Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter: Live the Edo Period in Okayama
Saki Yoshida August 31, 2017
Have you ever imagined what time traveling is like? One day, I gazed into the distance as if I was captivated by something. As soon as I walked upon the street, time stopped, and I went back to Japan of the past. It felt as if I went back to that time 300 years ago where my ancestors lived their life: the Edo period. I was familiar with this scenery, and even started to feel nostalgic. There is certainly something important that will not be forgotten about in Japan at this place in time. So I went on a journey. Kurashiki is one of the most beautiful places in Japan, and yet remains unknown by many people. You will experience Japanese history in every way from your feet, to your eyes. Kurashiki in located in Okayama prefecture. From Okayama City (where I was born), it only takes around 20 minutes by train to get there. By walking for 10 minutes from Kurashiki station, the first of many great parts of my journey began, which is a beautiful historical area called Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区). You'll get to see the historical buildings that have been beautifully preserved from the Edo period as well as the rock bridges and the canal along them. The canal was once important for trading, and remains unchanged. The good part about Kurashiki is that it is not as crowded as it is in Kyoto, yet you can still enjoy walking in the traditional part of Japan. My personal recommendation for when to go is in the morning because it is much less crowded. As for the restaurants, there are not many, but I can recommend this place called “Yuurin-an" (有鄰庵), which is also used as a guesthouse. They are famous for tamago kake gohan (卵かけご飯), a mix of raw egg with rice and soy sauce, and Shiawase Purin (しあわせプリン) or "Happy Pudding". During the afternoon, they serve a delicious lunch as well. As for drinks, I definitely encourage you to order peach juice since it will be fresh and because Okayama is well known for having great peaches. The glasses they use are absolutely beautiful. According to them, they are handmade by a local craftswoman in Okayama. I love how they treasure local people and their products. The Shiawase pudding, which I ordered, has a cute smiling face on it. You should take pictures of it to remember those memories you made in Kurashiki, and the friends you will make. You can't miss the sweets in Kurashiki either. On the main street, there are some shops that sell sweets I love. Kurashiki Momoko (くらしき桃子) is Kurashiki's local brand store that sell sweets such as jelly, ice cream and gelato. They use our local fresh fruits as ingredients. My personal favorite there is the peach flavored soft-serve ice cream. If you would like to enjoy adapting yourself to the surroundings, you might want to wear a kimono or yukata while walking in Kurashiki. You can wear yukata from shops that sell them cheap. Around June to September, which is the summer season in Japan, there is a shop called Vasara that lets you rent them and helps you try them on. You should check it out, I highly recommend it. Vasara's website is here. When summer ends, there's an event that only local people know about called "Jazz Street" which is held at the beginning of November. The mixture of jazz performed by amazing artists and the traditional Japanese scenery will for sure entertain you. The Jazz Street website (in Japanese) is here. Now, I’m back to present-day Japan. OK maybe I haven't really time traveled, however, after visiting Kurashiki, I noticed that my mind is more enriched. So the journey continues.