Japan Atlas: Communities 


Location: Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture

Kurashiki City
298.10 sq km (115.1 sq ml.) Population: 435,869 (Sep. 30, 2000)
Preserved Area: 20.7 ha (51.1 acres)


Culture-rich, historic town

Kurashiki flourished as a distribution base for goods transported on the Kurashiki River during the Edo period (1603-1869). The Kurashiki River flows through the center of the city, and even today, storehouse-mansions where rice, cotton, and other goods that passed through Kurashiki in the Edo period were stored remain along its banks.

The roofs of these storehouse-mansions were laid with techniques used around the 6th century and the windows are wooden latticed windows. The walls are either simple white walls, or white with flat black tiles laid on top for increased strength, and the joints are strengthened with white mortar, producing a checked pattern of white on a black background. These buildings create rows of beautiful houses with a simple overall color scheme that blends well with the willow trees, and this is why Kurashiki is called Shirokabe no machi or "the white-wall town."

The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area is representative of Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, located in western Japan, and it has been selected as a Preservation District for Group of Historic Building by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

In this district, electric power lines are buried underground, train platform walls are painted in the same design as the storehouse-mansions, old-fashioned wooden mailboxes with a wood-like finish are used, and stores use mainly white in keeping with the surrounding scenery. Art museums, archaeology museums, and folklore museums are found throughout the city, creating a town where visitors can fully savor the atmosphere of old Japan.

Photos: The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area (Okayama Prefecture)

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