The comprehensive guide to Kurashiki! Learn about a famous spot and a secret site. Check out authentic foods and souvenirs.
Kurashiki City offers many attractions; the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, super viewpoints around the city from which visitors can look out upon the islands spread across the Seto Inland Sea; special cuisine and unique shopping opportunities. This makes it a perfect holiday retreat destination for adults. The article below has insightful information of Kurashiki that will help you to explore and enjoy this exciting area.
What is Kurashiki like?
Kurashiki is situated in the southern Okayama prefecture which has a population of approximately 480,000. It is known for its Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter which is lined with white-walled warehouses, as well as the Great Seto Bridge which connects Honshu and Shikoku. Okayama prefecture also holds the record for the most sunny days. Besides being surrounded by Kurashiki’s beautiful natural environment of sea and mountains, you can travel in the area while enjoying the refreshing and comfortable good weather.
The best 5 spots in Kurashiki
In addition to its beautiful natural environment of seascapes and verdant mountains, you can also enjoy the traditional atmosphere of Kurashiki’s classic townscape. There are many spots where you can take in the view of the islands spread out along the Seto Inland Sea. We recommend 5 must-see spots to visit when you go to Kurashiki.
1. Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
The traditional streets of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter feature white walled warehouses, grid pattern walls, Namako-kabe, and rows of weeping trees, creating a beautiful and charming townscape. This harmonious and historic scenery is very popular with tourists. You can browse through an array of fashionable shops that offer Kurashiki Canvas and Kurashiki Denim, the city’s new brands. For a rest, there are several lovely cafes renovated from traditional townhouses. For the adventurous, you can explore the town from a small traditional boat or rickshaw!
2. Ohara Museum of Art
Ohara Museum of Art is housed in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter and has on display a collection of modern and contemporary art works. In 1930, Ohara Magozaburo, a local businessman, established this nation’s first private museum for western arts. The museum holds more than 3,000 works of Western masterpieces, international contemporary artists, modern and contemporary Japanese painters and Japanese Folk Art Movement artists, as well as Asian and Egyptian artifacts.
3. The Great Seto Bridges
These bridges connect Okayama Prefecture in Honshu to Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku. The Great Seto Bridges has routes for both vehicles and train. The bridges hold the Guinness World Record as the longest double deck bridge system in the world. The system offers a spectacular view of world-class suspension, truss, and cable-stayed bridges. Kurashiki also has many interesting view spots where you can see the whole Great Seto Bridge system.
It can be exciting to go on "The Great Seto Bridge Tower Top Experience tour” where you can climb to the top of the Kita-Bisan Seto Bridge. The amazing view from 175 meters above sea level will certainly be unforgettable.
Washuzan Hill is a place of scenic beauty, representing Japan’s first national park, Seto Naikai National Park. The name, Washuzan, comes from its appearance, resembling an eagle spreading its wings. It is familiar to the locals as a symbol of Okayama Prefecture. From Shoshu-ho, its 133-meter-high peak, take in sweeping views of over 50 beautiful islands, both large and small, as well as the grand Seto Ohashi Bridge. The sunsets seen from here, also known for their beauty, are ranked among the top 100 in Japan.
5. Kurashiki Ivy Square
The main factory of the Kurashiki Spinning Mill, founded in 1889, has been turned into a tourism and cultural complex, the Kurashiki Ivy Square. The facility is a reproduction of a British factory. The replicated red brick buildings with lush green ivy vine presents a classical but modern atmosphere.
Adjoining in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a complex containing accommodation facilities, a restaurant and banquet hall; as well as a craft workshop, a history museum, and shops that sell local specialties and souvenirs.
Kurashiki’s popular restaurants
There are many excellent restaurants around Kurashiki Bikan Historic Quarter with beautiful townscapes. Here, we selected the ones you should definitely try during the visit to Kurashiki.
1. Kashiwaya Kobayashi
Just a 4-minute walk from Kurashiki station. Kashiwaya Kobayashi is a restaurant specializing in chicken dishes, famous for its Yakitori carefully grilled over binchotan charcoal. They use the freshest and finest ingredients, including the valuable Tankai Jidori chicken raised at a poultry farm in Shiga. Here you can order your favorite chicken parts, but highly recommended is the course menu which comes with a variety of chicken dishes.
2. Miyake shouten
Miyake Shouten, located in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, is a café that was converted from a townhouse built over a century ago. The traditional layout including doma (dirt floor), kura (a traditional storehouse) and Tsuchikabe (Japanese wattle and daub wall) is unique to an old Japanese house, creating a nostalgic and relaxing space.
The café’s specialty item is a seasonal parfait. The parfait, using seasonal fruit lavishly, looks sumptuous and sure to look good on social media. Of course, it also tastes superb.
The top 3 shopping facilities in Kurashiki
Kurashiki has several nice shopping facilities near the station which allows easy access for everyone. Also, there are stylish and tasteful shops for daily items and knick-knacks in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter so that the visitors can have a fun shopping experience while sightseeing. These are the top shopping facilities to check out when you are in Kurashiki.
1. Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki
Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki is an outlet mall with excellent access just 3 minutes on foot from JR Kurashiki Station. Inside the mall which has a spacious open feel are lined stores of famous domestic and foreign manufacturers of fashion, general merchandise, sports and outdoor goods. One can purchase carefully selected high quality products at outlet prices.
2. Hayashi Genjuro Shouten (Design Market Kurashiki)
Hayashi Genjuro Shouten located within the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a multi-facility complex with a range of “affluent lifestyle” businesses related to “clothing, food and shelter”. The complex is lined with fashionable stores carrying items such as miscellaneous lifestyle goods with practicality and design combined, works made by craftsmen from all over Japan, denim suits and jewelry.
3. Ario Kurashiki
Ario Kurashiki is a large-scale commercial complex, comprising about 100 specialty shops, and directly connected to the JR Kurashiki Station North Exit. It has a wide range of shops, from fashion trends, general merchandise, and pharmacy and specialty shops that offer various services. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés where you can take a nice break from shopping.
Three highly recommended accommodations in Kurashiki.
After enjoying a day of the sightseeing in Kurashiki, you can take a rest in one of the area’s comfortable accommodations. Around Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, you have a comfy choice of accommodations from tranquil traditional ryokans to stylish boutique hotels.
Below are our three recommendations for accommodation in Kurashiki.
1. Ryori Ryokan Tsurugata
Ryori Ryokan Tsurugata is located in the center of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. The Ryokan’s Japanese architecture makes good use of wooden pillars and traditional flooring, which gives it a sense of deep history. All guest rooms are fashioned in a Japanese style providing a tranquil space even in the midst of the popular sightseeing area. You can also enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine in your own room!
- 1-3-15 Chuo, Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture
- 10 minutes’ walk from JR Kurashiki Station
- Official Website
- Official Website (Japanese)
2. Kurashiki Ivy Square
This is an accommodation facility inside Kurashiki Ivy Square. The guest rooms utilized wooden materials designed to provide a calm relaxing theme, matching the environmental nature of Okayama’s comfortable mild weather. Another delightful extra is the Ryokan’s location, in the Historical Quarter, which allows you to rest straight away after enjoying the night illumination scene.
3. Yoshii Ryokan, Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
This unique ryokan was refashioned from a 270-year-old townhouse in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. It is said Sakamoto Ryoma, an influential figure towards the end of the Edo period, was once a guest in this house. Each room has a different style though all are designed in the manner of traditional Japanese architecture. The modern furnishings and items are well matched and create a peaceful space. Please enjoy their Japanese food with seasonal ingredients from Setonai area!
- 1-29 Honmachi, Kurashiki City, Okayama
- about 10 minutes on foot from JR Kurashiki Station
- Official Website
- Official Website (English)
Three most popular souvenirs in Kurashiki
After you enjoy the beautiful townscape and the view of many islands spread across the Seto Inland Sea, it’s time for souvenir shopping. Around Kurashiki, there are many traditional sweet shops of long establishment. Among those, we’ve selected these three confectionaries offering excellent sweet-souvenirs beloved by many customers.
1. Kikkodo’s Murasuzume
Murasuzume is made of a thin round crape-like pancake using fresh eggs and red bean filling carefully cooked without excessive sweetness. As you bite into murasuzume, these ingredients melt beautifully together in the mouth. You can also try to make your own with hands-on instruction at Kikkodo shop in the Bikan Area.
2. Koeido’s Kibidango
Kibidango is a popular local specialty souvenir from Okayama Prefecture. Various shops make these dumplings with their own recipe, but the most highly recommended shop is Koeido, established in 1856. Their special dumpling is made with sticky Japanese rice, sugar, a corn syrup-like sweetener mizuame, and millet flour. The dumplings have a very simple taste and rustic flavor derived from these original ingredients. Their cute illustrations on the package make them very suitable for souvenir items.
3. Cafe-biscuit’s Cigar Fry
Cigar Fry is a very famous and traditional Kurashiki’s snack. It is baked at a high temperature after kneading flour for a long time in the traditional method. This bite size snack has always been beloved by everyone from children to adults. You can purchase a package of Cigar Fry at the Cafe-biscuit in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.
Must-see festivals and events in Kurashiki
Kurashiki hosts several historic festivals that all the locos find very exciting. Here, we’ll introduce you to these must-see events in Kurashiki.
1. Kurashiki Tenryo Natsu Matsuri (Kurashiki Tenryo Summer Festival)
The townsfolk love Kurashiki Tenryo Natsu Matsuri, an annual summer event in Kurashiki. The main event venue is along Kurashiki Central Street and includes a grand dance performance, the daikan bayashi odori. There are more events, too, including a parade with musicians and an exciting Kurashiki Tenryo taiko drum performance.
2. Kojima textile, Great Seto Bridge Matsuri (Kojima Textile Festival)
Kojima City is a well-known textile town. This event is held twice a year, every spring and fall, at the Kojima Boat Race Arena. You’ll find here an array of clothing brand shops mostly from local producers. As Kojima is the birthplace for Japanese jeans, you’ll find a variety on display here; as well as casual clothing, working wear, and practical daily items, etc.
After shopping, you may want to try the delicious and fun local snack, octopus rice or noodles in the Nomi-kui Yokocho area, the event’s food corner.
In this page, we hope that the detailed information we’ve provided will help make your visit to Kurashiki a pleasant and memorable one. The sightseeing spots, specialty foods, unique accommodation and souvenir shops we recommended were carefully selected. Don’t forget to check out Kurashiki’s traditional townscape and the surrounding views. If you have some extra time, we would recommend traveling beyond the Great Seto Bridge, to other interesting spots like Takamatsu City in Kagawa and Tokushima City.