  • Português
  • ภาษาไทย
TOP/ Travel in Japan/ Destination & Things to do in Japan/ Kurashiki, A Scenic Town of History

Our website uses Cookies with the goal of improving our accessibility and quality. Please click "Agree" if you agree to our usage of Cookies. To see more details about how our company uses Cookies, please take a look here.

Cookie Policy