The city, in the Okayama prefecture, is located on Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. It’s a scenic choice for anyone thinking about moving to Okayama. In the Edo period, Kurashiki was a hub on the rice distribution route, canals were built so that boats could go between the different storehouses, where the rice was kept before shipping it to other cities. The area has been well-preserved so you can sense the history of Japan when you are in Kurashiki.
If you’re moving to Okayama or considering living in Okayama, we suggest considering a Kurashiki apartment since it is such a beautiful and culturally rich area with easy access to Okayama city. If you can find a Kurashiki apartment close to the Bikan area, you’ll be right by one of the most serene areas of Japan. Kurashiki station is only a 15-20-minute train ride from Okayama station so it’s often a feasible alternative to apartments in Okayama city if you happen to fall in love with the beautiful townscape!
Listed below are some of the best spots in the area.
1. Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Sharing an atmosphere similar to Venice, with a canal and streets filled mostly with pedestrians, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is one of Japan’s hidden gems. If you’re living in Okayama or get the opportunity to travel nearby, the Historical Quarter is well worth a visit. It takes approximately 10 minutes to walk there from the JR Kurashiki station. It’s a wonderful place to take a stroll wearing a kimono or yukata and take in the ambiance.
Walking down the streets of the Kurashiki Bikan area harks back to a different time; the banks of the Kurashiki River are lined with willow trees and the old storehouse buildings, which have retained their famous white walls and black tiles. The streets are filled with independent restaurants, cafés, craft vendors, shops, museums, and galleries.
The whole Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is a work of art in itself, showing how beautifully civilization can intertwine with nature. The traditional Japanese buildings blend harmoniously with European-influenced buildings, one of these being the Ohara Museum of Art. Here you can find European masterpieces such as El Greco’s The Annunciation and works by Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock, as well as plenty of Japanese works of art too. The museum also holds Claude Monet’s Water Lilies; after visiting the museum why not wander down to the Kurashiki Ivy Square to check out the water lily display inspired by the painting.
Renting an apartment in Okayama near the historical quarter would be a great location since there’d be access to this beautiful area and it is only a short walk from the station.
2. Kurashiki Ivy Square
Located within the Kurashiki Bikan area is the Kurashiki Ivy Square, a complex of red brick buildings covered in ivy. The Kurashiki Ivy Square is a beautiful example of merging Japanese and European styles. Within the red brick buildings, there are opportunities to enjoy an afternoon tea and a ceramic art class. Kurashiki Ivy Square is also just a nice place to wander around and take in the greenery of the ivy walls and well-kept hedges.
The buildings, including a hotel, museums, restaurants, cafés, and stores, were first built as a cotton mill. Within Kurashiki Ivy Square there are still crafters selling unique woven products and more. If you are moving to Okayama, this is a great area to purchase handmade craft items and gifts. For more crafts visit the nearby Museum of Folk Crafts to enjoy ceramics, textiles, glasswork, and more.
3. Mt. Washu (Kojima area)
The Kojima area of Kurashiki is the birthplace of Japanese-made jeans and contains the first national park in Japan, the Setonaikai National Park. Any nature-lovers moving to Okayama might enjoy living in the Kojima area so consider a Kurashiki apartment in this area. At the southernmost tip of Kurashiki, you’ll find Mt. Washu. Whilst it doesn’t have the impressive height of some of the other mountains in Japan (it is more of a large hill), it does have a gorgeous observation deck looking out to the Seto Inland Sea. From the summit of Mt. Washu, you can enjoy an impressive view of different islands dotted around the turquoise waters, as well as the impressive Seto Ohashi Bridge.
If you can sense a nice sunset coming, the summit of Mt.Washu is a great sunset spot, the walk only takes around 15 minutes!
Tamashima is a small area in the southwest of Kurashiki, close to the Shin-Kurashiki station. If you’re looking for rental apartments in Okayama, living in Tamashima means you could be close to the beach and a famous temple.
Sami Beach is a great place to cool down in the warm summer and one of Japan’s first artificial beaches and one of the first to become popular for swimming in Japan. The water is calm since it is part of the Seto Inland Sea and in summer there is a beach festival and more events which create a holiday feeling.
Anyone visiting or living in Okayama might also want to check out the Entsu-ji temple, not to be confused with the one in Kyoto. It’s where the monk Ryokan trained over a thousand years ago. You can also enjoy Entsuji Park.
5. Kurashiki Climate
Okayama is known as the “land of sunshine” and has a fairly mild climate compared to most of Japan, with average highs of about 33°C in the peak of summer in August and an average low of around 0.1°C in the January winter. It’s also one of the driest areas in Japan so anyone who doesn’t enjoy the rain might thrive living in Okayama.
With access to the nearby Seto Inland Sea, landmarks such as the Okayama Castle, and the birthplace of the Momotaro tale, Kurashiki is a great place to explore other sights in the Okayama prefecture.
Kurashiki is a wonderful place to visit and with good transportation links, it’s also a good option for living in Okayama. If you’re in search of a Kurashiki apartment, please check out what we have available or have a look at our other rental apartments in Okayama if you’re interested in moving to Okayama.