Kurashiki, with its population of 483,000, is a great historic city situated in western Okayama Prefecture. It resides on the Takahashi River, which flows in from the coast of the Inland Sea, and is connected to the city of Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture by the Great Seto Bridge.
Perched beside a charming canal at the foot of Mt. Tsurugata, Kurashiki is a seamless meld
of culture and technology, and a bustling melting pot of ancient tradition which is complimented, rather than contrasted, by the ever growing state of the art facilities throughout the historic city. The scenic canal has drawn comparisons to great European canal cities, with locals proudly referring to their city as “the Venice of Japan”.
Originally brought to prosperity by boat trade during the Edo period some 350 years ago, Kurashiki still retains its old charm with its many picturesque streets lined with merchant homes and wonderfully preserved white wall rice storehouses. In fact, Kurashiki can be roughly translated as “town of storehouses”. The preserved canal area, which can be accessed via a short ten-minute walk from Kurashiki station, also dates back to the Edo period when the city served as an integral cog in the rice distribution machine of Japan.
Kurashiki managed to get through World War II relatively unharmed, thus it has retained its old, authentic charm with many of the original buildings open to the public in the Bikan Historic Area. In this way, Kurashiki does provide a unique glimpse into old Japan, providing a snapshot into the daily lives of the working people, where they lived and where they traded – rather than having just preserved or reconstructed temples or other places of worship.
The area south of JR Kurashiki Station is considered especially beautiful and has such been recognized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs as an “Important Traditional Structures Conservation Area”. Whilst the many currently not in use storehouses of Kurashiki have been converted into cafes, museums, and boutiques.
APA Hotel Kurashiki-Ekimae
JR-Kurashiki Ekimae Nishi In Building 7-2,Achi, Kurashiki-city Okayama
Perhaps the most impressive of all of Kurashiki’s museums is the Ohara Museum, Japan’s first museum for modern art, which boasts a massive collection of works by many prominent western artists. Founded in 1930 by Magosaburo Ohara, the historical museum is home to paintings by El Greco, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, and Renoir. As well as laying home to an abundance of western art, the art collection also places on show some wonderful examples of Asian and modern art, with the main building of the museum taking inspiration from elements of Neoclassicism. The museum attracts a constant flow of both Japanese and foreign visitors all year round.
Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel
1-1-44 Chuo Kurashiki Okayama