Bikan Historical Quarter, Kurashiki

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Sword-wielding samurai’s used to tread these Kurashiki streets back in the Edo period when the Shogunate controlled this port town whose canal was the main thoroughfare for transporting goods to and fro.

The Bikan Historical Quarter has been recognized as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, its storehouses made characteristically with white walls and black tiles built to store goods, specially rice.

img_6313img_6250Before being dispatched to farther cities, rice from surrounding areas were collected in the city’s many storehouses (“kura” in Japanese); thus, the city’s name.

Now a national historical preservation district, even the Stock Exchange, tourist information centers, and a bank are encased in architecture consistent with Kurashiki’s glorious provincial past.

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Kurashiki Stock Exchange Building keeps its restored historical quarter facade but is modern inside.

A prominent person from Kurashiki was Mr. Magosaburō Ōhara, who owned the Ohara (cotton) Spinning Mill which has since evolved to become today’s Ivy Square, an ivy-clad brick building complex with a hotel and restaurant…

Mr. Ohara also had a bank whose building will soon be turned into a museum.

The Ohara Museum of Art housed the first collection of Western artworks in Japan permanently as recommended by Mr. Ohara’s protege scholar Japanese artist, Kojima Torajirō.  More artworks from Western and Japanese artists have since been added.

Ohara Museum of Art behind me:

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The Ohara House is an interesting stop. Here is the kitchen, one of my favorite rooms in the house 🙂

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At the Ohara House kitchen

Outside the main house, the structures were used for storage.

This is the garden view from the family dining room:

img_6403A bamboo sink from the side of the garden has been updated with a motion-sensored faucet:

The Ohara Gardens, perfect for mini-forest bathing.

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Yurinso Villa is the detached house which Mr. Ohara built for his wife:

The Museum of Folkcraft is just one among many museums to visit here.

There are many souvenir shops selling traditional crafts, artwork, food specialties (with samples), even a Denim Street where you can buy everything denim including ice cream!

Boat rides along the canal are available but come early to get one of the limited time slots!

These lovely swans testify to the sweet pace in Kurashiki. Here from the bridge, all at once you get a 360 degree view to the canal, Ohara Museum of Art, Yurinso Villa (orange walls, green tiled roof, which is the house Mr. Ohara built for his wife), and the Ohara House (white walls black tiled roof).  I was standing exactly where the short walk from Ivy Square ends into the canal when I took this video.

On this day, a typhoon was coming to Kurashiki so even if I had gotten a  boat ride ticket, by noon, the rest of the rides were cancelled. I was given a refund of JPY500. Winds were gaining strength as the typhoon approached.

By God’s grace, even if the train service and boat service would close down after noon on this day, I was able to complete a very lovely sunny tour with my beloved guide, Hisako Kashihara.  With very short notice, Hisako-san kindly agreed to move our tour a few hours earlier in consideration of the unexpected approaching typhoon. I thought it would be as easy as well to move my pre-booked 12 noon lunch but the restaurant I booked at was immovable as a mountain. At first I was perplexed at why they could not adjust the time.  But after my lunch I realized it was the Lord’s way to bless me. When Hisako-san picked me up, she said that it had been raining hard outside while I dined.  I didn’t even know it. The ground was wet and the skies were grey when I went back outside.

If the restaurant had agreed to move my appointment, my tour would have been dampened. Literally. Lord, please help me to remember to give thanks in all circumstances and not to be irritated when people do not yield to what I want. You know better and You have a better plan. I may not have expressed my disappointment but inside I was.

Kurashiki, Japan is about an hour away from Osaka. (From Shin-Osaka to Shin-Okayama Station, 45 minutes and from there, 17 minutes to Kurashiki Station by local train.)

Months earlier, a mid-2018 typhoon flooded parts of Kurashiki which caused a massive dent to its tourism industry.  Thank God, the Bikan Historical Quarter was spared but many people had the wrong idea that this was damaged.  I hope that when you read this post, you will want to visit this charming, picturesque canal town teeming with culture, heritage, art, food, food, architecture, and… Instagrammable sights to appreciate! 🙂

 

In honor of the bird who perfectly entered my phone lens view just when I captured a shot of the boat (as appears on this post’s cover photo), I want to reflect on this verse:

Rev 19:16 On [Jesus’s] robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God.

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