Kurashiki is one of the few cities in Japan that still have a historic district that didn’t suffer from Second World War bombings. This makes it a perfect place to try a ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel. I wrote this article to help travelers who wish to spend a night in Kurashiki to find a place to sleep. To this end, I’d like to share with you the eight best traditional inns in the city.
I will not focus only on ryokans. Indeed, I’ll cover three different types of housing in Kurashiki on this page. Of course, we’ll start by talking about traditional hotels in Bikan, Kurashiki’s historic centre. Then, I’ll introduce two excellent off-centre ryokans. Then we’ll talk about more “conventional” hotels, offering an experience closer to what is found in the West. Finally, I’ll give you much cheaper but just as convenient alternatives: youth hostels.
Ryokans in the historic centre of Kurashiki
Several ryokans that have existed for centuries are located in Kurashiki’s most tourist district: Bikan. I suggest you two traditional inns located in the historic heart of the city.
Ryori Ryokan Tsuragata
This four-star ryokan is housed in a building that is almost three centuries old. The establishment is located in the heart of Bikan, the historical center of Kurashiki. Which makes it one of the most convenient places to visit this city.
Ryori Ryokan Tsuragata is best known for offering sumptuous meals made up of specialties from the San’yo area. The seasonal ingredients are carefully chosen by the chef of this exceptional establishment to serve the best kaiseki meals possible. These heirloom feasts are served on trays containing several refined dishes.
As for the rooms, they are in the purest Japanese style, with tatami mats, sliding panels and futons. The large windows facing the traditional garden will give you even more the feeling of having traveled back in time.
Yoshii is another traditional hotel located in the historic centre of Kurashiki. This three-star ryokan has existed since the second half of the Edo era. Important historical figures, such as Ryoma Sakamoto, have stayed in this upscale facility.
The interior design is a blend of Japanese traditions and Western luxury. The dining rooms are subtly inspired by nineteenth century Europe, while the bedrooms are following the Japanese customs. You’ll sleep in comfortable rooms with tatami mats and futons. Moreover, the bathrooms are also in accordance with Japanese usage and have large wooden tubs filled with hot water.
One of the culinary delights of this hotel is eel, a popular dish throughout Japan. Guests can also enjoy other seasonal Japanese specialties as well as matcha tea prepared with the highest quality standards.
The ryokans located outside the historic centre of Kurashiki
Bikan is without a doubt the most convenient place to stay in order to visit Kurashiki. However, other exceptional ryokans are located outside the historic centre of the city. The best of these facilities deserve your attention if you aren’t sure you can stay in one of the two hotels I mentioned above.
Bingoya is a traditional two-star hotel located near Shin-Kurashiki Station, which makes it easily accessible if you arrive by Shinkansen. Although this ryokan isn’t located in Bikan, guests can enjoy the typical houses of Tamashima and Entsuji Temple which are only a few minutes walk from the hotel.
As with the two hotels shown above, Bingoya offers an authentic experience that includes rooms with tatamis, seasonal kaiseki meals and traditional baths. All these assets make it a serious alternative to hotels in Bikan. I would even recommend this hotel more than others if you want to leave Kurashiki early in the morning or arrive at the end of the day by bullet train.
Washu Blue Resort Kasago
This 4-star hotel is just a 3-minute walk from Washu Highland Amusement Park. It is quite off-centre compared to the other hotels on this page, but it offers a breathtaking view of the Seto Inland Sea. In addition, this ryokan offers free shuttles from Kojima Station, the Kurashiki district known worldwide for its blue jeans.
From the outside, the building looks modern and stark, but the reality is different! All its bedrooms have tatami mats, even those with Western beds. Washu Blue Resort Kasago is a perfect compromise between pure Japanese traditions and European comfort.
Regarding the restaurant and bathrooms of the hotel, Japanese customs are fully respected with sophisticated kaiseki meals and open-air baths. These are on the roofs of this ryokan. Thus, you can admire the orange sunset while paddling.
Conventional Hotels in Kurashiki
You don’t necessarily want to spend the night in a place that fully respects Japanese customs? Take a look at the two hotels below. They are both acclaimed by Internet users who had the chance to spend a night there. Moreover, they have undeniable advantages. But, you’ll have to choose between a History that has left its mark on Kurashiki or an outdoor onsen with an unobstructed view of the city.
Kurashiki Ivy Square
Ivy Square is an iconic building in the 19th-century Kurashiki Historic District. This old red brick mill has been converted into a cultural and tourist complex in which you will find restaurants, bars, shops … And a lavish three-star hotel.
By choosing a room in Ivy Square, you can enjoy Bikan to the fullest, as all the sights in the centre of Kurashiki will only be a few meters from your hotel. As for the hotel itself, the property offers modern rooms for up to four people. A great way to share special moments with your family!
Dormy Inn Kurashiki
Dormy Inn Kurashiki is a hotel owned by a chain also based in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka or Nagoya. This facility is just a short walk from Kurashiki Station.
Dormy Inn Kurashiki is a modern place with simple rooms for one to four people. The dishes served in its restaurant mix Japanese traditions with mainstream dishes. You will not have to worry about eating raw fish for the breakfast.
The big plus of this hotel is undoubtedly its outdoor onsen which is located on the ninth floor of the building. From here you’ll have a view all over Kurashiki.
Kurashiki youth hostels
If your travel budget is tight, you can choose youth hostels instead of one of the star hotels above. In order to help you choose, I selected two of the best guest houses in Kurashiki.
For starters, even if the standard is lower than the six establishments listed above, Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn offers traditional Japanese rooms at more affordable prices. Staying in this hostel you can enjoy sleeping in a futon inside a room covered with tatami mats. Then the location of the hotel is perfect, close to the historical center of Kurashiki. Finally, people who have tried this property usually leave an excellent rating to Kakure-Yado Yuji-inn. As a result, its average rating on Booking is higher than those of the four starred ryokans that I mentioned above.
Like any good hostel, this hotel offers common areas that will allow you to meet other guests and communicate with people from different backgrounds.
Hostel Cuore Kurashiki
Hostel Cuore is a guest house located about 10 minutes from Kurashiki Station, in the historic centre of Bikan. This is definitely the best value accommodation in this part of the city.
They offer several room types, from dormitory bunk beds to private double bedrooms. Besides, each room has its own atmosphere. The hostel has a bar and a terrace. The common areas are designed so that they allow guests to relax during their stay. The more adventurous clients can also rent bicycles for an extra fee.
Alternative to Kurashiki: Hotels in Okayama
If you plan to stay only one day in Kurashiki, you may also consider staying overnight in a hotel in Okayama, about 30 minutes away from this destination. The area around JR Okayama Station is full of many hotels that can accommodate hundreds of tourists. Besides, Okayama has several tourist attractions, such as Okayama Castle and Koraku-en Gardens. These monuments can be added to your itinerary in the Chugoku region.
I hope this page has given you some tips on how to choose your hotel in Kurashiki. You can also check my other blog posts related to this city and Okayama Prefecture to plan your itinerary in this Southwestern region of Japan.