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During the Edo Period (1603-1867), Kurashiki was an important point along the distribution route of Japan's most important commodity, rice. Large quantities of rice from the surrounding area were brought into Kurashiki and intermediately stored there in storehouses before being shipped to Osaka and Edo. Because of the city's importance in the rice trade, Kurashiki was put under direct control of the shogunate, and the city was even named after its many storehouses (kura).

Canals were built to allow boats and barges to navigate between the city's storehouses and the nearby port. A central section of the city's former canal system has been preserved in the Bikan Historical Quarter (q~ϒn, Kurashiki Bikan Chiku). The weeping willow trees that line the canal and the stone bridges that cross over the water make for a picturesque scene.

Along the canal, there are many of the original storehouses that were so central to the city's identity. Recognizable by their white walls and black tiles, the former storehouses have been converted into cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops and a number of museums:

Ohara Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Mondays (unless Monday is a national holiday), Dec 28 to 31
Admission: 1500 yen (includes entrance to the Kojima Museum)
Typical Visit Duration: 30-60 minutes
The Ohara Museum is not a converted storehouse, but was built in 1930 specifically as the first museum of Western art in Japan. It houses an impressive collection of Western masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, El Greco, Gauguin, Modigliani, Rodin, Klee, Pollock and Kandinsky. English audio guides are available free of charge

Museum of Folkcraft

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:15 from December to February),
Admission ends 15 minutes before closing time
Closed: Mondays (unless Monday is a national holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 1
Admission: 1000 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 10-20 minutes
When the Museum of Folkcraft was built in 1948, it was the second folkcraft museum in Japan and the first of Kurashiki's storehouses to be converted into a museum. Examples of everyday items from across Japan are displayed, including textiles, ceramics, lacquerware, etc.

Toy Museum

Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: January 1
Admission: 400 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 10-15 minutes
The toy museum consists of a number of converted storehouse buildings. There are four main display rooms, which feature examples of old toys from all of Japan's 47 prefectures. One room is devoted to variations of the popular daruma doll. There are also shops and a cafe.

Archaeological Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays (except national holidays),
December 27 to January 2
Admission: 500 yen
Typical Visit Duration: 10-15 minutes
The Archaeological Museum was opened in 1950 in a converted storehouse, and explores the early history of Japan. There are about 700 examples of pottery and other artefacts from early Japanese civilization, mainly from the region around Kurashiki.

Storehouse Shopping Street

Varies by shop; typically 10:00 to 18:00
Closed: Varies by shop
One block away from the canal, a shopping street runs parallel to the canal. Shops, cafes and restaurants, can be found along here, many housed in historic buildings, offering a quieter place to rest compared to the canal area. Many stores are helmed by young people, projecting a trendy vibe in a traditional setting.

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding

Getting there and around

The canal area is a 10-15 minute walk from Kurashiki Station's south exit. A main road, Motomachi-dori, leads south from the station to the canal area, but walking through the parallel shopping arcade is more enjoyable and almost as fast.

Travelers, who would rather not walk from the station, can take a bus to the Ohara Bijutsukan bus stop (2 minutes, 170 yen), which is located just beside the Ohara Museum.

How to get to and around Kurashiki

Hotels around Kurashiki

Top rated in Kurashiki
Budget:
    • Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn
      Budget-friendly
      Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn offers Japanese-style rooms and dorm beds in the centre of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. It features an air conditioned common space, a restaurant with air conditioning and kotatsu (leg-warming table) and free WiFi. Other facilities include a shared refrigerator, microwave and electric kettle. Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn is only a 3-minute walk from the Ohara Museum of Art and Shinkeien Garden. JR Kurashiki Station is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute drive, and JR Okayama station is 30 minutes away by train. The Seto Ohashi Bridge is a 30-minute drive away. Rooms have a tatami (woven-straw) floor, on which guests sleep in traditional futon bedding. Toilets and bathrooms are shared. Free shampoo and body soap are provided. Guests at Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn can use the washing machine at a charge, and buy detergent on site. Also, toothbrush sets and shaving kits are available at a charge. Guests can also bring food from outside. A convenience shop can be found a 3-minute walk away.
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    • Ryori Ryokan Tsurugata
      Luxury
      Located in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, Ryori Ryokan Tsurugata offers Japanese-style accommodations in a historical building from the Edo period. Free Wi-Fi is available at the public areas and guests can relax in the public baths. JR Kurashiki Train Station is a 10-minute walk away. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each comes with a seating area with low tables and a flat-screen TV. Japanese Yukata robes and toothbrush sets are provided for all guests and the en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer. Massages can be requested for an extra cost and local souvenirs can be purchased at the gift shop. Photocopying services and luggage storage is offered at the front desk. Guests can look out into the traditional garden and relax. Traditional multi-course meals are served for dinner and a Japanese set menu for breakfast. Meals are served at the guests' room. Tsurugata Ryori Ryokan is a 2-minute walk from Ohara Museum of Art and a 5-minute walk from Kurashiki Ivy Square. Achi Shrine is also a 5-minute walk away.
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    • Kurashiki Base Inarimachi
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kurashiki, a 6-minute walk from Shinkeien Garden, Kurashiki Base Inarimachi offers accommodation with free bikes. This guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom. Kanryuji Temple is 700 metres from the guest house. The units at the guest house are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a kitchen. The rooms will provide guests with a microwave. A rental bicycle is available free of charge. Yumiko Igarashi Museum is a 10-minute walk from Kurashiki Base Inarimachi, while Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is 27 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 20 km from the accommodation.
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    • Kurashiki Ivy Square
      Mid-range
      Originally built in 1889 as a red-brick cotton mill, this historical hotel is just 300 metres from the Bikan Historical Quarter. It features 2 restaurants, a bar and gift shop. The air-conditioned rooms at Kurashiki Ivy Square feature cherry-wood furniture and a flat-screen cable TV. Ohara Museum, Yurinso Villa and Kyodo Gangukan (Japanese Folk Toy Museum) are all about a 5-minute walk from the hotel. JR Kurashiki Train Station is a 20-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride away. Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel is an official Heritage of Industrial Modernisation site. The hotel features an art gallery. Tsuta Restaurant serves Japanese dishes in Japanese decor. Restaurant Ivy offers Western foods. Bar Akarenga pours drinks in a relaxed setting.
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    • Tabino Hotel Kurashiki Mizushima
      Mid-range
      Situated within 3 km of Mizushima Ryokuchi Fukuda Park and 7 km of Tanematsuyama Park, Tabino Hotel Kurashiki Mizushima features rooms in Kurashiki. Featuring a restaurant, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. At the hotel, rooms have a desk and a flat-screen TV. At Tabino Hotel Kurashiki Mizushima, every room comes with a seating area. The accommodation offers a buffet or Asian breakfast. Tabino Hotel Kurashiki Mizushima can conveniently provide information at the reception to help guests to get around the area. Shinkeien Garden is 8 km from the hotel, while Daitsu-ji Temple is 25 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 27 km from Tabino Hotel Kurashiki Mizushima.
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    • Dormy Inn Kurashiki Natural Hot Spring
      Mid-range
      Dormy Inn Kurashiki is a 6-minute walk from Kurashiki Train Station and a 40-minute drive from Okayama Airport. It features a restaurant, free wired internet and a public bath with hot spring water. Air-conditioned guestrooms are fitted with a fridge and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Communal bath facilities are available. The hotel features a large open-air bath and an indoor public bath on the top floor. A coin launderette, massage services and sauna facilities are also available. English speaking staff can be found at the front desk. Kurashiki Dormy Inn is within 500 metres from Kanryuji Temple and Yumiko Igarashi Museum.
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    • Hostel Cuore Kurashiki
      Budget-friendly
      Just a 10-minute walk from JR Kurashiki Station, Hostel Cuore Kurashiki is located in a historic Bikan district in Kurashiki. Each guest room features unique design and stylish interior. Free WiFi is provided in the public area. Guests at the Cuore Hostel can choose to stay in a private room or in a dormitory room with bunk beds. All rooms feature air conditioning and heating facilities. The hostel provides a terrace and laundry facilities on site. Bicycle rentals can be used at an extra fee. Luggage storage service and drinks vending machines are available for guestsf convenience. Ohara Museum of Art is located 200metres away, and Kanryu-ji Temple is a 7-minute walk from the property. Guests can enjoy strolling around the property at the Bikan district.
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    • Hotel Route-Inn Kurashiki Mizushima
      Mid-range
      Set in Kurashiki, within 2.9 km of Mizushima Ryokuchi Fukuda Park and 7 km of Tanematsuyama Park, Hotel Route-Inn Kurashiki Mizushima offers accommodation with a restaurant and free WiFi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who drive. This 3-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space. The property is located 9 km from Yumiko Igarashi Museum and 11 km from Kanryuji Temple. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower and free toiletries. Guests at the hotel can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Shinkeien Garden is 9 km from Hotel Route-Inn Kurashiki Mizushima, while Daitsu-ji Temple is 26 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 27 km from the accommodation.
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    • Vessel Hotel Kurashiki
      Mid-range
      Vessel Hotel Kurashiki is set in Kurashiki, within 5 km of Shinkeien Garden and 14 km of Tanematsuyama Park. With a restaurant, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. The units in the hotel are equipped with a kettle. At Vessel Hotel Kurashiki every room has a desk and a flat-screen TV. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. Staff at Vessel Hotel Kurashiki are always available to provide information at the reception. Mizushima Ryokuchi Fukuda Park is 15 km from the hotel, while Daitsu-ji Temple is 29 km away. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 15 km from Vessel Hotel Kurashiki.
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    • Green Rich Hotel Kurashiki Ekimae (Artificial hot spring Futamata Yunohana)
      Mid-range
      Green Rich Hotel Kurashiki Ekimae is located in Kurashiki, within 9 km of Tanematsuyama Park and 9 km of Mizushima Ryokuchi Fukuda Park. With a restaurant, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. Guest rooms in the hotel are equipped with a kettle. At Green Rich Hotel Kurashiki Ekimae, each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. A buffet breakfast is available daily at the accommodation. Staff at Green Rich Hotel Kurashiki Ekimae are always available to provide guidance at the reception. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Shinkeien Garden, Kanryuji Temple and Yumiko Igarashi Museum. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 19 km from Green Rich Hotel Kurashiki Ekimae.
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