The old merchant quarter known as Bikan Chiku (Bikan Historical Area) is a famous sightseeing area in Kurashiki City located in Okayama Prefecture.
Kurashiki is approximately 10 miles from Okayama City, the prefectural capital of Okayama. Many of the city’s former white-walled store houses have been transformed into museums, boutique shops and cafes. As a matter of fact, Kurashiki loosely translates to town of storehouses. The city was fortunate enough to escape the ravages of World War II and as a result, many of the original storehouses, mills, and shops remain in beautiful condition.
The city’s preserved canal area dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867), when Kurashiki served as an important rice distribution center. The canal area is a ten-minute walk from Kurashiki Station’s south exit.
Right outside the north exit of the Kurashiki Station, you will find the shuttered remains of an amusement park once used to be referred to as the Copenhagen of Japan. With a beautiful collection of trees, flowers and rides intended to recreate Copenhagen, Denmark, Tivoli Park was, for many years, the second most popular tourist attraction in Kurashiki (after Bikan Chiku). Due to mounting financial troubles the park was shuttered at the end of 2008.
Kurashiki is also the home of Japan’s first Western art museum, the Ohara Museum of Art. Established in 1930 by Magosaburo Ohara, it displays paintings by El Greco, Monet, Matisse, Gauguin and Renoir.
Moving away from the Bikan Chiku area, you will find a modern Kurashiki just like any other modern city in Japan but still there exists a rare piece of old Japan, one that gives a sense of where people lived and worked.
PHOTO CREDITS: Moritoshi Inaba