Kurashiki City (倉敷市), the second largest city in Okayama Prefecture, is a popular tourist destination. The town is most famous for its western influenced canal district and the Ohara Museum of Art. The city tree is the camphor tree and flower is the wisteria. The city bird is the kingfisher. Over 475,000 people live in Kurashiki.
The canal district is what sets Kurashiki's urban landscape apart from other Japanese cities. This western influenced area was the center of Kurashiki's modernization.
To reach the canal district, walk out the main entrance (the hotel side) of the station and down the main street. There are maps at both exits of the station and information written in English and Japanese about the area.
Ohara Museum of Art
Kurashiki's Ohara Museum of Art was Japan's first western-style art museum. The main building's unique appearance has made it an icon of Kurashiki. It opened in 1930 thanks to the patronage of Ohara Magosaburo who built a fortune running local industries. He inherited the Kurashiki Spinning Factory at age 24 and later ran a bank, an electric company and a newspaper. A faithful Christian, he gave much of his wealth back to the community through orphanages, scholarships and by building hospitals.
One of these financial beneficiaries was famous western-style artist, Kojima Torajiro. Ohara Magosaburo sent him on trips to Europe on three occasions to study art and bring back examples. Upon Kojima's death in 1929, the Ohara Museum of Art was designed by Ohara Magosaburo as a tribute to his friend.
The museum now takes up whole block. The original main building contains works from Picasso to Andy Warhol and everything between. A fair number of Japanese artists are featured as well. The museum's annex features modern art. Additional buildings display a collection of Asian craft art and a collection of ancient art featuring pieces mainly from China.
Kurashiki Tivoli Park followed in a long line of copies of famous landmarks outside of Japan rebuilt in Japan. The original Tivoli Park was built in 1843 to entertain the people of Copenhagen, Denmark. Its copy closed at the end of 2008 following a number of years of declining admissions. It did capture at least some of the atmosphere of the original.
The Sanyo Shinkansen line's closest station to the city is called Shinkurashiki Station (新倉敷駅). Passengers traveling by Shinkansen must then transfer to a local Sanyo Honsen train to reach the city center at Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅). At Kurshiki Station there is a handy tourist information booth right in the station after you exit the platform area.
Website: Kurashiki Tourism Website (Japanese)
Submitted by mbystedt on Wed, 04/20/2011 - 21:01