Traditional storehouses in Kurashiki

Kurashiki Bikan: The Town of Old Storehouses

Totally in contrast to the surrounding concrete jungle, Kurashiki’s historic center is a rare piece of old Japan that still exists. The quarter features narrow, flagstone streets, and white-walled traditional houses lined along a delightful canal. Occasionally, a punt floats past propelled by an elderly local, giving us a glimpse into Japanese daily life centuries ago.

Nestled along a scenic canal at the foot of  Mt. Tsurugata in West Japan, Kurashiki boasts one of the most picturesque merchant’s quarters in Japan. The town’s history dates back to about 300 years ago when the shogunate took control of the area.

They transformed this place into an important trade center for rice, sugar, and other goods. In fact, the name “Kurashiki” can be roughly translated as “town of storehouses”, in which Kura (倉) refers to the storehouses in which the goods were kept.

Kurashiki at sunset

A Rare Piece of Old Japan

While many cities in Japan were reduced to rubble in World War II, Kurashiki escaped the war largely unscathed. Notably, its old town – the Bikan Historical District – remains in beautiful condition. Many of the original storehouses with grey and white trellis-patterned walls, and elaborate ceramic roofs are well-preserved. The storehouses share space with drooping willow trees along the banks of the old canal. At sundown, gentle lights appear along the canal, bringing delight to the remaining visitors.

A short walk from the canal district is Honmachi, once a thriving merchants’ and artisans’ quarter. With narrow, flagstone streets lined with machiya (wooden townhouses), Honmachi gives visitors a sense of where people lived and worked in the Edo era. Today, most of these atmospheric buildings are renovated into souvenir shops, cafés, or izakaya (simple restaurants). But they kept the traditional storefronts to preserve the old townscape.

The Edo-style street in Kurashiki Bikan

Tips for visiting Kurashiki

  • The easiest way to Kurashiki is to take the train from Okayama Station. The trip takes approximately 15 minutes and costs 320¥ one way.
  • Located on the Shinkansen Sanyo line, Okayama Station is well-connected to major cities, such as Hiroshima (35 minutes), Osaka (1 hour), and Tokyo (about 3 hours).
  • JR Pass holders are exempted from all charges.


9 thoughts on “Kurashiki Bikan: The Town of Old Storehouses”

  1. Quán bán mì trông như trong phim ấy, Len! Đi như thế này mới đáng gọi là du hành ký. Cám ơn cháu.

    1. Quán đó đúng kiẻu Nhật ạ! Cảnh ở làng này ngoài đời còn đẹp hơn trong ảnh ạ. Cháu thấy VN tour organizer dở khi chỉ tập trung vào mấy cities để shopping. Đồ đạc thì mua đâu cũng được, nhưng cảnh đẹp thế này thì chắc chỉ thấy 1 lần trong đời.

  2. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    Kurashiki looks so different in the afternoon just before sunset as its streets seem to be deserted. When I was there all corners of the Bikan historical area were full of tourists, although most of them were Japanese. By the way, it’s lovely to see images of this part of Japan again. I didn’t know this place existed until the day my friend and I arrived in Okayama; that night a fellow diner told us about Kurashiki and convinced us to go there.

    1. Actually, I first know about Kurashiki by reading your blog 🙂 Before that, I haven’t even heard its name. Thanks for your wonderful post, I know about this charming town and was able to visit it on my first trip to Japan. It’s exactly what I want to see!

  3. Hay quá! Tớ thích tất cả những bài trong series Nhật của bạn. Tớ đang lên lịch trình chuyến đi Nhật và cũng chỉ muốn đến những thị trấn thành phố nhỏ như này! Cảm ơn thông tin của bạn nhiều!

    1. You welcome! Tớ chỉ mới đi có vùng Kansai thôi nên cũng chưa có nhiều thông tin lắm, nhưng nếu bạn cần hỏi gì thêm thì cứ tự nhiên 🙂

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