And the award for most picturesque scene goes to...
Winning the award for most cinematic setting is the historic castle town of Kurayoshi in the center of Tottori Prefecture. At Shirakabe Dozo Gun, white-walled storehouses dating back to the Edo period are neatly laid out along canal-lined streets, all set against a deep green mountainous backdrop. From above, it looks like a movie set for a samurai biopic.
Once the home of the provincial government of the Houki region, Kurayoshi has since swapped politics for a more leisurely pace of life. Though the Shirakabe area is designated as a nationally important preservation district, you won’t find the picturesque lanes or charming traditional stores packed with tourists. On the contrary, this is the perfect place to get that totally Instagrammable shot of you in a kimono embodying #timelesselegance.
The local style of kimono, Kurayoshi-kasuri, is the color of deep indigo. Check out the Kurayoshi Furusato Souvenir Shop to see the manufacturing process of this unique textile.
Many of the Edo-era buildings have been carefully restored, transforming into boutique cafes and vintage stores. Others continue the trade they’ve been plying for decades; as you stroll the streets you’ll notice the distinct aroma of soy sauce and sake being brewed behind lattice windows.
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Ask a local for their recommendation on what to do in the wider area, and there’s a chance they’ll point you to a public restroom. This isn’t miscommunication but a nod to Kurayoshi’s special effort to create stellar public bathrooms around the city.
However, if toilets aren’t your thing, head to the rather lovely Utsubuki Park instead. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area during sakura season, Utsubuki is often listed as one of the best places in southwest Honshu to see the cherry blossoms.