Kurashiki City (倉敷市) is more than just the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区). Not too far from this popular attraction, there are a couple of unique spots that might excite you if you are a collector or a Japanese sword admirer. Just a 40 minute train ride away, you will be able to source Japan’s best denim from Kojima District. And, you will get one of the best views of the Seto Ōhashi Bridge (瀬戸大橋) and the Seto Inland Sea!
A couple of the best cherry blossom spots in Okayama Prefecture are also located in Kurashiki City for your photography sessions when you visit the city in spring (^_-)-☆. Below is a list of attractions in Kurashiki City that cover various interests for you to pick from.
- Kurashiki Historical Bikan Quarter (倉敷美観地区)
- Kurashiki Moneybox Museum (倉敷貯金箱博物館)
- Achi Shrine (阿智神社)
- Kurashiki Art Sword Museum (倉敷刀剣美術館)
- Mt. Tanematsu Park (種松山公園西園地)
- Entūji Temple (円通寺)
- Shōshūhō (鐘秀峰) – The Summit of Mt. Washu (鷲羽山)
- Kojima Jeans Street (児島ジーンズストリート)
- Betty Smith Jeans Museum (ベティスミス ジーンズミュージアム＆ヴィレッジ)
- Kaze-no Michi (風の道)
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区)
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is also known as Japan’s “Little Venice”. It is a historical area comprising classical Japanese architecture and a gorgeous canal. With the canal surrounded by unique traditional Japanese housing, it isn’t just one of the main attractions for tourists visiting Okayama Prefecture, but also a popular Japanese drama/movie shooting location!
With a variety of shops, eateries & galleries in the area, you can easily spend a whole day here without getting bored (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
As there are many attractions just in this area, we have summarised the spots that are worthwhile visiting in another article – Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter!
Kurashiki Moneybox Museum (倉敷貯金箱博物館)
When you were a child, you might have had a piggy bank given to you by your parents to teach you how to save money. Regardless of what sort of memory you have with that piggy bank, you will be amazed by the piggy bank collections that they have at Kurashiki Moneybox Museum. Not only you will find the traditional Japanese piggy banks, but there are also money boxes of shapes of all sorts of well-known anime and Disney characters. They even have piggy banks from around the world!
Judging by the number of the statue of Nipper on the museum’s roof, the owner of the museum must be a big fan of the painting – His Master’s Voice painted by Francis Barraud. In one part of the house, the Dog Museum also has Nipper, big and small, statue and printed images on objects everywhere!
You will also find antique toys in another area of the mouse. The toys in their Toy Museum differ from the toys in the Japanese Folk Toy Museum (日本郷土玩具館) in Kurashiki Bikan Quarters that they were from a relatively recent period. As you will see for yourself when you visit the museum, the toy collection here is strongly influenced by the American cartoon.
Kurashiki Moneybox Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information
- The museum is opened from 10:30 am to 5 pm daily except Thursday
- It will cost 300 yen to access all three museums for adults, 200 yen for primary school and middle school students. For kids that are too young for primary school, it is free for them
- From Ohara Museum Of Art (大原美術館) in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, it is a 5 mins walk
- From JR Kurashiki Station, it is around a 15 mins walk
Achi Shrine (阿智神社)
If you are looking for a shrine to visit when you come to Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, we will recommend Achi Shrine that is located at the top of Mt. Tsurugata (鶴形山) at its north. Not only the shrine has a history of more than 1,700 years, but there is also a super old and huge wisteria tree that is said to be between 300 – 500 years old! The bark is thick so thick that it has a diameter of 1.5 meters Σ(ﾟДﾟ).
But as a test of the worshipers’ determination, to get to the shrine, you have to climb through around 200 staircases that are divided into three sections. As an encouragement, each section is named after the nickname of 50 years old, 60 years old, and 70 years old, symbolising you will be able to live till that old. Whilst living past 50 years old isn’t considered a rare thing nowadays, many didn’t make it back then!
The main god that is enshrined here looks after the prosperity of your business, perfect for the small businesses at Kurashiki Historical Bikan Quarter now and the trading businesses a few hundred years ago. Apart from the main worship hall, there are quite a few smaller halls enshrined different gods scattered around the ground of the Achi Shrine.
Festivals at Achi Shrine
Back to the wisteria at Achi Shrine, the season of the wisteria flowers is from late April to early May. In early May, the three-day event, Fujimi-no-Kai (藤見の会) is held to entertain the shrine’s worshipers. Traditional music is performed under the wisteria pergola from 10 am to 3 pm each day, with various events such as traditional noh play taking place in other parts of the shrine. The most exciting event is probably the performance where females are dressed up in traditional warrior gear and firing guns that were used a couple of hundred years ago!
Achi Shrine is one of those shrines in Japan that have many festivals and events throughout the year.
- Kurashiki Hinamatsuri (倉敷雛めぐり) – Kurashiki’s Doll’s Festival: late Feb to mid-Mar from 9 am to 3 pm
- This is your chance to see some rare Hina dolls on display
- Cherry Blossom Festival – early Apr from 10 am to 3 pm
- With 300 yen, you will be able to admire the flowers with a bowl of matcha tea and a piece of Japanese sweet
- Spring Festival (春季例大祭): the third Saturday in May from 10 am and from 5:30 pm
- Rituals and traditional dancing will be performed
- Kids’ Sumo (子供相撲大会): the third Sunday of May from 10 am
- It is an event for the local kids to show off their sumo skills
- Autumn Festival (秋季例大祭): the third Saturday and Sunday of October
- On Saturday
- Well-decorated floats are pulled through throughout the Kurashiki Bikan Quarter from 8 am
- Ritual is performed at the shrine from 10 am
- Traditional dancing is performed at the shrine from 5:30 pm
- On Sunday from 7 am, around 200 men and women will parade throughout the city with a smaller portable float. At quite a few places around Kurashiki Bikan Quarter, different rituals and performances will be taken place as well. These include shrine maidens travelling on the traditional boats on the Kurashiki River
- On Saturday
- Autumn Kurashiki Martial Art Festival (秋季倉敷古武道祭): on the 3rd of Nov from 10 am
- This is where people who have been mastering their Japanese martial art demonstrate their results of training
Achi Shrine’s Other Flower’s Blooming Schedule
- Cherry blossom: late Mar to early Apr
- Azalea: mid-Apr to mid-May
How to Get to Achi Shrine
It is a 15 mins walk from JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅). Note it might take longer depending on how fast you climb those staircases…
Kurashiki Art Sword Museum (倉敷刀剣美術館)
Rather than a museum, this attraction is more like a display room and a facility that helps sword owners to determine the value of their knives and swords.
Nonetheless, for all the Japanese sword fans out there, it is still an exciting place to be at. Because if you request it, you will most likely get to actually touch one of the swords!
For a more detailed understanding of how the Japanese sword is made, we will recommend you to visit Bizen Osafune Touken no Sato Bizen Osafune Sword Museum (備前おさふね刀剣の里 備前長船刀剣博物館) in Bizen City close by. If you choose your date right, you will be able to see how blades are forged!
Apart from the free sword value determination service, it is also a place for people to buy and sell Japanese swords. As all the swords that are sold here have been registered, no license is required if you are interested in buying any. However, only those who have Japanese citizenship are allowed to buy them at the moment.
Important: As knives and swords are on display and some can be easily reached, children under the age of 6 won’t be able to access this museum for their own safety.
Kurashiki Art Sword Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information
- The museum is opened from 10 am to 6 pm daily except Monday. The last admission is at 5:30 pm. If Monday is a public holiday, the museum will close on the next business day instead
- The admission fee is 1,000 yen
- It is a 4 mins walk from JR Chayamachi Station (茶屋町駅). Note this station is not on the same line as JR Kurashiki Station
- You can also take bus services that are bound for Chayamachi (茶屋町) operating by Shimoden Bus (下電バス) from JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅) bus stop no. 7 and get off at Isozaikiminki-kinenkan-Mae (磯崎眠亀記念館前)
- For the timetable for the route, please refer to HERE. As the timetable is in Japanese, please use the Japanese name of the bus stops to read it
- The first page of the pdf is for weekdays, the second page is for Saturdays and, the third page is for Sundays and public holidays
Mt. Tanematsu Park (種松山公園西園地)
Mt. Tanematsu (種松山) is a low mountain with an altitude of 258 meters located south of Kurashiki City. From late October all the way to June, various types of flowers bloom one after another making it a popular spot amongst the locals as well as residents of close-by cities.
There are also Japanese gardens and ponds in the park which we thought are nice additional features for adults to appreciate. If you come with children, leave them to enjoy themselves at the playsets next to the gardens while you have some peaceful moments in the garden that blend into the surrounds nicely.
HERE is a map (in Japanese) for you to get some ideas of what to expect on the day.
The types of flowers that you can expect to see in the park and their seasons are as per below:
- Plum blossom (200 trees): late Feb to late Mar
- Cherry blossom (1,200 trees): from mid-Mar to early Apr
- Wisteria (460 meters long pergola): early to mid-May
- Azealia (3,500 trees): mid-Apr to early May
- Rose (3,000 trees): mid-May to late Jun and mid-Oct to mid-Nov
- Hydrangea (13,000 trees): early to late Jun
- Camellia (3,000 trees): late Oct to late Feb
How to Get to Mt. Tanematsu Park
- From Mizushima Rinkai Railway (水島臨海鉄道) to Mizushima Station (水島駅), it is a 20 mins drive
- From JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅) or JR Chayamachi Station (茶屋町駅), it is a 30 mins drive
- The bus services that stop at the closest bus stop – Koshinden-Minami (古新田南) that only departs from JR Kojima Station (児島駅) between 7 and 8 in the morning and from JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅) between 4 and 6 in the late afternoon. From the bus stop, it will be another 30 mins hike to the park
Entūji Temple (円通寺)
Entūji is a temple that was built more than 1,200 years ago. It is well known as the temple that Ryōkan – one of the top monks in the Edo period (1603 – 1867), was trained at. It is also the 7th temple of the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.
With the temple located on top of a hill, the whole hill is known as the Entūji Park. The park not only provides its visitors with a wide view of the Seto Inland Sea but also the scenery of colourful flowers in spring and summer as well as beautiful foliage in autumn!
As one of the popular cherry blossom spots in the city, from late March to early April, the park will be relatively more crowded. And on the second Sunday of April, Ryōkan Chakai (良寛茶会) is held at the temple for visitors to experience the elegance of the Japanese tea ceremony (*´ω｀).
Other flowers such as Azalea will be blooming from mid-April to mid-May followed by pink lotus flowers blossoming in early summer.
How to Get to Entūji Temple
From Shin-Kurashiki Station (新倉敷駅), take bus services operating by Ryobi Bus (両備バス) and get off at either Tamashimachūō-Chō (玉島中央町) or Inari-Machi (稲荷町). From the bus stop, it will be 20 mins hiking up the hill before you get to the temple.
At Shōshūhō (鐘秀峰), the summit of Mt. Washu or Washuzan (鷲羽山) in the Seto Island Inland Sea National Park, will get you a panoramic view of 50 islands of different sizes, together with the famous Seto Ōhashi Bridge!
Also, the sunset from Mt. Washu was chosen to be one of the 100 Best Sunsets In Japan. This is why it is a spot that you shouldn’t miss!
To find out more on how to get there as well as the best time to be there, please refer to our Shōshūhō Article (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Kojima Jeans Street (児島ジーンズストリート)
The Kojima Jeans Street is practically the symbol of the Kojima District that is around 40 minutes away by train from JR Kurashiki Station. As the origin of Japan’s denim industry, as soon as you alight from the train, you will be surprised by the amount of jeans-related decorations!
Even if you aren’t interested in shopping, this is still a spot that is worthwhile to drop by and see. The scale of how they advertise their local denim industry is the grandest that we have ever seen. Even the public toilet on the street comes in as a pair of jeans (´▽｀*).
For more information, please refer to our Kojima Article!
Betty Smith Jeans Museum (ベティスミス ジーンズミュージアム＆ヴィレッジ)
Although with an English name, Betty Smith is actually a domestic Jeans maker that was established in 1962. The museum that was opened by the company in 2003 consists of a couple of buildings all within 2 minutes walking distance featuring two museums, a workshop, an outlet, and Japan’s oldest jeans factory.
It is a perfect place to learn the history of the denim industry especially if you can read Japanese (otherwise the photos, equipment, and denim clothes on display help map an overall picture).
You can also decorate your own pair of jeans here at their workshop for 7,700 yen (fancier options are available with a higher price tag). The experience at their workshop starts with choosing your pair of jeans from a variety of styles and fabrics. After picking the buttons and rivets, it is time for you to attach these small items to your jeans! Lastly, the staff will sew the leather label onto your jeans before your unique pair of jeans is completed (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Tips: If you want to further customise your jeans such as making them torn, discuss with the staff first. They are quite accommodating except you do need to pay for these special treatments.
Betty Smith Jeans Museum’s Opening Hours, and Access Information
- The museum is opened from 10 am to 5 pm daily except from the end of Dec to the beginning of Jan
- It is a 7 mins walk from Kojima Students Museum (児島学生服資料館), a 30 mins walk from JR Kojima Station
- You can also catch the bus – Fureai-Gō (ふれあい号) from JR Kojima Station’s bus stop no. 4 and get off at Jeans Museum Entrance. The timetable for each service can be found HERE. As the timetable is in Japanese, please read it by referencing back to the Japanese characters
Kaze-no Michi (風の道)
Also in Kojima District, there is a 6.3 km track that is perfect for anyone who enjoys trekking and cycling. The track starts from the old Shimotsui Dentetsu’s Kojima Station which is just a 15 minute walk from JR Kojima Station (児島駅).
Starting from the Old Kojima Station, you will not only be greeted by the abundant nature of Kojima as you hike or cycle uphill to the old Washuzan Station, but the magnificent panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea also unfolds in front of you!
As you reach the terminal stop – old Shimotsui Station (下津井駅), the trains that used to run on the track from 1914 – 1991 will also be there for you to explore (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
For more information about where you can rent a bike from around the station, please refer to our Kojima Article!
What to Do and Where to Go in Okayama Prefecture’s Capital – Okayama City
When you visit Okayama Prefecture, you can’t possibly not pay the capital – Okayama City a visit. You will find one of the top 100 Japanese castles there and also, the castle’s garden was chosen as one of the best three Japanese gardens!
And the city is a lot more than these two most popular attractions. To find out the other fascinating spots, please refer to our Okayama City Article.