[Okayama] Savor the Retro Atmosphere of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter with This Walking Guide
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is one of the most popular tourist areas in Okayama, and is well known for its retro charm. Here are some of the top places you must visit when you go to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!
What is the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter?
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a collection of shirokabe (white plaster) buildings constructed along the Kurashiki River. This neighborhood, which flourished as a merchant village during the Edo era (1603 - 1868), retains the atmospheric aesthetic of the olden days even now in present times. In order to preserve the historical architecture, the area was registered as a Protected Group of Traditional Buildings by the Japanese government in 1979. Nowadays, the area is quite lively with visitors and many of the buildings have been renovated into stylish cafes and shops.
How to get there: It is around a 13-minute walk from Kurashiki Station on the JR Sanyo Main Line or Hakubi Line.
*There are also expressway buses to Kurashiki Station from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and other cities.
Check out the official homepage for more detailed access information.
Enjoy These Must-See Sightseeing Spots
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is full of fascinating and unique sightseeing opportunities, such as crossing the beautiful Kurashiki River on a river boat, visiting the Ohara Museum of Art, and more! Here are some of the top choices you can't miss.
Enjoy the View of the Townscape from a River Boat
At the time when this district flourished as a merchant town, the Kurashiki River was full of boats packed with merchandise going back and forth. Now, you can take a boat cruise down the river to enjoy views of the atmospheric townscape at a leisurely pace. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office by the boat boarding area. Check out the official homepage for more details.
Appreciate Famous Paintings at the Ohara Museum of Art
The Ohara Museum of Art was established in 1930 by Magosaburo Ohara, a businessman and Kurashiki native. It was the first private art museum in all of Japan, and now displays a collection of Western art and contemporary Japanese art, including many pieces by world-famous artists. It's truly a special experience to enter the deep world of art while in a historical area like the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter! You'll recognize the museum by its impressive architecture reminiscent of a Greek Temple.
Stop for a Rest at Shinkei-en, a Beloved Recreation Area for the Locals
Shinkei-en was originally constructed in 1893 as the vacation home of Koshiro Ohara, the first president of KURABO INDUSTRIES (Kurashiki Boseki), one of Japan's major textile producers. Nowadays, the property is free to enter and is a popular place of rest for Okayama locals. Both your body and soul will surely be warmed when you look out at the beautiful Japanese garden from inside the home. Why not stop by for a bit of a rest if you are tired from walking around Kurashiki?
Walk Around Kurashiki Denim Street and its Surroundings
Kurashiki is actually famous for denim, and is considered the birthplace of the Japanese jeans industry. There is even a place called Denim Street, which is a mecca for all things denim. You just might be able to find the perfect denim product to take home as a souvenir! Here are some of the best places to visit along Denim Street and its surroundings.
Pick Up Some Denim Items on Denim Street
Along Denim Street, you can find over 700 types of denim goods, including denim made right in the famous denim-producing area of Kojima in Kurashiki. It's definitely a must-visit spot for any denim lover! Cute denim goods also make the perfect souvenir, don't you think? In the take-out corner, you can find steamed buns and even ice cream dyed a blue color that is reminiscent of denim. Make sure to experience the wonders of denim while you're in Kurashiki.
Find the Perfect Knick Knack at Hayashi Genjuro Shoten
Hayashi Genjuro Shoten is a store based around the concept of "clothing, food, and shelter." Sectioned off into 8 different brands, the shop carries denim goods, daily-use items, foodstuffs, and much more. There is also an observation deck on the 3rd floor from which you can enjoy a stunning overhead view of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. It is located within walking distance from Denim Street, so you should definitely pay it a visit.
Relax at a Kominka Cafe
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is home to many stylish kominka cafes (historical buildings that have been renovated and turned into cafes). Why not step into one and spend a leisurely time amid an old-fashioned atmosphere? Here are two recommended kominka cafes in Kurashiki that are popular with the locals as well as visitors.
Machiya Miyake Shouten
At the popular cafe Machiya Miyake Shouten, you can enjoy cakes and parfaits made with local fruit from Okayama. You can truly enjoy an old-fashioned charm at this cafe that is made out of a renovated merchant's home. If you visit, you'll definitely want to try one of their parfaits. The menu (Japanese only) changes seasonally, so you can enjoy parfaits made with the freshest seasonal ingredients every time you visit. In the summer, you can enjoy the Shincha (first tea of the season) Parfait (900 JPY) and the Frozen Peach Parfait (900 JPY), and in the fall, you can enjoy the Japanese Chestnut Parfait (900 JPY). Be sure to order a seasonal treat during your visit!
Machiya Miyake Shouten also sells its own homemade jam in cute, individually hand-packed jars. They make the perfect souvenir! They offer classic flavors like blueberry, raspberry, orange, and kiwi, along with seasonal flavors like fig and even milk! You'll want to spread these delicious jams on some bread or mix them into some yogurt for a tasty breakfast. They also go great with ice cream or pancakes!
YUURIN-AN offers dishes made from local ingredients within an old house that was built a century ago. The signature dish here is the Shiawase Pudding (350 JPY), a local favorite in Kurashiki. The store became a hit recently on social media, with many people claiming: "Two weeks after eating this pudding, you will remember the fun time you had at Kurashiki or Yuurin-an, and something good will happen!" Now, so many people come to eat this treat and wish for happiness that it can sell out, so try to go early. They also sell other items such as Panna Cotta (380 JPY) made with milk from Okayama Jersey cows and a rice dish topped with raw egg called Tamago Kake Gohan (650 JPY), which is made with eggs, rice, and soy sauce, all produced in Okayama. You'll want to come here to enjoy a meal along with dessert while you're in Kurashiki.
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a fascinating place where a historical visage from the Edo era mixes with the modern day. You will surely be charmed body and soul if you visit its retro townscape. By all means, give Okayama a visit and enjoy walking through the atmospheric and scenic town!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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