Kurashiki is a small city in Okayama Prefecture that I loved visiting. It is known for its canal area and has a very charming historic district. It is such a calm and relaxing city that has an otherworldly feel. If you happen to be traveling near the city of Okayama, I really recommend you stop by Kurashiki, you will definitely not regret it!
As usual, before we jump into this list of my favorite places in the city, let’s go over a few transportation and accommodation tips.
How To Get To Kurashiki?
To go to Kurashiki, I recommend using the train. Kurashiki Station is easily accessible through the JR Sanyo or the JR Hakubi line. A single 15-minute trip from Okayama costs 320 yen (around $3).
As you can see, those are JR lines so they should be covered by your JR Pass if you have one. When it comes to moving around in Kurashiki, you can go pretty much everywhere on foot. If you’d like to go on a guided tour of the city, you can book this one online.
Where To Stay In Kurashiki?
If you’re on a budget, I recommend you book a room in the beautiful Cuore hostel, located right in the heart of the city and close to all the attractions we will talk about later in this post. It’s a very clean and neat hostel that is also not expensive at all, and offers double rooms if you are traveling in groups.
If you can afford better accommodation and would like to enjoy all the comfort you need, I recommend you stay at the beautiful Ryori Tsurugata Ryokan. It is located right in the middle of the historic city, on the banks of the canal. You can expect all the features of a traditional Japanese inn with sliding doors, tatami mats and onsen baths (natural hot springs), for your enjoyment and comfort.
If you want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city of Kurashiki and better understand the Japanese traditions and customs, this ryokan is the ideal accommodation option for an authentic Japanese experience.
The Best Things To Do In Kurashiki
- Kanryuji Temple
- Bikan Historical Quarter
- Kurashiki Bikan By Night
1. Kanryuji Temple
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/gniSdYos7ht
Let’s start our Kurashiki tour with Tsurugatayama Park which is on top of the hills that surround the city. In this park, you can visit Kanryuji Temple. You’ll have to go through the torii that you see in the picture above, then climb a few steps to finally get to the temple.
Kanryuji is a Buddhist temple with old wooden buildings, a bell tower and an abundantly blooming garden. I visited Kurashiki during the spring so I was right in time for the beautiful cherry blossoms (Sakura).
In Tsurugatayama Park, you can also visit Achi Shrine or Achi-jinja. It was built around the year 720 by the Achi clan which is originally from Korea. The story goes that they crossed the whole country to found that Shinto shrine. The Munekata goddesses, who are intimately linked to Kyushu Island, are worshiped there. It is believed that the Achi clan crossed the island of Kyushu, adopted the beliefs of the region and imported them to Kurashiki.
Before going down the hill, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful view of the whole city of Kurashiki.
3. Bikan Historical Quarter
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/V4M11rRFuA72
Let’s dive right into the main attraction of Kurashiki, its historical district. It is called Bikan and there you will see beautiful streets lined with wooden houses (picture above). Craftsmanship is very present in the region so you will find many local products if you’re curious enough to look for them!
Kojima is actually the company that produced the very first Japanese jeans back in the 60s and has therefore become a reference in the industry. The brand is named after the city of Kojima, which is also located in Okayama Prefecture, at about 15 km from Kurashiki. The whole region is imbued with the culture and spirit of what jeans represent, and Kurashiki is no exception. You will find many Kojima blue jeans stores in the Bikan Quarter.
And since it’s Japan, things have to be taken to the next level and that’s how things like jeans-themed ice cream and even burgers happen. It’s actually just an indigo blue dye!
Of course there’s “ordinary” food in the city for those who don’t want to jump into the ice cream experience. Kurashiki is famous for its delicious peaches so you need to try some of the local peach pastries. I’m sure they’ll find you before you do! 😉
When you’re done walking around the quarter, you can visit the most beautiful spot in the city, its canal. Walking along this small stream really feels like traveling back in time and you can actually take a boat ride along the canal!
It’s 500 yen (around $4.5) per person and you have to book your tour in advance at the city’s tourist office. A boat leaves every half hour and the service is available from 9AM to 5.30PM. It’s the most picturesque spot in the city and photography lovers will really enjoy it.
4. Kurashiki Bikan By night
If you’re spending the night in Kurashiki, you will discover a whole new atmosphere at night. During the day, you can come across crowds of tourists and it can be bothersome. Come nightfall, it’s an incredibly calm place to just be in. It’s really magical to walk around the old districts and enjoy the silence, the charming old houses and the little lanterns that illuminate the narrow streets of the city. It’s quite an experience, really. 🙂
If you are looking for a nice place to eat, I recommend the Kurashiki Takataya restaurant. The place offers delicious yakitori, which are actually Japanese-style chicken skewers. You can also find fish or vegetable skewers, if you’re not that much into chicken. Not to mention the great atmosphere and the friendly staff of course.
There you go, I told you everything I know about the beautiful city of Kurashiki. I really enjoyed spending time there and I’m sure you’ll also love this part of Japan too. If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below. I do my best to answer comments as soon as I read them!
See you soon, fellow travelers!