In Kurashiki the spotlight is on Japan’s commercial past, made ridiculously picturesque by the passage of time. This river port was a vital hub of the rice trade throughout the Edo period. For several hundred years, its network of canals, lined with sturdy warehouses, teemed with heavily laden barges and the air rang with the cries of boatmen, porters and overseers.
A small portion of willow-fringed waterway has been preserved and forms the scenic focal point of the Bikan area, and the little wooden boats that now drift silently along it are ferrying visitors on a trip through a rarely seen part of Japan’s history. The white-walled, black-roofed storehouses and the imposing homes of the merchants who owned them have been turned into an appealing mix of museums, galleries, boutiques and cafés that merit thorough investigation. Hidden within their walls are everything from Monets and handmade bitchu washi rice paper to long-running businesses selling ice-cream made with the particularly luscious fruit from the surrounding area.
A Kurashiki trip is a rare chance to discover a side of Japan’s past you won’t find elsewhere, so speak to our destination specialists about adding it to your holiday plans.