Relax at Kurashiki, The Other Venice of Japan

Come with me to explore Kurashiki (倉敷), a historic merchant ‘town of rice storehouses’ in the Okayama Prefecture of Japan. Come to Kurashiki for its well-conserved Edo Period (1603-1867) Kurashiki bikan historical quarter. Relax and enjoy a slower pace of life by strolling along this awesome canal lined with weeping willows and cherry blossoms if you are lucky enough to be here in spring. As a result, Kurashiki is enthusiastically referred to as the ‘Venice of Japan by the local tourist association.

Tip: If this is your first visit to Japan, do visit my related article on Taking In Tokyo as a Japan first-timer for practical tips.

Kurashiki bikan historical quarter, also illuminated tastefully in the evening, can be reached by an only 15 min train ride from JR Okayama station followed by a gentle 10-min stroll. On our walk, we were approached out of the blue by Suinkyo. Suinkyo are masked locals dressed as old men or old women and armed with red fans. It was a slightly shocking cultural experience as these Suinkyo do look rather fearsome on first impression and my… my… the Suinkyo can move like warp speed ninjas. How about that? I managed to bag the shot of the Suinkyo just before he hit me on the head with the fan. The locals believe that if a Suinkyo hits a child on the head with the red fan, the child will grow strong and healthy. Alright then, I don’t exactly need to grow anymore but I grant you the permission to hit me on the head again with your fan as I don’t mind being healthier, Suinkyo! 🙂

Ready to meet masked Suinkyo armed with red fans?

For museum enthusiasts, you may wish to visit the privately owned Ohara Museum, recognised as the first Western art museum in Japan.

Ohara Museum

Feeling slightly peckish, we bought some savoury snacks (a fishcake and a skewer of fish balls) from a hole in the wall vendor. We ate our snacks whilst sitting on a bench in the Ivy Square. Do you think that snacks are tastier when you get to people watch too? Ivy Square is the site of the local magistrate’s office during the Edo Period (1603-1867) before becoming Kurashiki Bosekijo, the first modern cotton mill in Japan in 1889. These days, Ivy Square houses a hotel, restaurants and museums such as Kurabo museum,Kojima Museum, Momotaro Karakuri (Legend of the Peach Boy) Museum and Piggybank Museum.

In the streets of Japan, you are never far from a drinks vending machine (Kirin drinks -left and Anpanman – right).

Here’s some pictures of Kurashiki’s bikan historical quarter with the must-see canal. Lookout for the artist sketching on the canal bank, ladies in kimono and a canal boat packed with tourists in straw hats bobbing along gently in the Kurashiki canal.

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Even in the narrow streets away from the canal, Kurashiki is still rather picturesque. If you love photography, Kurashiki’s narrow streetscape is a great inspiration for black and white photography.

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Here’s Kurashiki’s colourful Japanese streets and objects that caught my eye.

Don’t miss having a cup of coffee at Coffee-kan. We had the iced (petitie noir) Queen of Kohaku and today’s coffee (Brazilian Santos which exhibits a slightly nutty and caramelly character) which were both prepared masterfully by the baristas.

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The purpose of our visit to Kurashiki in the month of May was to attend the Kurashiki Field Of Craft Show. There were lots of artists displaying crafts such as home-made shoes, leather bags, pottery from Bizen and Kyoto and metalworks such as cutleries and decorative items. The only craftsman in the hold Kurashiki craft show that had managed to meet both our taste and budget is a very talented Kyoto potter. We bought a 2-in-1 coffee filter and pot as a souvenir. We also learnt the art of making filter coffee from this patient, humble yet friendly potter. His works are handmade with an air of elegance and a refined touch. When observing a piece of pottery closely, you can usually feel whether the potter is really passionate about his work. We are still enjoying this piece of art for our weekend coffee. Thank you for making us an elegant and functional work of art! We will try to visit this sifu’s pottery studio in Kyoto some day.

Visit for information on the upcoming crafts show.

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Do also read about our visit to Matsue, also known as the Venice of Japan.

Thanks for reading about our relaxing experience at Kurashiki. Fellow Dreampliflyers, hope you have managed to relax too. Greeting from Kurashiki with love! Sayonara さよなら!

Must drink

  • Coffee-kan
    Signature drink: iced (petitie noir) Queen of Kohaku coffee

          Address: 4-1 Honmachi, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture 710-0054, Japan

Practical Tips

  • Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Best Time to Visit: May or November to avoid the mad tourist crush!
  • Getting around:  Walk
  • Getting here: 15-min by local train from JR Okayama station.
  • Visit for further information courtesy of the Kurashiki tourist information office.

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