Japan

Mini-Kyoto: Kurashiki

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While Kyoto is simply irreplaceable, I had sweet moments walking in “mini-Kyoto” – Kurashiki, Japan, during the cherry blossoms season.

Kurashiki is a historic city located in western Okayama Prefecture, Japan, sitting on the Takahashi River, on the coast of the inland sea. It is a mere 30-minute JR ride away from the nearest city, Okayama, which makes it a perfect location for a day trip.

IMG_0784In spring, Kurashiki is one of the most popular cities for cherry blossoms viewing. What amazed me is although cherry blossoms could be found almost everywhere throughout the country, the Japanese managed to find a niche in each location and make it special for the visitors. I think, for Kurashiki, it is the historic buildings and canals in the old town that make us appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms in a different way.

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It was still a little bit crispy and cold during spring. When I got out of the train, I bought my favorite Oden (Japanese food) and began my exploration of this city. Just follow the signs along your way and it’s a 5to 10-minute walk to the main street of Kurashiki.

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Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter dates back to the Edo Period when Kurashiki served as an important rice distribution center.

Our first sight of the canal area was stunning – just like we were in a movie set of an old Japanese movie. I could imagine the canal would look much more vibrant when the willow on both sides of the canal turns green.

IMG_0785The canal area (also the Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter) dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867), when Kurashiki served as an important rice distribution center. In fact, the name “Kurashiki” can be roughly translated as “town of storehouses”, which refers to the storehouses in which the rice was kept.

The city also housed the oldest Western art museum in Japan – the Ohara Museum is a historic, round shaped buildings in the old town Kurashiki with an impressive collection of western European art paintings.

Cats are a symbol of the city, so every shop is selling cat toys, souvenirs and manekineko (The beckoning cats!), the hand waves means the beckoning of good luck and fortune. There are cats beckoning with either left or right arms. The common belief is that the cars with their left paw raised would bring in customer for business, and the cats with their right paw would bring luck and wealth to the families.

Walked through the Bikan quarter we ended our day at the Ivy Square – a former site of a cotton mill factory and took some stunning picture of cherry blossoms. After that, we wasted no time and head back Mitsui Outlet Park right next to the JR Station for some serious damage… What a day!

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13 thoughts on “Mini-Kyoto: Kurashiki

  1. THANK YOU !!!

    This is a Wonderful piece
    about Kyoto !!!
    It has been 50 years since I
    was last in this Magnificent
    city. But, I still think of it
    often. It is Very Beautiful
    and Very Impressive.
    I intend revisiting Japan in
    three years and plan on
    spending at least a week
    exploring Kyoto !!!
    Thank You again !!! You
    have transported me back
    to a Very Special place and
    time in my youth !!!
    Peter

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is a great tradition and it could be seen anywhere in the country. You are welcome to see my other posts about the Cherry Blossoms in different places 🙂

      Like

  2. I enjoy that there are niche in every location throughout the country even cherry blossoms are very popular. They are just so beautiful and I hope when I get to Japan I’ll have the pleasure of seeing them for myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard heaps of great things about Kyoto but never heard about Kurashiki. Must add it to my list for Japan, especially if I visit in Spring. Your photos make it even more convincing. Love hearing arguments for off the beaten track destinations.

    Liked by 1 person

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