In my Japan Times column of May 15, I promised a list of good places to see traditional Japanese storehouses, the generic term for which is kura 蔵.
Top on my own list is Kitakata city in Fukushima Prefecture, which has in the neighborhood of 1,000 kura still standing. There is information on this page (Japanese only) on five kura you can tour and go inside, and there is a downloadable map in English with the locations of kura marked. The town boasts quite a variety of kura, including ones made of brick. And there are some unusual ones, like the Sugiyama dozō pictured below, which has a double roof. (Kitakata gets a lot of snow.)
And then of course there’s Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture, which is set up well for foreign tourism and has even been written up in the New York Times. This is a good place to see black kura and how techniques for building traditional storehouses were adapted to make fire-resistant shops.
The city of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture is justifiably famous for Kura. Not far away is the city of Sayō in Hyogo Prefecture, where you can see the Hirafuku shop fronts.
I’ll add more spots as time allows. If you’ve got some kura-spotting hot-spots you think I should add, drop me a line. Thanks!