If you ever have to choose between Kanazawa and Kurashiki… choose Kurashiki. The historical merchant district, if you don’t stay around the canal but go behind it in the small streets, is gorgeous and well worth the trip.
It was raining and I really regretted leaving my scarf at the hotel but even with that, the district is so big it amazed me. Very few people around, a few cars passing by, and the stores inside historical buildings aren’t an issue, none of them stand out too much.
It took us about 3h to walk around these streets, but that’s mainly because we didn’t ignore the little shops and went absolutely everywhere. There is a small garden and temple complex above the area. Even then, it’s a much bigger district than the one in Kanazawa.
I’m a huge fan of the place. It’s easy to access, from Okayama we took a local train on the Sanyo line – only a 17 minutes ride, but it can also be accessed by Shinkansen (though it stops at Shin-Kurashiki and the station is not as convenient to reach the district). A must-see.