【Okayama】Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, Preserved as a “Bikan” or Aesthetic Area by the Local Government of Kurashiki2015.03.05

03/05 倉敷

The district prospered as a local commerce center after a magistrate’s office was established in the early Edo Period. A narrow canal in the Kurashiki River was constructed through the center of the city and white earthen-walled warehouses were built along the canal to facilitate trade in the region. The warehouses called “kura”, which is the origin of the city’s name, were made to store commodities such as rice harvested in the surrounding areas. These well-preserved historical buildings and the canal with weeping willows on the sides provide visitors a glimpse into an old Japanese townscape.

Now, the best season of the year to visit the quarter is coming soon – a cherry blossom season in the spring. From late March to early April, visitors will be fascinated to see cherry trees in bloom along the canal, which are also well reflected on the water in the river particularly at night. In addition, the Sakura Festival is held during around that period every year at the nearby Tsurugata-yama Park holding about 120 cherry trees.

It is recommended that you visit the district in the evening as well. With night-time lights that turn up along the canal at sundown, the area is illuminated with a faint glow, creating a fantastic contrast between white-walled houses and the river.

Way back in the Edo period, the Kurashiki city was directly governed by the Edo shogunate because of its strategic importance in trade business. A large amount of rice produced in the neighboring areas were brought into the city and kept in storehouses before being shipped to major towns such as Osaka and Edo (Tokyo).

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