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Kurashiki: the perfectly preserved & picturesque Edo town

Posted on February 26, 2021

 

Set your watches back by three hundred years, because this time we’re headed to the historical Edo trading center of Kurashiki! With streets lined up and down with beautiful white houses and with the most stunning canal running through its center, Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is truly unlike any other town you’ll visit in Japan. Kurashiki offers us a unique glimpse into the past, fortunate enough to have been left practically unscathed from wartime Japan as well as various natural disasters.

Kurashiki canal

photo by @joey1017_kim

Come take a picturesque boat tour with weeping willow trees that stretch out across the banks of the canal, transporting you back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) when bags of rice were once transported down the very same waters.

Kurashiki canal bridge

photo by @angelinline1208

A day trip to Kurashiki will be best spent immersing yourself in all things history. Be sure to check out the Archeological Museum, the Ohara Museum of Art, the Museum of Folkcraft, and the Japanese Folk Toys Museum!

Kurashiki canal boat trip

photo by @suengpedro

Kurashiki can be found at the foot of Tsurugata-yama hill, located in Japan’s southern region within Okayama Prefecture.

Kurashiki rickshaw

photo by @kenta013_

Sit back and relax on a rickshaw! Did you know that the word rickshaw originates from the Japanese word ‘jin-riki-sha,’ which translates to human powered vehicle? Unlike in other parts of Asia where rickshaws are more common, it is more of a rarity to see one in Japan these days with its love for all things fast and modern.

Kurashiki rickshaw 2

photo by @kenta013_q1q

The first thing you’ll notice as you make your way down the streets of Kurashiki is the black-and-white color tone of the whole town. The striking monochromatic buildings are an artifact from the Edo era, once being used as storehouses for huge amounts of rice.

Kurashiki streets

photo by @aqua_smart_photo

The old storehouses have all been converted into shops and restaurants since, so it’s definitely worth taking a wander down the streets away from the main canal area!

Kurashiki boat view

photo by @kurashiki_sodachi

Since willows are not evergreen, we would highly recommend making the trip during the warmer months, from spring through autumn. And don’t forget to try some tako-meshi (steamed octopus with rice) while you’re down there—it’s a local favorite!

 

Access:

3.25 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station

12-minute local train ride from Okayama Station to Kurashiki Station

Google maps link

Written by: Maya Kimura Watts

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