JAPAN Inspiration Gallery 11 Japan
Back to Listing


This small town's Bikan historical quarter is just half a dozen preserved streets around a picturesque willow-lined canal, but is richly rewarding and well worth visiting en-route between Kyoto and Hiroshima. A welcome relief from bustling cities, it is the perfect size for a leisurely stroll alongside small wooden boats gliding downstream. The old black and white trading warehouses that line the canal are still intact in their original condition, and the boat passengers’ cone-shaped 'kasa' straw hats add to the traditional Edo-period Japanese atmosphere. This rural haven feels like a pocket of living Japanese history, as rickshaws trundle around the narrow, cobbled streets and herons and 'koi' fish dart about in the water.

The pretty buildings have now been converted into museums and gift shops, where all manner of uniquely Japanese crafts and fine confectionery can be found. At the heart of the Bikan quarter is the Ohara Museum opened in 1930, which houses a surprisingly inspired collection of western art curated by the owner, with the advice of painter Torajiro who studied in Europe. Rodin, Monet and Matisse, to name a few, are all featured here. Since then an equally impressive 20th century arts wing has been added, including works by Warhol, Lichtenstein and Pollock, as well as a wing showcasing Japanese pottery, woodcuts and other crafts.Scattered through the museum sit Henry Moore sculptures and a beautifully manicured garden, complete with trickling stream and classical stone bridges. One may catch glimpses of traditionally dressed geisha and newlywed couples here, for this particular spot is a popular backdrop for professional photographs.

The Museum of Folk Crafts, displaying quality textiles and ceramics, can also be found along the Bikan canal, as can the Japan Rural Toy Museum. This immense collection of Japanese toys is remarkably well-arranged and makes for an entertaining visit for all ages. Keep an eye out for charming coffee shops that serve traditional recipes as well as hidden-away local shrines and tiny temples. A cluster of modern artisan workshops have recently been added to bring about a fresh, lively atmosphere, offering an alternative to the traditional Edo-period preserved town. We highly recommend staying the night here at one of the traditional inns alongside the mercifully pylon-free canal-side which is even more beautiful by night. Spending an evening at a 'ryokan' with your own kimono, slippers, wooden 'ofuro' hot bath and a gourmet 'kaiseki' dinner will provide an unforgettable stay.

Kurashiki truly exudes a charm to rival the prettiest streets of Kyoto, at a gentler pace without the crowds and makes the perfect pitstop to inject some tranquillity into an itinerary. For art lovers, Naoshima island and Matsue (which is home to Adachi Art Museum) can easily be reached from here. Otherwise, Okayama is a convenient next port of call with its multiple bullet train links around Japan.

Kurashiki bikan gusta.jpg Kurashiki bikan gusta.jpg
Kurashki Japan 9 Kurashki Japan 9
Kurashki Japan 1 Kurashki Japan 1
Kurashki Japan 13 Kurashki Japan 13
Kurashki Japan 10 Kurashki Japan 10
Kurashki Japan Kurashki Japan
Kurashki Japan 3 Kurashki Japan 3
Kurashki Japan 12 Kurashki Japan 12
Kurashki Japan 5 Kurashki Japan 5
Kurashki Japan 4 Kurashki Japan 4
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
Susan Heller

Client Testimonials

Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences