Because of its preserved streets, its history and its natural scenery, Kurashiki is the foremost sightseeing spot of Okayama Prefecture. In 1979, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area was designated as a Preservation District of Historical Buildings.
The old town of Kurashiki embodies the atmosphere of the Edo period. The town has a subtle harmony of white walls, black 'hongawarabuki', 'nameko' ('sea cucumber') walls, warehouses, lattice windows and the willow-lined river. The town also has many cultural attractions, such as the Ohara Museum of Art. Beautiful buildings, such as the Kurashiki Museum of Folk Craft and the Kurashiki Museum of Archaeology, may be visited. In addition, the Kibi Tumulus is an historic site dating to the ancient Kibi kingdom, which prospered in past.
Other sites around Kurashiki that are popular to visit include Mt Kijo, the birthplace of Momotaro, as well as the historic Kibi-Tsu shrines. Moreover, Kurashiki is known for its scenic views of the beautiful Seto Inland Sea. From the peak of Mt Washu, there is a splendid view of scattered islands among silent waves and the magnificent Seto Ohashi Bridge.
The House for Castle Guards (Oshiroban Yashiki) was a residence for samurais of the Kishu domain. It is located in the town of Tono, Matsuzaka City, Mie prefecture.
The House for Castle Guards was built in the third year of the Bunkyu period and 20 guards of Matsuzaka Castle and their families lived there. It consists of two main buildings, a front garden, a patch, Nanryu Shrine and a mud-walled warehouse, surrounded by Maki-fences.
The two main buildings of the house are designated as an Important Cultural Asset. The mud-walled warehouse is a Cultural Asset designated by Mie prefecture.
The descendants have maintained the house and they actually live there. There are very few samurai group houses still existing in Japan and no other has the structure of two buildings with a lane between them.
Matsuzaka City has borrowed one building and renovated it, and it has been open to the public since 1990. This is an unusual historical space that has been silently passed down to us complete with Maki-fences and stone paving. Row houses such as these are often seen in samurai dramas, and show that the taste of the Edo period is still attractive today.
Inside Kanazawa Castle grounds near the old castle keep are the remains of a 'sanjikken-nagaya' warehouse. This two-storey building is 65m long and 5.5m wide, and was originally built for military purposes. It is said that it had been first used for storing rice, then for storing muskets.
The building is a single structure with the entrance on the south side. The roof is made of lead tiles and the hips of the white-washed walls are decorated with 'sea cucumber' tiles. Across the hip of the wall of the second storey lies a keel of lead tiles.
It is said that there were once 14 warehouses in all inside the grounds of Kanazawa Castle including the one above, so it can be imagined that the view at the time would have been grand.
The single surviving sanjikken-nagaya was rebuilt in Annsei 5 (1858), leaving it and the Ishikawa Gate the only original remains in existence in the castle grounds. The Sanjikken-nagaya was designated as an Important National Cultural Asset in Showa 32.
The Kumagai family were influential and important merchants during the second half of the Edo period (early 19th century). Their old residence is in the town of Omori, Ota-shi, Shimane Prefecture. In those days, the residence was also used to receive officers of the daimyo (feudal lords) and junkenshi (ambassador/inspectors from the Shogun).
Because of severe deterioration of the house, it has been undergoing some renovation since December 2001.
The Kumagaike Family Residence has been designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is the largest existing residence of a wealthy merchant within a preserved residential area. The total area of the residence is about 1,500m2. The main building is a two-story wooden house of 30 rooms, with an area totaling about 265m2 (160 jyo). Within the compound, there are five warehouses for storing rice and other miscellany.
The building itself is astonishing, with elaborate interior decorations, such as 'fusuma' (sliding doors) with a cloud design called 'kumo-tatewaki-monyou'; and 'yoshido' (matchstick blinds), which let in cool, comfortable breezes in summer.
Around 3,300 articles have been donated to Ota-shi from Kumagaike. Many ancient pieces of literature have also been found on site and are being examined and analyzed.
Currently, the house is exhibiting many articles, which were actually used during that time, and which show the actual lifestyles of people at that time.