Enjoy Atmosphere of Modern Times and Western Modern Art. - Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter -
The area, called "Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter", around the Kurashiki Canal has beautifully preserved traditional Japanese architectures, such as residences of wealthy merchants, white-walled storehouses and rows of traditional houses with their lattice windows facing onto paths. It flourished as Tenryo, or territory under the direct control of the Edo (1603-1867) Shogunate. The quarter remains the atmosphere of the commercial town in the days when goods were collected from the whole Bitchu region, the middle of three parts into which current Okayama Prefecture and the eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture is divided vertically. The area of the Kurashiki Canal is designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings in Japan.
As a result of the reclamation of the surrounding areas and the construction of a deadline embankment on the Kojima Bay, the Kurashiki Canal lost its usefulness and function as a canal. After the sightseeing boom in Kurashiki in 1968, the canal was developed and reached its present form.
Ohara Museum of Art regarded as the major site of the quarter is the first private museum of Western modern art in Japan. The museum houses art works, such as paintings, including Claude Monet's Water Lilies and El Greco's The Annunciation, and sculptures, including Auguste Rodin's the Burghers of Calais. It also has a large collection of Japanese artists' works.
The area has a lot of shops specializing in various foods and products, such as sesame products made from pestle-pounding sesame by the specialists, local sakes produced in Okayama Prefecture and the croquette, which won the gold prize at the first National Croquette Competition in Japan.
Heartland Kurashiki is a festival held mainly in the quarter in early May. It is popular to watch an old-fashioned boat that carries a girl dressed in a wedding kimono along the canal. It brings back the old times; a bride traveling to her bridegroom's residence. It also has various performances including Japanese drums.
Kurashiki Tenryo Summer Festival held on a Saturday of July is the largest festival in Kurashiki City. It is known for its dance competitions on the main street, Kurashiki Chuo-dori Avenue, extending from Kurashiki Station. It also has a Japanese chess tournament at Keiken-do of Shinkei-en Garden adjoining Ohara Museum of Art, performances on Kurashiki Chuo-dori Avenue by a Kurashiki-based Japanese drum group that are active both domestically and overseas, the final of a beauty contest, Kurashiki Komachi, at Ario Kurashiki and other performances.
Visitors can enjoy lots of other events here. They include Kurashiki Spring Light Festival and Kurashiki Music Festival held in early spring.
A 90-minute regular tour of the area with an English speaking guide is offered, departing from the entrance of Kurashiki Local History Museum at 9:30. No reservation is required. A charged tour, whose fee for a private visitor is 100 yen until March 31, 2020, starts in April. A reservation is required and can be made by fax, not accepted online. A fax form is available at the site of "Kurashiki Welcome Tour Guides". For more information, visit the site.
Getting here: 13 min. on foot from South Gate of Kurashiki Station
Rental bicycles available at Kurashiki City Station of Mizushima Rinkai Railway by Kurashiki Station on JR lines & Tourists' Rest across Kurashiki Chuo-dori Avenue from Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Free Wi-Fi service available in the area stretching from South Gate of Kurashiki Station to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.