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  3. Traditional Merchant Houses below 1700-year-old Shrine

Traditional Merchant Houses below 1,700-year-old Shrine :
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter & Achi Shrine

Getting to Kurashiki Station:

16 min. from Okayama Station on JR Sanyo Line

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Japanese Dram Girl Appearing in Wedding Kimono The Moon Princess on Kurashiki Canal

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  • People Going on a Boat on the Kurashiki Canal
  • Shops in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
  • A Girl on Boat in the Kurashiki Canal
  • Kurashiki Tenryo Summer Festival

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

Click here to jump to the sightseeing map of downtown Kurashiki

Free Wi-Fi service available in the area stretching from South Gate of Kurashiki Station to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.

  • Concert Held under Wisteria Tree at Achi Shrine
  • Kindergarten Children Visiting Achi Shrine
  • Children's Bitchu Kagura Performed at Achi Shrine
  • Goshinkosai Parade

Feel 1,700 Years of History. - Achi Shrine -

Achi Shrine with a history of over 1,700 years is located on the Tsurugatayama Hill dominating Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, having a Noh stage and an ancient garden in its precinct. After being destroyed by fires, the current main shrine building was reconstructed in 1749.

It is well-known for its wisteria tree termed Akebono-fuji, which is a rare kind of wisteria tree and estimated to be the age between 300 year-old and 500 year-old. It spreads its branches about 20 square meters, or 215 square feet. It is the largest of all this kind in Japan. Rose-pink wisteria flowers hung down from pergolas are in full bloom from late April to early May. The three-year project to recover its vigor has been performed since January 2018.

On the night of the New Year's Eve, a lot of people come to Achi Shrine to make the first shrine visit of the New Year and New Year's Eve countdown is performed. After the midnight, the people pray for their good health and happiness for the new year, drawn up in lines in front of the hall of worship. Three Goddesses' Dancing to ceremonial court music, Children's Bitchu Kagura based on ancient myths and other performances are dedicated on its Noh stage. From New Year's Day to January 3, there are New Year's performances, such as ponding steamed rice to make rice cakes, a show to demonstrate a way of wearing twelve-layered ceremonial kimono and traditional dance performances.

In Japan, people traditionally celebrate girls' growth with a set of traditional dolls, "Hina dolls", displayed on a tiered stand on March 3. The festival is called Hina-Matsuri. From late February to early March, Kurashiki City holds a festival named Kurashiki Hina-Meguri, at which sets of Hina dolls are displayed in various places, including Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. About 50 sets are displayed in the assembly hall called Sanshuden.

The area along the street running east-west at the southern foot of the Tsurugatayama Hill was formed and crowded earlier than that around the Kurashiki Canal, having a different atmosphere. Time passed very slowly in the area.

Achi Shrine holds Annual Spring Festival on the third Saturday of May and Annual Autumn Festival on the Saturday before the third Sunday of October. Ritual performances, such as Three Goddesses' Dancing to ceremonial court music and Children's Bitchu Kagura based on ancient myths are offered on its Noh stage in the evening. Youths performing roles of elderly men and women with masks, termed suinkyo, appear at plenty of places in the downtown area near Achi Shrine. It is said that people who have been patted on their heads by them with their fans are getting healthy and growing wiser. On the next day of Annual Autumn Festival, a historical pageant comprised of about 150 participants marches through about 12 kilometers of streets in and around Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.

Kurashiki Byobu Festival, or a folding screen festival in Kurashiki, takes place on the third Sunday of October and the previous Saturday every year, timed to coincide with Annual Autumn Festival. About 30 residents in the neighborhood of the shrine removed their lattice windows or open their lattice entrance doors facing onto the streets such as Honmachi-dori Street, and displayed their folding screens, heirlooms and Japanese arranged flowers to treat visitors warmly during the festival. It was restored in 2002 and has become known as a pastime that gives poetic charm to autumn in Kurashiki.

Getting here: 15 min. on foot from South Gate of Kurashiki Station

Sightseeing Map of Downtown Kurashiki