Japan’s Historic Kurashiki

Prospering in the 1600s, Kurashiki was an essential destination for transporting goods. Today, Kurashiki offers a historical glimpse into a harmonious cultural Japanese lifestyle.

Where is Kurashiki?

What to see

As one of the most visited and famous tourist locations in the Okayama Prefecture, Kurashiki presents visitors with a variety of activities in a relatively small area.

Built on reclaimed land from the sea originally, Kurashiki’s rice crops failed due to the seawater, so instead, cotton was grown, which bloomed from 1573-1600 as an important cotton trade transport link.

Kurashiki’s narrow streets are graced with colourful shops.

Along the way, you encounter temples, shrines, and typically Japanese buildings. However, there is also a particular refurbished non-Japanese red-brick building, which looks as though it should be in Europe.

Original warehouses (Kura) in Kurashiki’s old merchant district have been lovingly restored and are well-known throughout Japan.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

One of Japan’s treasures, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter’s streets are lined with characteristically white-walled and slatted timber Kominka (traditional houses). Old Machiyas – traditional townhouses – are mingled all over the quarter.

Internally renovated and modernised, many of the Machiyas offer accommodation as guest houses or lodges.

Kurashiki Canal

Lined with lovely weeping willow trees, the becalmed Kurashiki River flows through the centre of town.

Take a timber non-motorised “Traditional Boat Tour of Kurashiki Canal” gliding along the calm waterway for a different perspective of the quaint white-walled Kominkas.

Kurashiki canal boat, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Traditional boat tour of peaceful Kurashiki canal

Or take your time and wander along the canal’s banks, immersing yourself in a bygone era.

Hire a Kimono or a Yukata

Before strolling through Kurashiki’s historic streets, you can try and blend in by donning a Kimono or Yukata similar to what many locals and foreigners hire for the duration of their visit.

Several shops in Kurashiki hire out popular traditional outfits for the day at ¥3,780 for women and ¥4,860 for men. You can even have your hair styled at the same time for an extra ¥1,200.

Kimono, Kurashiki, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia

Worn by locals, the traditional attire looks elegant and authentic but is a bit of fun for foreigners.

Take a ride

Tired of walking around the sights in Kurashiki?

Take a traditional ride in a pulled rickshaw – “jinrikisha” (human-powered vehicle). Jinrikisha tours run from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Thankfully, the rickshaw touts are not relentless. Instead, ask you once only before moving on to the next potential customer.

Jinrikisha, Kurashiki, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Jinrikisha guys have muscular thighs of steel!

Kurashiki Ivy Square

Dating back 400 years, it was in 1888 that Kurabō Inc. founded the cotton mill, which today, is one of the oldest spinning factories existing in Japan.

After extensive renovations in 1974, which left the red “English Bond” brickwork, the charming historical cotton mill was aptly named Ivy Square. Lush green ivy blankets the building and ivy hedges adorn walkways.

The ivy was planted in the 1920s not only to screen the factory building with green barriers but also to provide thermal insulation during the hot summer months.

Selling fabrics, high-end art, and traditional wares, prices are not cheap. Stop off at a craft shop, souvenir shop, winery, gallery, or cafe. Maybe take an Aimi Kobo pottery class while at Ivy Square.

Kojimba Jean Street

Around a 15-minute walk from the JR Kojima train station, as the name suggests, jeans are everywhere on Kojima Jeans Street. I’ve never seen so much clothing made of jeans material in one area.

How did the Kojima Jeans Street come about?

Kojimba Jean Street is the birthplace of jeans in Japan, and locals come here from around the country to buy high-quality jeans.

Shop at 30 shops that just sell everything jeans. Why not indulge in a pair of custom-made jeans in whatever style or colour that you want? You can even select the rivets for your unique jeans.

Around Kurashiki

Of course, there is a modern side to Kurashiki, which is a little less touristy.

Japan is full of shopping malls and Kurashiki also has a large Ario mall with a plethora of shops and an inexpensive food court at the lower level of the mall.

Kurashiki, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Flower clock

I doubt many foreigners venture to this side of Kurashiki unless they arrive by train, although I wanted to include these photos and a little information.

The imposing clock tower and intriguing bronze sculptures in Hans Christian Anderson Square are synonymous more with Europe than Japan.

Where to eat

After a few weeks in Japan and as a foodie, I am starting to learn that Japan is a land of mouthwatering scrumptious food and that food is everywhere, regardless of your destination.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money eating out as if you do a little hunting there is always inexpensive good food to enjoy. Eating your main meal at lunch saves money as the same meal in the evening costs more.


For a cheaper lunch when in Kurashiki, gravitate to the Manmaru for an enticing lunch…

…in modern surroundings with great staff.

Manmaru, Kurashiki, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Wonderful Manmaru

The food is so delectable that I can easily eat my way around Japan, and I aim to try my very best while travelling through this amazing country.

Getting there

From the Okayama JR train station platform 5, make your way to the San-io line for Kurashiki.

The journey takes from 17 to 20 minutes on a regional train (not express) and costs ¥330.

Wander out of the Kurachiki train station and head to the well-signed Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, which takes about 15 minutes to walk.

map of the train route from JR Train Station Okayama to Kurashiki train station, Kurashiki, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia

Trains from Okayama’s station leave every 15 minutes, and trains returning from Kuashiki also leave every 15 minutes.

Leaving the Okayama Prefecture

Another bus journey tomorrow, this time from Okayama and heading East on Honshu Island to super touristy and expensive Kyoto.

With only three nights in Kyoto before moving on, hopefully, the city doesn’t bleed the purse dry!

Coming next: Captivating Kyoto

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.

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44 responses to “Japan’s Historic Kurashiki”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Rent your kimono? Wow. This sounds like typical Japanese practicality.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, nahh, gave this a miss!
      I’m sure I’d feel like a fool waltzing around in a Kimono.😂

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I can imagine. My reaction was more about the Japanese themselves. I would imagine a kimono today must be very expensive. So it makes sense (for them) to rent a kimono for the day. My father had at least to tuxedos. I never did. Just went to a “black tie” wedding. I rented a tux. 😉

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        They’re expensive to rent, so I can only imagine how expensive it would be to buy one outright.
        Tuxedos – very flashy and dashing!
        You’ll have to post some photos of you in a tux. 😉

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Haha! Tuxedos were very common in Mexico some years ago for weddings and special occasions. Not so much now. But it’s a nice outfit. I’ll rummage my archives.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent! Look forward to seeing those pics. 😉
        It Appears that WP is having issues and a major bug. If you’re on a desktop, the font throughoout my site is Times New Roman and very small. The WP bug is overriding what I’ve set for font family and size. I’ve been trying to get this fixed with them for 2 months now. It displays OK on mobile devices – weird but frustrating.

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        There seems to be an epidemic of computer bugs. On many platforms. I just had to change my Mac OS to the newest version. Some stuff was not working anymore. I’d delayed and delayed. Did it on Saturday, I’m still trying to “fix” everything they’ve moved… Grrr

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It’s so annoying and frustrating – not to mention time-consuming!
        Hope your’s is all fixed now.

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Haha. Still working on it. I normally never update the Operating system. It’s generally a major pain in the… Why change the order of the icons. Trash icon was up left now it’s bottom right… I think they’re sadists…

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        “Publish or Perish”, or “If it ain’t broke, don’t touch”, ha, ha.

      9. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Yes. If it works don’t fix it! 🙈

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly! That used to be the IT mantra, which has been replaced with publish or perish.

      11. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Now I understand. The inflation of new versions and updates is just a way to keep the IT department’s wages coming… Tsss.

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Of course! 😉

  2. Dave Ply Avatar

    I think I read somewhere that nearly all the folks you see wearing kimonos in Japan were tourists. It may have even been on this site. I suppose some would complain about cultural appropriation, but it looks like those renting them out are more interested in Yen appropriation.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I don’t think it was on this site Dave but maybe it’s the majority, or someone reading this post can enlighten us both?
      Not sure why your comment went into the trash folder – WP can be frustrating at times.

      1. Dave Ply Avatar

        Get I need to stop writing trashy comments. 😉 I think what I read was most of the kimono wearers were Korean or Chinese, with a few Japanese. It might have been Alison over at Adventures in Wonderland. I know she wrote up Japan a year or two back.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I see what you did there… 😉
        Now that could be true as there were a lot of Chinese and Lorean tourists when I was there in March/April. Mind you, Japan had been opened only since December so tourists were starting to flood in – I’d hate to see it at peak times.
        Just checking Alison’s site as I hadn’t visited this one, thanks for the heads-up.
        Hope all’s well with you. Any travel plans on the horizon?

      3. Dave Ply Avatar

        We’re planning on Greece in late spring. 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds marvellous and look forward to your write-ups.
        We’re still in Lviv until the 4th of January, then a border crossing into Kraków for a few days, but after that who knows where. 😉

  3. Stella, oh, Stella Avatar

    Hey, I could “like” again!!!
    The ladies in their traditional dresses look like butterflies, so beautiful!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Excellent! Finally fixed the issue.
      Beautiful and so elegant Stella.

  4. Monkey's Tale Avatar

    It looks like such a quaint Old Town, it’s almost strange that they have the tourist kimono rentals. I’m glad to see your post after your last message. I was a little worried about you!! Maggie

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Maggie

      Kurashiki is a quaint and lovely town albeit a little touristy. Yes, I thought it was a little odd also and although locals look great in Kimonos, tourists don’t. I saw a few dressed up and it just looked odd.
      Don’t be concerned. Everyone has air raid apps on their phones and there’s also an external one but not that audibal. The apartment is supposed to be safe as it’s an old building with very thick walls, so when the siren goes off, we usually move to the bathroom with chairs and devices. We’ve been here 12 days now and all’s well. 🙂
      You’re home now?


      1. Monkey's Tale Avatar

        Yes we’ve been home for a few days. As much as I love to travel, it’s very nice to be home 🙂 Stay safe!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You’ll be able to relax now.
        I know what you mean, but we’re not back home in Australia until 2025 if the money lasts. 😉

      3. Monkey's Tale Avatar

        Oh wow!

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Fingers crossed!
        Where’s your next destination? More travel this year or next year now?

      5. Monkey's Tale Avatar

        We’re not sure yet. We may go ski touring in Europe this winter/spring. It depends on who has better snow, them or us 😊

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That sounds great! We’re talking about spending a couple of months in Canada/USA from February next year…see what happens. 😉
        Found your comment in the Trash folder – not sure what WP is doing.

      7. Monkey's Tale Avatar

        Well, let us know if you’re coming to Alberta!

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Definitely will do! 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks, Anita.

  5. 100 Country Trek Avatar

    We visited Japan and such amazing site. You visited there in Japan during 7 weeks. You and I saw these Botanical Gardens. Thanks Anita

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Can’t remember how long stayed in Japan Anita (I’m sure you mentioned it before).
      Yes, the 7 weeks in Japan was much too short and thinking of returning on the way back to Australia in 2025.

  6. Yetismith Avatar

    The first thing that strikes me is the absence of mess, advertising, etc. The more I see of Japan through your great photos, the more I know I would love it! Not sure I would rent a kimono only because I think one needs to be Japanese to carry it properly, the way Indian ladies carry a sari and so forth. I have always thought Japanese national dress was elegant. If I was younger and wealthy, I would be on my way, guided by your great info.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Japan is the cleanest country I’ve travelled in so far – it’s incredible. Even public toilets are spotless and only found one during the 7 weeks in Japan, which was at the Botanical Gardens.
      I agree with you have to be Japanese to wear elegant traditional clothes. It always intrigues me how when foreigners land in a country, many decide to alter their clothing to suit the country. Whether they’re trying to blend in, having a bit of fun, or otherwise. I don’t get it.
      Thank you, Carloyn!

  7. Rebecca Cuningham Avatar

    Great tour, thank you Nila. Did you rent a kimono? 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, Rebecca. Ha, ha, no, as it was a tad too touristy for my liking.
      Also, I don’t like being the centre of attention and would rather hand back and take candid photos. 😉

      1. Rebecca Cuningham Avatar

        Yes, most photographers prefer to be behind the camera 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Of course! 😉

  8. Chronosfer2.wordpress.com Avatar

    I feel very strongly within myself that Japan has a very rich and strong spiritual tradition. something that is engaging and makes your story even deeper. and I believe that it is this inner strength that makes them who they are in every part of the country, such as transforming rice plantations that did not work, due to saline water, into cotton fields, for example. Japan is an extraordinary country. Thank you very much for this wonderful post. my hug.😀

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      You are correct Fernando, Japan is a country of a great many traditions but also delicately balancing modernity. This is what also makes Japan such an intriguing country to visit. Everyone I meet who has visited Japan (regardless of how long ago or recent), falls in love with the country and had great experiences while travelling. The locals are very hospitable and courteous.
      Japan is also a spotless country and the cleanest I’ve ever visited. There seems to be an army of cleaners everywhere.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post – hugs. 🙂

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