Kurashiki (倉敷市 Kurashiki-shi) is one of Japan's great old merchant towns, with around half a million citizens today. Sitting along a scenic canal at the foot of Mt. Tsurugata, Kurashiki's white-walled storehouses are beautifully preserved and open for exploration.
During the Edo period, Kurashiki did heavy trade with the capital in rice, sugar, and other goods. Later, during the Meiji Restoration (i.e. after 1868), the city became known for textiles. Kurashiki escaped World War II largely unscathed, and as a result, many of the original storehouses, mills, and shops remain in beautiful condition, open to visitors in the Bikan Historic Area.
The effect is delightful — storehouses (倉 kura) with lattice windows share space with weeping willows along the banks of the old canal, which is illuminated at night. The canal has led some overly optimistic tourist associations to call Kurashiki "the Venice of Japan". If not that — the city surrounding the Bikan area is as much a concrete jumble as any other in the country — Kurashiki is still a rare piece of old Japan, one that gives a sense of where people lived and worked, not merely the temples at which they worshipped.
Tourist information can be found at the two main train stations.
- Okayama Momotarō Airport (岡山空港 OKJ IATA), Okayama. A shuttle bus connects Kurashiki Station with the airport (45 min, ¥1,130). Tickets can be purchased from a vending machine outside of the airport. Large luggage is okay; the driver will stow it underneath the seats. Staff at the information booth just beyond baggage claim are very helpful, and will go outside with you to purchase the ticket and get you on the appropriate bus. Catch a flight there, or take a second shuttle bus to Hiroshima Airport (2 hrs, ¥2,100).
Kurashiki is on the San'yo Main Line between Okayama and Fukuyama. The best way to reach Kurashiki from the San'yo Shinkansen is to transfer to a local train at Okayama; the ride takes about 15 minutes (¥320). The few express trains between Okayama and Kurashiki are more than twice as expensive, and will only save you a couple of minutes. However, if you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can take either a local or a limited express; on the latter, hop onto any non-reserved car and flash your rail pass to the conductor, declaring Kurashiki as your destination.
- 2 JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅), Achi 1-1-1, ☏ . 09:00-17:00. Exit the train station to the south (left from JR ticket collection), overlooking the bus depot. Stay on the upper level, and you'll find the office among the shops to the right (west).
- 3 JR Shin-Kurashiki Station (新倉敷駅), 390-4 Tamashima Tsumasaki, ☏ . 09:00-17:00. The Kodama Shinkansen stops here.
Several companies run daytime and overnight bus routes from Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Matsuyama, Tokushima, Kochi, Fukuoka, and elsewhere. Operators include Chugoku JR Bus Company (☏ ). Buses arrive and depart outside the north exit of JR Kurashiki Station.
Most of the sights in Kurashiki are in and around the Bikan area, which is easily reached on foot from the south exit of JR Kurashiki Station — about a ten-minute walk down Chuo-dori or the Ebisu-dori covered arcade.
Bikan Historic Area
Even if you're not interested in the subject of a certain museum, the chance to explore inside these old warehouses and mills might be worth the price of admission. Virtually all of the museums (and many of the stores) are closed on Mondays, which does at least mean fewer crowds and photo hounds competing for that perfect shot at the foot of a bridge.
For a terrific view of the entire Bikan area, head up the granite stairs on Mt. Tsurugata to the Achi Shrine, and have a wander around the park at the top.
- 1 Ohara Museum of Art (大原美術館 Ōhara bijutsukan), 1-1-15 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. The first museum of Western art in Japan,it houses a deservedly renowned collection of classic European and American art, including major works by Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Matisse, and many others. There's another building for exhibitions by modern Japanese artists, which tend to be very good. Set aside some time to wander the grounds as well, with Rodin statues out front, a small sculpture garden out back, and neoclassical columns beatifically out of character with the rest of the area. ¥1300 adults (includes Kojima Torajiro Memorial Hall admission). English audio guide for main hall ¥500.
- 2 Kojima Torajiro Memorial Hall (児島虎次郎記念館), 7-1 Hon-machi (Ivy Square), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Dedicated to the work of the Japanese artist who directed the acquisition of most of the Ohara Museum's collection. ¥1300 adults (includes Ohara Museum admission).
- 3 Archaeological Museum (倉敷考古館), 1-3-13 Chuo-dori, ☏ . W-Su 09:00-17:00. Housed in a particularly lovely old rice warehouse, this museum has Japanese, Chinese, and even Incan artifacts on display. ¥400 adults, ¥250 students.
- 4 Japan Rural Toy Museum (日本郷土玩具館), 1-4-16 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. A collection of over 40,000 toys, although only 5,000 or so are generally on display. Most are show-pieces (and occasionally eerie ones at that), but there are some that kids can play with hands-on. ¥300 adults, ¥200 teenagers, ¥100 kids.
- 5 Museum of Folkcraft (倉敷民藝館), 1-4-11 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00 (Dec-Feb to 16:15). Hosts excellent seasonal and permanent exhibitions of Japanese folk crafts. Even if you're not captivated by the subject matter, the space in which it's housed — three vintage structures connected by narrow corridors and old stairwells — is worth checking out. ¥700 adults, ¥400 students.
- 6 Senichi Hoshino Museum (星野仙一記念館 Hoshino sen'ichi kinenkan), 1-10-11 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Apr-Sep 09:30-18:00, Oct-Mar 09:30-17:00. Kurashiki native Sen'ichi Hoshino was a long-time pitcher and manager for the Chunichi Dragons of Japanese pro baseball; now, as manager and director of the Hanshin Tigers, his open hatred of the Yomiuri Giants has renewed focus. This museum collects some of his memorabilia and career highlights. Adults ¥500, students ¥200.
- 7 Shogi Master Oyama Memorial Museum (大山名人記念館), 1-18-1 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Th-Tu 09:00-17:15, F 09:00-21:00. Yasuharu Oyama (1923-1992), also a Kurashiki native, was an eighteen time world champion of shogi; upon his retirement, he was crowned the 15th Lifetime Meijin (Grand Master) of the game. Free.
- 8 Momotaro Museum (桃太郎のからくり博物館), 5-11 Hon-machi, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. With the figure of Momotaro outside and souvenirs sold inside, it is often mistaken by foreign tourists as just another shop and a cute photo-op, but this building is actually a "museum of mystery" dedicated to Momotaro, the Peach Boy. The museum features a variety of fun and interactive mind tricks that bear no real connection to the tale but are quite fun, especially for children. From there, prepare yourself for a walk through the dark lair of the ogres that Momotaro defeated before ascending the stairs to see some historical depictions of the tale and other items of nostalgia. Adults ¥600, young students ¥400, children ¥100.
- 9 Yumiko Igarashi Museum (いがらしゆみこ美術館), 9-3 Hon-machi, ☏ . 09:00-18:00. Memorabilia and artwork from Candy Candy, one of the most popular manga among Japanese girls and a cult favorite overseas. (There is, however, no actual candy here.) ¥600 adults, ¥400 students.
Near the Bikan area
- 10 City Art Museum (倉敷市立美術館), 2-6-1 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Exhibits of work by artists from Kurashiki, with a focus on the renowned painter Yoson Ikeda (1895-1988). The building, designed by Kenzo Tange, is an odd attempt to reinterpret warehouses of the Bikan area in concrete. ¥200 adults, ¥100 students.
- 11 Insect Museum (倉敷昆虫館), 2-30 Saiwai-cho (Shigei Hospital, 8th floor), ☏ . Tu-Sa 14:00-17:00. Local insects, pinned and displayed for your examination. It's about 10 minutes north of the Bikan area, though, so it's only worth seeking out for serious entomology fans. Free.
- 12 Museum of Natural History (倉敷市立自然史博物館), 2-6-1 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:15. Local flora, fauna, insects, and geology; the star attraction is a Naumann's Elephant, a giant prehistoric mammal from southern Japan. ¥150 adults, ¥100 students.
- 13 Ohashi House (大橋家住宅), 3-21-31 Achi-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. If you've had it with ordinary merchants, visit the home of this family of retired samurai who went into business in Kurashiki. ¥500 adults, ¥300 kids.
Although the Bikan Historic District is the most popular area to visit in Kurashiki, the Tamashima area is the most easily accessible, with Shin-Kurashiki Station, accessible by Shinkansen, as the main station.
- 14 [dead link] Entsuji Temple (円通寺 Entsū-ji), ☏ . Entsuji Temple is famous as the site where the famous poet Priest Ryokan wrote many of his most famous poems. From the temple grounds, there is an impressive view of the factories in the Kojima area (which is quite beautiful, despite how it may sound), as well as the Seto Inland Sea. This temple is also the seventh temple along the Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage route.
- 15 Saisou-tei (西爽亭; Yunoki House), 3 Chome Tamashima (for those who do not know Japanese, a taxi is probably the best option for getting here), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. This is one of Kurashiki's true hidden gems. The Saisou-tei is where local clan leader, Kumata Ataka committed seppuku, which prevented a war from breaking out in the Tamashima area. What makes it so fascinating is that the building has been preserved so that the actual blood stains from the seppuku remain visible on the ceiling; a rare sight. When you enter, you will be given a short tour in Japanese only however, after reading this, you should be able to follow along and see what they are showing you when they point towards the ceiling. Free.
The Kojima area is located along the Seto Inland Sea, served by JR Kojima Station, and offers many great views of the Seto Ohashi Bridge. If you choose to travel from the Bikan area to the Kojima area by train, you can only reach it via Okayama. Take the Marine Liner from Okayama to Kojima Station. Bus #6 from JR Kurashiki Station runs to JR Kojima Station, if you prefer a street-level view while travelling between the two locations. Rentacycles are available and make the region more accessible for those who want to see the Shimotsui area at their own pace and for much less than a taxi ride.
- 16 Nozaki House (旧野﨑家住宅) (15 min walk from Kojima Station), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. This building was constructed in 1833 as the home of Buzaemon Nozaki, a wealthy salt farmer. Not only can you roam about the residence, there are also storehouses on site that contain information and tools related to salt farming. ¥500.
- 17 Betty Smith Jeans Museum (ジーンズミュージアム), ☏ . 09:00-18:00. The Kojima area of Kurashiki is known throughout Japan for its high-quality jeans, and the museum displays items made in the factory and the history of Kojima jean production. You can also buy or order custom jeans.
- 18 Kojima School Uniform Museum (児島学生服資料館), ☏ . 10:00-17:00. A museum showcasing the history of school uniforms and their development through the years. It's located here because the Kojima area produces a large percentage of the school uniforms worn nationwide. Free.
- 19 Yugasan Rendai-ji (由加山蓮台寺), ☏ . A unique complex composed of both a shrine and a temple. The torii gate is made of Bizen pottery. The shrine is a sister shrine to the famous Konpirasan in Kotohira. It is also the 6th temple along the Chugoku Pilgrimage Route.
- 20 Tsusenen Garden (通仙園). A garden that features over 3,000 azalea bushes that bloom during the spring. Like much of the area's attractions, there is also a great view of the Seto Inland Sea from the garden grounds.
- 21 [dead link] Fukiage Art Museum (吹上美術館), 1-3-9 Fukiage, ☏ . 10:00-17:00. A museum showcasing young artists on the first floor and artists from the prefecture on the 2nd floor in one of Shimotsui's historic buildings. Free.
- 22 Shimotsui Castle Ruins (下津井城 Shimotsui-jō). Built as a fort in the late 16th century, it was expanded into a proper castle in 1603. It lasted until the one castle per province edict was implemented in 1639 when the castle was torn down. Today the ruins of some of the castle walls are all that remain. There is also a great view of the Inland Sea and Seto Ohashi Bridge from the castle grounds.
- 23 Washuzan Hill (鷲羽山). A popular place for locals to picnic and relax while enjoying one of the best views of the Seto Ohashi Bridge and the Seto Inland Sea. Free, and large free parking.
- 1 Washuzan Highland Park (鷲羽山ハイランド), 303-1 Shimotsui Fukiage (via JR Kojima Station), ☏ . Usually M-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-19:00, but hours vary. A fun Brazil-themed amusement park, with a variety of rides (including the pedal-powered, electricity free SkyCycle), karaoke, roller skating, ice skating, a swimming pool, and live performances. There are two hotels attached: the Washu Highland and Washuzan Shimoden. ¥2500 adults, ¥2000 children.
- 2 Kurashiki Sports Park (倉敷スポーツ公園) (from Okayama Station, take a San'yo line train to Nakasho station (¥230 yen, 12 minutes) and walk 8 minutes.), ☏ . A large sports park with a variety of facilities for those interested in getting in shape (or just for fun), such as tennis courts, a fitness center, park, and more. Inside its precincts is Muscat Stadium, the biggest baseball stadium in Okayama, established in 1965. Entrance to the stadium is only permitted when events are being held there. The 1500-m running/walking course around the perimeter is popular with locals. Park free; other areas vary in price.
- 3 Kurashiki City Swimming Pool (倉敷市屋内水泳センター), 2458 Shinden, ☏ . M W-F 09:30-21:30, Sa Su holidays 09:30-19:30. An excellent 50-m swimming pool within easy cycling or walking distance of Kurashiki's Bikan historic area, close to the City Office. There's a separate 25-m pool for splashing about in. Like many public pools in Japan, everyone is required to get out of the water for 5 minutes each hour (at this pool, between 25 and 30 minutes past the hour), so check the time before going in if you want an uninterrupted swim. ¥210 for adult swim (plus ¥100 for locker).
Since the Edo Period, Kurashiki has had an interesting mascot known as Suin-kyo (素隠居) that appears at Achi Shrine's May and October festivals. The Suin-kyo are people wearing masks of an old man and woman carrying fans. If they touch your head, it is said to bring good luck. The masks look jovial and most people approach them for luck, but there are always a few terrified children crying as their parents carry them over to grant them begrudging fortune.
- Kurashiki Hina Meguri (倉敷雛巡り). A display of Hina Dolls for the Girls' Festival from late February to mid-March. The dolls can be viewed in historic buildings in the Bikan area, as well as other areas of the city, such as the Kojima, Tamashima, Mizushima, and Makibi areas.
- Kojima Textile Festival (せんい児島). Last weekend in Apr. Held in Kurashiki's Kojima area, the textile capital of Japan, the festival features a variety of vendors with the locally-made denim being the star. There are a lot of fun activities for kids and lots of vendors selling local favorites, such as Shimotsui octopus and the jeans ice cream.
- Heartland Kurashiki (ハートランド倉敷). May 2-6 (during Golden Week). Also known as the Kurashiki Wisteria Story (くらしき藤物語), the festival takes place in the Bikan Historic District. The event features amazake drinking, traditional music performances, and singing. However the highlight of the event is watching the "wisteria maiden", a young bride-to-be, ride on a boat down the canal. As for the wisteria, it is rather secondary to the rest of the festivities, but there is a small wisteria trellis and some wisteria-themed decorations at Achi Shrine.
- Tenryo Summer Festival (倉敷天領夏祭り). First Sa after Jul 20. A big festival with drums and events during the daytime and a large evening parade to kick off the start of summer and the end of the rainy season.
- 4 Kurashiki Language Academy (倉敷外語学院 Kurashiki Gaigo Gakuin), Achi 3-10-33, ☏ . Japanese language courses at all levels to foreign students. Short and long-term programs available.
If you have enough money to spend, you'll find some gorgeous traditional souvenirs to buy in Kurashiki. The city has been producing high-end textiles for more than two centuries, but locally-made blown-glass (ガラス) and the famed Bizen-yaki (備前焼) pottery are sold as well. Cheaper souvenirs and knick-knacks are available in the Ebisu-dori covered shopping arcade, which runs part of the route between the station and the Bikan area.
- 1 Heisuiken (平翠軒), 8-8 Hon-machi, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00. The Food of Life is stocked at this store of delicacies from all over Japan, sold in gift sets. The headquarters of the Morita Shuzo Sake Brewery (森田酒造株式会社) is on the premises as well.
- 2 Iseya (伊勢屋), 4-5 Hon-machi, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-19:00. If you enjoyed the Toy Museum, stop here for a mix of European wooden toys from the cheap & nifty to the expensive & hand-crafted.
- 3 Ivy Square (アイビースクエア), 7-1 Hon-machi, ☏ . Most facilities 09:00-17:00. There is some historical charm in this old cotton mill, built of red bricks and covered in green ivy, but it's mainly here to sell high-end art, fabrics, and other traditional wares.
- 4 [formerly dead link] Koeido (廣榮堂), 1-1-18 Chuo-dori, ☏ . 09:00-18:00. The favorite sweet of Okayama and Momotaro, kibi dango (吉備団子), is sold here. ¥380 for a box of 10 pieces, or ask to sample a few with tea.
- 5 Tenmaya (天満屋), 1-7-1 Achi-dori, ☏ . 10:00-19:00. Directly adjacent to JR Kurashiki Station, this branch of the department store chain has a fair amount of space set aside for local merchants.
- 6 [dead link] Tokeido (陶慶堂), 1-4-18 Chuo-dori, ☏ . 09:00-17:00. Even if you're not planning to buy, you're welcome to visit for this store's regular exhibitions of bizen-yaki pottery by different sculptors, and looking is free. Small pieces ¥630.
- 7 Jeans Street. The Kojima area is one of the largest producers of jeans in all of Japan. All of the local jeans producers have shops located somewhere along the street where you can buy or order their jeans. The "street" is actually two streets. It starts where our marker is located on the map but when the road ends, it continues down towards the Nozaki House.
- 1 Bukkake Udon (ぶっかけうどん). The Kurashiki brand of udon carries influence from Edo-period Tokyo, courtesy of the local business magnates who did trade with the shogunate. Today, Kurashiki natives will tolerate no other noodles. The sauce is served separately, so customers can pour it (bukkakeru) onto the noodles themselves. This popular chain has eight locations in the city, including four surrounding JR Kurashiki Station; hours vary, but the HQ at 2-3-23 Achi-dori (07:00-21:00) is the easiest to find. Look for the distinctive yellow and black logo. ¥600.
- 2 Cafe Biscuit (カフェ ビスキュイ), ☏ . 08:00-18:00. A sandwich shop that is known for its crackers and jellies. It's a good place for a quick, light meal. The crackers and jellies can also be purchased independently if you'd like to take them home as souvenirs.
- 3 La Cenetta (ラ・チェネッタ), 1700 Funagura-cho, ☏ . Japanese pizzerias are famously creative (and sometimes bizarre) with their choice of pizza toppings, but La Cenetta is an exception; chef Sekizen Kohara serves authentic Neapolitan-style pies, made in a small wood oven. ¥1000 and up.
- 4 Misokatsu Umenoki (みそかつ梅の木), 2-19-3 Achi-dori, ☏ . 11:00-22:00, closed second and fourth Th each month. Umenoki serves a Nagoya specialty: breaded, fried (without oil) pork cutlets with a thick miso-based sauce, usually served over shredded cabbage or noodles. Dishes from ¥1,000, sets from ¥2,500.
- 5 Takadaya (高田屋), 11-36 Hon-machi, ☏ . Daily 17:00-22:00. A smoky yet fantastic little yakitoriya (grilled chicken kebab joint) in the back alleys of the Bikan Area. Prices are reasonable and the food is fantastic. No English spoken.
- 6 Yae (八重), 5-14 Hon-machi, ☏ . M-Sa 17:00-23:00. Always packed with locals, Yae serves good seafood and sake, and the talkative staff will be happy to make recommendations. ¥5000 for a filling set and a drink.
- 7 Yasunoya (保乃家), 1-9-33 Shimotsui. 11:00-21:00. This is the first restaurant in the Shimotsui area to start serving dishes featuring the locally caught octopus that has since become so famous in the region.
- 8 Atchan (あっちゃん), 1-88 Kojima Ekimae, ☏ . Lunch 11:30-14:00, dinner 17:30-01:00 (open Su holidays until 21:00, closed M). Famous for its octopus okonomiyaki which uses the fresh, locally fished Shimotsui octopus.
Plenty of bars are clustered around the south exit of JR Kurashiki Station. In the Bikan area, Ivy Square (see Buy) has a nice beer garden.
- 1 Cafe El Greco (喫茶 エル・グレコ), 1-1-11 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. A nice coffee shop next to the Ohara Art Museum — look for the red awning, and the building covered in ivy. Coffee and blueberry pie is the house specialty. It's named for the Spanish artist, whose The Annunciation is among the major works in the Ohara's collection.
- 2 Chouya (兆屋), 2-9-10 Achi-dori, ☏ . M-Sa 17:30-23:00. Food, local microbrews and inventive food (very Japanese) at this friendly pub/drinking hole. ¥3000 per person.
- 3 Coffee Kan (倉敷珈琲館), 4-1 Hon-machi, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Get educated and caffeinated in this beautiful, atmospheric coffee shop, managed by people who are serious about their beans. Brewed by French press, the coffee is served straight or mixed with honey and liquers to make their house "Queen of Amber" concoction.
- 4 SWLABR, 2-18-2 Achi-dori, ☏ . F-W 11:30-03:00. A cozy pub/coffee shop/clothing store (named for a Cream song) located two minutes south of JR Kurashiki Station — look for the green building. The friendly staff serves good food and desserts until 8PM and drinks until late.
Although Kurashiki is an easy day-trip from Okayama, it's worth staying overnight to enjoy the late evening and early morning atmosphere of the Bikan area (without the daytime crowds).
- 1 Kurashiki Youth Hostel (倉敷ユースホステル), 1537-1 Mukoyama, ☏ . Rooms contain two sets of bunk beds and a small TV area. There is also a nice commons area with a fireplace and musical instruments, and meals are served. Pick-up may be available if you phone ahead. Otherwise, take bus #6 to Shiminkaikan-mae (last departure 20:50) and walk uphill for ten minutes. ¥2,940 per person, ¥6,930 for twin room.
- 2 Hotel Alpha One (ホテル・アルファ－ワン倉敷), 2-2-26 Achi, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. A standard hotel with the desk and TV. There are showers in the rooms, but large shared baths are also available.
- 3 Toyoko Inn Kurashiki-Eki Minamiguchi (東横INN倉敷駅南口), 2-10-20 Achi, ☏ . A popular Japanese hotel chain. Singles from ¥5,300.
- 4 Hotel Cent Inn Kurashiki (ホテル セントイン倉敷), 5-203 Shinkurashiki Ekimae (Near Shin-Kurashiki Station), ☏ . A business hotel. ¥5,500.
- 5 Court Hotel Kurashiki (コートホテル倉敷), 2-2-26 Chuo, ☏ . Warm, pleasant rooms with business hotel amenities but American-style decor. Buffet Western or Japanese-style breakfast available (¥1100). Single rooms from ¥7,200, double from ¥10,600 if booked in advance.
- 6 Kurashiki Station Hotel (倉敷ステーションホテル), 2-8-1 Achi-dori, ☏ . Five floors and 111 small rooms slightly more pleasant than the average business hotel. They offer steep discounts for online booking; buffet Japanese breakfasts are available for ¥1000. Rooms from ¥6,300 single, ¥10,500 double.
- 7 Kurashiki Setouchi Kojima Hotel (倉敷せとうち児島ホテル), ☏ . A nice hotel near Washuzan Highland with a large onsen area to enjoy.
- 8 Kurashiki Ivy Square Hotel (倉敷アイビースクエア), 7-2 Hon-machi, ☏ . Small, decent rooms in a splendid location. All of the amenities of Ivy Square (shopping, a restaurant, a beer garden) are on hand. Some rooms face a parking lot and some face a grove of palm trees, so you may wish to state your preference between those two alternatives. Singles ¥10,500, doubles ¥18,900.
- 9 Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel (倉敷ロイヤルアートホテル), 3-21-19 Achi, ☏ . Nice, well-appointed Western-style rooms, with notably spacious bathrooms. Western and Japanese buffet breakfasts are available to mix and match as you please. Singles ¥22,000, twins ¥27,000.
- 10 Ryokan Kurashiki (旅館くらしき), 4-1 Hon-machi, ☏ . A traditional inn, occupying an atmospheric complex of old buildings, facing the canal in the Bikan section. There are various styles of suites — Western, traditional, mixed — scattered along a maze of corridors. Little English is spoken, but the staff welcomes foreigners, and breakfast is available. Guests should arrive early enough to sip tea by the garden and soak themselves before dinner. It's on the left side of the canal as you walk from the train station, at a bend in the canal. ¥28,000 per person including dinner and breakfast.
- 11 Tsurugata (鶴形), 1-3-15 Chuo-dori, ☏ . Another beautiful ryokan, in business for more than 250 years with eleven Japanese-style rooms. The garden, in particular, is pure Kurashiki atmosphere. Stellar meals of seafood (and nothing but seafood, mind you) are included in the rate, and a little English is spoken. ¥12,000-¥30,000.
There are many worthwhile places to travel within the prefecture.
- Okayama — Home to Koraku-en, one of Japan's Top 3 gardens, the Kibi Trail, a variety of museums, and all the Momotaro you could possibly want.
- Soja — A Zen temple, Hofukuji Temple, where the poet and priest Sesshu once lived, as well as housing the other half of the Kibi Trail.
- Takahashi — A castle town with the highlight being Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, one of Japan's only remaining original castles, as well as the highest castle in the country.
- Niimi — Famous for its two caves; Ikura Ravine and Maki Cave.
- Tsuyama — Home of Kakuzan Park, where springtime visitors will be treated to Okayama's best place to view cherry blossoms, as well as the beautiful Shurakuen Garden and historic Joto Street.
There are several great day trips outside of the prefecture, too.
|Routes through Kurashiki|
|Hiroshima ← Fukuyama ←||W E||→ Okayama → Shin-Osaka|
|Hiroshima ← Kamogata(Asakuchi) ←||W E||→ Okayama → Kobe|
|Hiroshima ← Kamogata(Asakuchi) ←||W E||→ Okayama → Kobe|
|END ←||N S||→ Sakaide → WE|