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17 Best Things To Do in Kurashiki Japan as a Solo Traveller

Last Updated on October 18, 2020 by queenie mak

Famous for the picturesque canal along with the weeping willow trees, Kurashiki is a small charming town in Okayama Prefecture in Japan. The city was an important point along the distribution route for Japan’s most important commodity, rice. Canals were built to allow boats to go through the town and nearby ports.

Today, you will find restored warehouses converted to shops and restaurants in this beautiful and charming town. With so many things to do in Kurashiki, it is no wonder the small town is gaining its popularity!

I love getting off the beaten path in Japan and discover gems like Kurashiki. There are many things to do in Kurashiki including walking through the historical area, sampling local cuisine and visiting world-class museums. If you prefer a small town that is low-key and quiet, then you must visit Kurashiki.

Canal tour in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Canal tour in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

What you need to know before visiting Kurashiki

Before you visit Kurashiki, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for travelling to Kurashiki

  • Walking is the best way to see Kurashiki
  • ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Okayama Prefecture. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including bus, train and etc. It is useful to have especially if you are taking day trips to Okayama, Naoshima, Teshima or destinations.
  • You can see all the attractions in Kurashiki in 1 day
  • If you are travelling to Okayama, Kurashiki is just a stone’s throw away (17 minutes to be exact)

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Streets of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter are full of traditional Japanese houses
Streets of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter are full of traditional Japanese houses

How to get to Kurashiki

Kurashiki is a small town 18km southwest of Okayama in Okayama Prefecture. There are several ways of getting into the city from the airport and Okayama City.

From Okayama Momotaro Airport to Kurashiki

If you are flying, domestic (Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo and Okinawa) and international (Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei) flights fly into Okayama Momotaro Airport. From the airport, there are non-stop bus services to Kurashiki.

If you are taking the train from either east or west of Kurashiki, you will arrive at Okayama first then take another train to Kurashiki. Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares. Here are a few sample routes:

Travelling from east: Osaka to Kurashiki

  • Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station
    • Time: 45 minutes
    • Cost: from ¥5,940 (covered by JR Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
  • JR Hakubi Line or JR San-yo Line: from Okayama Station to Kurashiki Station
    • Time: 17 minutes
    • Cost: ¥330 (covered by JR Pass)

Travelling from west: Hiroshima to Kurashiki

  • Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen: from Hiroshima Station to Okayama Station
    • Time: 40 minutes
    • Cost: from ¥5,940 (covered by JR Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
  • JR Habuki Line or JR San-yo Line: from Okayama Station to Kurashiki Station
    • Time: 17 minutes
    • Cost: ¥330 (covered by JR Pass)
Typical Kurashiki houses
Typical Kurashiki houses

Where to stay in Kurashiki

A lot of people go to Kurashiki as a day trip. But I definitely think it is an excellent city to stay for a few days in the picturesque town.

Most Kurashiki accommodations are close to the historical area and near the train station. And a lot of accommodation is budget-friendly.

  • Hostel Cuore Kurashiki ($) – stay in one of their fort-like bunk beds, single or double bedroom. Great common area to hang out. Centrally located.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Kurashiki Guest House U-RIN-AN ($) – stay right in the middle of all the attractions. Located on the main street, you can stay at this popular hostel where you sleep in a Japanese-style dorm room. The restaurant is super popular with tourists.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Dormy Inn Kurashiki Natural Hot Spring Hotel ($$) – the centrally located hotel chain has standard bedrooms with a bathroom. The best part about this hotel is the hot spring facilities.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Ryori Ryokan Tsurugata Hotel ($$$) – stay in a traditional Japanese house right off the canal. Get a Japanese-style room and enjoy the hot spring facilities. If you want to splurge on a luxury stay, stay at a traditional ryokan in Kurashiki.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Airbnb accommodation

  • Cost: up to ¥4,000 per day
  • I was slow travelling through Japan and stayed at this lovely Kurashiki apartment. The apartment has everything you need for a short-term stay. A comfortable bed, full kitchen, dining area and bathroom. The host is very thoughtful and provided a lot of things that I didn’t think about including toiletries, tea, coffee, drinks, etc. The apartment is very comfortable and inviting. Most of all, the host is easy to communicate with and is very generous. I highly recommend this place!

Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb accommodations

17 Best things to do in Kurashiki, Japan

Most visitors will wonder what to do in Kurashiki other than Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. But there is so much more you can discover in the picturesque town. Let me show you all the places you can visit.

All the top Kurashiki attractions are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.

1. Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

The main attraction for Kurashiki is the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. When you google “Kurashiki,” you will find images of charming and picturesque photos of houses next to a canal and along with weeping willow trees.

The original town was built more than 300 years ago. Today, retails shops, restaurants line both sides of the canal in restored historic buildings, such as Kurashiki Monogatarikan (a tourism and cultural centre) and Kurashiki Craft Work Village (a space for craft making and traditional Japanese tea ceremony).

You can also take a traditional boat tour of Kurashiki canal (20 minutes, ¥500 per person) during the warmer months and see the city from another perspective. Or take a rickshaw tour around Kurashiki through the small narrow streets.

Achi Shrine on Tsuragatayama Hill

2, 3, 4 & 5. See a panoramic view of Kurashiki and visit Achi Shrine, Kanryuji Temple and Honeji Temple

Sitting on the top of Tsuragatayama Hill are a few important temples in Kurashiki. And not to mention a gorgeous unobstructed view of Kurashiki.

The Achi Shrine has been around for more than 1,700 years. The shrine is known for the massive granite rocks known as iwakura rocks, which are sacred rocks and has origins that relate to Korean shamanistic roots.

Moreover, Tsuragatayama Hill was much closer to the Seto Inland Sea hundreds of years ago, which made Achi Shrine the perfect spot for enshrining the goddesses of the sea and voyages.

And before you leave the park, take a look at the peaceful Kanryuji Temple and Honeji Temple at the bottom of the hill.

6 & 7. Honmachi and Higashimachi

Kurashiki used to be a city for merchants dated back to the Edo Period. The traditional houses have austere white-washed walls with black and white latticework pattern. That is a typical Kurashiki architectural style.

Just south of Tsuragatayama Park, Honmachi and Higashimachi are areas in Kurashiki that were once the main areas in Kurashiki. They are both major roads for transportation of rice and other goods for the merchants and artisans back in the days.

Today, you can still see the traditional houses with the signature Kurashiki style, but they are now renovated storehouses. You can find restaurants, cafes, and galleries in these renovated storehouses.

8. Kurashiki Demin Street

Kojima is a small city 17km south of Kurashik and is the birthplace of Japanese denim.

And in Kurashiki, you will find retailers selling denim products that are made in Kojima. From jeans, shirts, dresses, skirts, bags and many more.

Some vendors even sell food in blue colour. But don’t worry, the blue colour comes from ai, Japanese indigo, which is a plant used to colour Japanese denim. It is totally edible!

9. Kurashiki Ivy Square

Kurashiki Ivy Square is a multipurpose space that was formerly a cotton mill. Today, the cluster of red brick buildings houses a hotel, pottery workshop, retail stores and a cotton mill memorial museum.

Rows of Washi Tapes in Tanex612 Factory
Rows of Washi Tapes in Tanex612 Factory

10. Buy Washi Tape at Tanex612 Factory

Kurashiki is the birthplace of washi tape, a roll of masking tape made with washi (Japanese paper) where each roll has aesthetically pleasing designs. Typically, washi tape is used for scrapbooking and any type of arts and crafts.

Although you can find washi tape anywhere in Japan, it is extra special to buy the unique tape in Kurashiki. Tanex612 Factory in Bikan Historical Quarter selling hundredss of washi tapes.

11. Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki

Just north of Kurashiki train station, visitors can do some major shopping at the Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki. They have local stores and international brand names. If you are a visitor, bring your passport, so you don’t have to pay for taxes for purchases over ¥5,000 in participating retailers.

12. Ohara Museum of Art

As the first western art museum in Japan, the Ohara Museum of Art has an extensive collection of paintings by French and Japanese artists. Since 1930, Ohara Magosaburo started collecting art, and the collection continues to grow. Today, there are many masterpieces by western and Japanese artists.

For an entrance fee of ¥1,300, you can see Monet’s Waterlilies, Pablo Piccasso’s Bird Cage, and the museum’s most famous painting, Annunciation by El Greco.

As you tour through the property, you can see black and white latticeworks on the exterior walls of some of the buildings. The contrasting latticework is Kurashiki’s signature architectural style.

Make sure you visit the Ohara House and Shinkei-en Garden, they are part of the Ohara Museum as well.

13. Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft

Set in a traditional storehouse along the canal, Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft showcases objects from everyday lives from the 18th century. For an entrance fee of ¥700, you can see the renovated space displaying objects from people’s daily lives like pottery, glass, textiles, ceramics, lacquerware, and other folk crafts.

Entrance to Momotaro Karakuri Museum
Entrance to Momotaro Karakuri Museum

14. Momotaro Karakuri Museum

As one of Japan’s best-known folk tales, Momotaro is a legendary character that originated from Okayama. He was born from a giant peach (momo) and befriended a monkey and a dog by offering them kibi-dango (small sticky millet dumplings).

The museum displays prints, picture-card and other displays related to Momotaro. You can see everything related to Momotaro for just ¥600.

15. Ohashi House

The Ohashi family built the Ohashi house in 1796 and is a typical representation of a Kurashiki merchant house. It is an important cultural property by the national government. For ¥500, you can see a traditional merchant house.

16. Kurashiki City Art Museum

Originally built as the Kurashiki City Hall, the space is now the Kurashiki City Art Museum where it contains large-scale exhibitions on modern, contemporary Japanese art. The museum also holds related lectures and workshops in Japanese.

Related Post – How to spend 4 weeks between Tokyo and Hiroshima

17. Try local Kurashiki food

Okayama Prefecture produces a lot of fruits and rice because of the great weather and mineral-rich soil. And the city’s proximity to the Seto Inland Sea means fresh seafood is never far. Try some of these local specialties:

  • Bara Sushi – a variety of seafood cut into small pieces, marinated in vinegar and scattered over rice. Hence it is called “scattered sushi.”
  • Mamakari Sushisappa (a small Japanese sardinella fish) sushi
  • Chiya Beef – Okayama Prefecture’s local cattle strain, as good as Matsuzaka beef and Kobe beef. There are a limited number of cattle being bred and raised, which makes chiya beef a rare treat. Can be eaten in sukiyaki hotpot, yakiniku (grilled at your table) and eaten as sushi.
  • Okayama Demi-katsudon – deep-fried pork cutlet over rice with a sweet demi-glaze sauce
  • Kibi-dango – small sticky millet dumplings with sugar
  • White peaches – a juicy summer fruit that is super popular in Okayama Prefecture
  • Muscat and pione grapes – Okayama Prefecture has a large variety of grapes like muscat (green) and pione (purple) grapes.
  • Sake – a Japanese rice wine produced by omachi rice, which is grown in the mineral-rich soil in Okayama Prefecture

Where to eat in Kurashiki

Like most places in Japan, dining solo is very typical in Kurashiki. You will never feel out of place just because you are eating by yourself. Here are some suggestions on where to eat in Kurashi:

  • Kappa Tonkatsu (かっぱ) ($) – for less than ¥1,000, you can get tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) with rice and miso soup. The entire kitchen is run by a group of women. There is such a homey feel to this place!
  • Bukkake-Udon Furuichi ($) – try their nikuten bukkake udon noodle. It comes with beef, shrimp tempura and egg for ¥740.
  • Yuurin-an Cafe ($) – they are famous for their “happy pudding.” They make 80 each day, and each pudding has a different happy face. Very popular with the locals and tourists as well.
  • Toraiya Hompo (冨来屋本舗) ($$)- choose from several of Okayama’s typical dishes. From chiya beef, mamakari sushi, bara sushi to anything in between. An English menu is available.
  • Scarecrow ($) – a small little cozy coffee shop just south of Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.
  • Yamau Coffee Stand ($) – serving delicious coffee and matcha latté, the small coffee shop is an excellent place for a hot beverage. It is located right next to the canal.
  • Tenmaya Happy’s Supermarket ($) – located just north of Kurashiki Station, the supermarket has a wide variety of produces and also prepared food. The supermarket is in Ario Kurashiki (shopping mall) which has many retail shops and a food court.

Kurashiki day trips

Okayama Castle in Okayama City
Okayama Castle in Okayama City

Okayama

Visit the capital city of Okayama Prefecture and see the Okayama Castle along Asahigawa River, nicknamed “ujo” (crow castle) due to its black exterior. Even though it is the reconstructed castle (the original was destroyed during WWII), it is still worth seeing. Then walk over to Korakuen Garden which is not too far away. Don’t miss the garden as it is one of the best landscape gardens in Japan. Enjoy the beautiful gardens before popping into one of the museums like the Hayashibara Museum of Art. You can see all the major attractions in Okayama in one day.

From Kurashiki, take either the train on JR Habuki Line or JR San-yo Line. It only takes 20 minutes to get there and it cost ¥320.

Naoshima can be visited in a day. Learn how to get to Naoshima and what to do on the art island.
Hello Pumpkin at Naoshima Island

Naoshima

If the names Yayoi Kusama and Tadao Ando mean anything to you, then you must visit Naoshima. Naoshima is a small island full of contemporary museums, galleries and art installations. Spend the day visiting Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House Museum, Ando Museum and take photos of Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin!

For Kurashiki to Naoshima, you have to take the train and a ferry. First, take JR Habuki Line or JR San-yo Line from Kurashiki Station to Okayama Station. Then hop on the JR Uno Line from Okayama Station to Uno Station. You may need to change trains at Chayamachi Station across the platform (depends which train you are taking). The entire train journey will take about 70+ minutes and cost ¥900. From Uno Station, walk about 5 minutes to Uno Ferry Port and hop on one of the scheduled ferries to Naoshima Miyanoura Port. Check the Naoshima ferry schedule before you visit the island.

See my detailed post on spending the day in Naoshima

If you love contemporary art, then you must visit Teshima Island as it is one of the best contemporary art island in Japan
Teshima Art Museum on Teshima Island

Teshima

Just west of Naoshima, Teshima is another fantastic island full of contemporary artwork in the Seto Inland Sea. Spend the day on an electric bicycle and visit Teshima Yokoo House, La Forêt des Murmures, and most of all, you have to see the installation at Teshima Art Museum. It has to be one of the best installations I’ve seen anywhere in the world!

Going to Teshima is similar to going to Naoshima. Follow the directions above for Kurashiki Station to Uno Station. Once you arrive at Uno Ferry Port, take one of the scheduled ferries to Teshima Ieura Port. Check the Teshima ferry schedule before you spend the day on the island.

See my detailed post on spending the day in Teshima

Are you including Kurashiki to your Japan itinerary?

Most travellers will visit Okayama as it is a bigger city and more well known. But personally, I enjoyed Kurashiki much more than Okayama! It is not a well-known place, but that is part of the charm in itself.

I hope you enjoyed reading my top things to do in Kurashiki. And when you are planning a trip to Japan, make sure to add Kurashiki to your itinerary!

For more travel planning resources, check out my Amazon picks:

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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