Skip to content

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter: Preserved Edo Period Canal With Traditional Boat Tour

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter in Okayama

A trip to Okayama, the second largest city in the Chūgoku region, isn’t complete without spending a day at Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. With its preserved townscape, museums, and a scenic canal lined with willow trees, the historic merchant district is the perfect destination for immersing yourself in the atmosphere of old Japan. 

Well-preserved canal area from the Edo Period

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - canal areaImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Once an important area for the distribution of supplies and goods in southern Okayama, the city of Kurashiki was a bustling merchant district which prospered during the Edo Period. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - boat tourImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

To get a glimpse of the city’s glory days, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter has preserved part of the historic townscape. There, you’ll see a serene canal that was built to facilitate easy transportation of various goods from the warehouses to nearby ports.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - boat tourImage credit: @hidechan_photo

Today, the waterway is used less for commercial purposes and more for tourism. Visitors can hop on a traditional boat tour that will lead them down rows of weeping willow trees and storehouses with namako walls, which are traditional lattice-patterned walls for fireproofing.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - boat tour
Image credit: @nakashun_no

Tickets for the boat tour go for ¥500 (~USD2.45) per adult, and ¥250 (~USD1.89) for children. 

Historic townscape with quaint shops & museums  

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - walking areaImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Along the narrow canal and spread out across the district are former storehouses that are operating as cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, and miscellaneous goods shops today.  

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - walking areaImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter -rickshawImage credit: Okayama Sightseeing Web

Though plenty of fashionable, modern shops can be found at the historical quarter, most of them have retained the area’s distinctive traditional exterior, which makes for an atmospheric shopping experience. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - alleyImage credit: @yu_shima_photo

Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, the district is a fun area to explore on foot, with plenty of small alleyways to follow and hidden spots to uncover. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter- tourist centre
Kurashiki Tourist Information Office.
Image credit: @nikoseesan

Besides trendy shops and cafes, a few Western buildings are also dotted around the area. Look out for the Kurashiki Tourist Information Office, a building which was erected as the city’s town hall in 1917. 

Now, it serves as an accessible spot for those seeking travel information, as well as a rest area with toilets and vending machines. Tickets for the boat tour can also be purchased here. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - ohara museum of artOhara Museum of Art.
Image credit:
Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide

Numerous museums can be found in the district, though the most notable one is the Ohara Museum of Art, the first private museum in Japan to feature Western art. 

Art enthusiasts will be able to spot many familiar names as the museum houses an impressive collection of Western art by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and more.

Getting to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - canal areaImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

The main canal area is easily accessible from Kurashiki Station, which is a short 15-minute train ride (¥500, ~USD2.45) from Okayama Station. From the station’s south exit, walk for about 15 minutes – you’ll arrive at the historical quarter after passing through a local shopping arcade. 

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter - walking areaImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Most of the attraction spots and museums are concentrated around the canal area, so take your time to explore Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter on foot. 

Canal Area
Address: Honmachi, Kurashiki, 710-0054 Okayama
Opening hours: 24 Hours, Daily
Contact: 0864-21-0224 | Kurashiki Official Website

Kurashiki Tourist Information Centre
Address: 1 Chome-4-8 Central, Kurashiki, 710-0046 Okayama
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily | 10am-4pm (29th December-3rd January)
Boat tour’s opening hours: Mon-Sun 9.30am-5pm (Closed on 2nd Mondays) (Mar-Nov) | Sat-Sun & Public Holidays 9.30am-5pm (Closed on Weekdays, Year End & New Year Holidays) (Dec-Feb)
Contact: 0864-22-0542 

Ohara Museum of Art
Address: 1 Chome-1-15 Central, Kurashiki, 710-8575 Okayama
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Mondays) (Last admission at 4.30pm)
Admission: ¥1,500 (~USD11.15) for adults, ¥500 (~USD3.72) for high, middle, and elementary school students
Contact: 0864-22-0005 | Ohara Museum of Art Website

For other things to do in Okayama, check out:

Cover image adapted from (clockwise from left to right): @nakashun_no, Okayama Sightseeing Web and Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide