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The Bikan District of Kurashiki

Perfect for strolling, the historical merchant district of Kurashiki is full of charm

The historic Bikan District of Kurashiki is postcard-pretty. Narrow streets of merchant houses, traditional shops, restaurants and trendy cafes sit alongside a quiet stretch of the Kurashiki River, bound by stone bridges. A 20-minute boat cruise is an ideal way to see the area from the waterline. Translated as “warehouse village,” Kurashiki was a center for trade in the 17th century. The wealth of this era is evident in its traditional black- and white-walled houses on ordered, willow-lined streets, and its well-preserved mix of Edo, Meiji and Taisho architecture.
At the center of the district, Ivy Square is built on the site of Japan’s first cotton mill, built in 1889 by Magosaburo Ohara, who founded the Ohara Museum of Art. Now, the ivy-covered red brick buildings encompass a hotel, museum and restaurants, linked by wide colonnades around an open square. The Bikan District is dotted with museums dedicated to art, craft and local culture, many housed in the traditional stone warehouses that once stored rice and other staples. The winding back streets just off the canal, are lined with contemporary craft galleries, small restaurants, sweet stores, independent coffee roasters and stores selling denim, which Okayama is famous for.
Chuo, Hon-machi, Kurashiki-shi, Okayama

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