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Visit sites associated with the Ohara Family in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Learn about the history of Kurashiki while visiting sites associated with the Ohara Family, the family that created the foundation for the town's success.

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The Ohara Family
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The Ohara Family

The Ohara Family was the largest landowner in Kurashiki. Family patriarch Ohara Koshiro founded Kurashiki Spinning Works (it would later evolve into KURABO Industries Ltd.) and worked tirelessly to build the company and Kurashiki. His third son, Magosaburo, not only expanded KURABO Industries Ltd. nationwide, but also contributed to society through the foundation of the Ohara Museum of Art, Japan's first privately-owned museum of Western art as well as a great number of contributions that benefited the society.

Ohara Museum of Art
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Ohara Museum of Art

The Ohara Museum of Art was founded by Ohara Magosaburo to commemorate his friendship with painter Kojima Torajiro. Beyond their relationship as painter and patron, they became lifelong friends. When Torajiro studied art in Europe with financial support from Magosaburo, he asked for permission to collect European artwork for the Japanese world of art. Magosaburo granted Torajiro's request, and Torajiro purchased world-famous works by Monet, Gauguin, El Greco, and Matisse. Torajiro returned from Europe and remained in Japan until he died at the age of 47. Magosaburo mourned the death of his friend and benefactor, and founded Ohara Museum of Art to exhibit Torajiro's work and the artwork he had collected while in Europe.

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Take the Ohara Museum of Art Morning Tour
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Take the Ohara Museum of Art Morning Tour

The Ohara Museum of Art features an impressive collection of world-famous paintings and other works, including Torajiro's first purchase, "Hair" by Aman-Jean, "Water Lilies" by Claude Monet, which Torajiro purchased during a visit to Monet's studio, "Annunciation" by El Greco, which Torajiro found at an art gallery in Paris, and "Still Life with a Skull" by Pablo Picasso, procured by Ohara Soichiro, Magosaburo's eldest son, who expanded the collection of Western modern art.
The tours take place on the 1st and 3rd Sunday mornings of the month before the museum's usual opening time. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of great paintings with a veteran curator (reservations required/ unavailable between December and February).

Café EL GRECO
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Café EL GRECO

Café EL GRECO was opened by Magosaburo's eldest son, Soichiro, who wanted to serve delicious coffee to Ohara Museum of Art visitors. The café was designed by Yakushiji Kazue, who had also designed the museum's main building. The building was originally the office of a company that managed farming land and other assets rented out by the Ohara Family. Ivy that architect Yakushiji had planted around the building grew to completely cover the exterior walls. Located next to the museum, Café EL GRECO offers visitors delicious coffee after viewing the museum's world-famous collection of paintings and other works of art.

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Shinkeien
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Shinkeien

Shinkeien is a traditional Japanese-style house built as a vacation home in 1893 to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Ohara Koshiro, the first president of Kurashiki Spinning Works. Koshiro's son, Magosaburo, donated the house to Kurashiki City in 1922. When he donated the house to the city, he named it Shinkeien, the pen name used by Koshiro for his writing. It is open to the public for tea ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, tourism events and much more.

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OHARA HOUSE KATALYZER (Former Ohara Family Residence)
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OHARA HOUSE KATALYZER (Former Ohara Family Residence)

OHARA HOUSE KATALYZER was the primary residence of Ohara Magosaburo and later generations of the Ohara Family. It has the traditional features of townhouses in Kurashiki, features such as the Kurashiki Window and Lattice, stone pavement, a storehouse, and Japanese garden. Because these features are representative of Kurashiki townhouses, the Yurinso (main building), a detached room, and eight storehouses were designated National Important Cultural Properties in 1971. Since April 2018, the site was named OHARA HOUSE KATALYZER, and it has been open to the public. Visitors can see the unique architecture and valuable items collected by the family as they learn about the history of the Ohara Family.

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Yurinso
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Yurinso

Yurinso was a second house built by Magosaburo so that his sickly wife could live with the family while enjoying peace and quiet. Its unique design integrates Western and Japanese styles. Depending on the angle from which it is viewed, the roof tiles shine green, which evokes the roof tiles on Confucius's Mausoleum, which Kojima Torajiro saw when he visited China. For this reason the house is known locally as Green Palace. Ohara Museum of Art opens the house to the public for special viewing twice a year in spring and autumn.

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Imabashi (Ima Bridge)
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Imabashi (Ima Bridge)

Imabashi (Ima Bridge) between the Ohara Museum of Art and the Former Ohara Family Residence & Yurinso was rebuilt by Ohara Magosaburo at his own expense in preparation for a visit by the Crown Prince (later Showa Emperor) in 1916. The Imperial chrysanthemum crest and the dragon engraved on the handrails of the bridge were designed by Kojima Torajiro.

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Kurashiki Ivy Square
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Kurashiki Ivy Square

A distinctive Kurashiki Spinning Works building featuring ivy-covered red bricks was refurbished for use as a complex for interaction among members of the public. Ohara Koshiro had the work done at his own expense in recognition of the people who worked to start new industries in Kurashiki during the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Because of the significant contribution to the modernization of the Japanese industries that they represent, the buildings of the spinning work factories were certified as Japanese Heritage of Industrial Modernization in 2007. The complex has a hotel, restaurant, souvenir shop, and a studio that invites visitors to experience local specialty craftworks.

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Former Site of the Chugoku Bank Hommachi Branch - Ohara Museum of Art "New Kojima Annex" (tentative)
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Former Site of the Chugoku Bank Hommachi Branch - Ohara Museum of Art "New Kojima Annex" (tentative)

Featuring Renaissance style, this was designed by Yakushiji Kazue and built to house the Daiichi Godo Bank Kurashiki Branch in 1922. Ohara Magosaburo was president of the bank at that time. This two-story building is made of bricks reinforced by steel-frame, covered with granite, based on a hipped roof structure with slate roofing. Three dome-shaped dormer windows with stained glass are placed on the rooftop at the front. It was used as the Chugoku Bank Kurashiki Hommachi Branch until 2016. Currently, only the exterior is open to the public.

*The photo shows the building when it was the Chugoku Bank Branch Office. This building is scheduled to open as the Ohara Museum of Art "New Kojima Annex" (tentative) in 2020.

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Copyright Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation. All Right Reserved.
Copyright Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation. All Right Reserved.