By Train -- If you're arriving in Kurashiki by Shinkansen (which takes about 4 1/2 hr. from Tokyo, excluding transfers, and almost 2 hr. from Kyoto), you'll arrive at Shin-Kurashiki Station, about 9.5km (6 miles) west of Kurashiki Station and the heart of the city; the local train that runs between the two stations departs about every 15 minutes and takes 9 minutes. Note, however, that not all Shinkansen trains stop at Shin-Kurashiki, and if you're arriving from Tokyo, you'll have to change trains in Okayama. In addition, because Shin-Kurashiki Station is not in the center of town, if you're coming from the east (like from Tokyo), you'll probably find it much more convenient to transfer from the Shinkansen in Okayama to the local Sanyo train, which will take you in 13 minutes directly to Kurashiki Station (fare: ¥320).
By Bus -- The same buses that depart from Tokyo's Shinjuku station for Okayama continue onward to Kurashiki, arriving in Kurashiki about 40 minutes after their Okayama stop and costing ¥10,000 one-way.
There's a tourist information office outside the south (main) exit of Kurashiki Station (tel. 086/424-1220), on the second floor of the Terminal Hotel to the right, open daily 9am to 7pm. Another information office, called the Kurashiki-Kan (tel. 086/422-0542), is right on the canal in the historic district and has a rest area with tables and vending machines; open daily 9am to 6pm (to 5:15pm in winter), it was built in 1916 and is ironically the only Western-looking wooden building in the area. Both offices distribute maps and brochures, including the useful "Walking Map of Kurashiki." More information online is at www.city.kurashiki.okayama.jp/kankou.
The willow-lined canal, called the Bikan Historical Quarter, is only a 10-minute walk from Kurashiki Station; take the south exit and walk south on Chuo Dori, turning left just before the Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel. In fact, you can walk virtually everywhere of interest in Kurashiki; the Bikan Historical Quarter is zoned mostly for pedestrians.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.