This post was originally contributed by Diana Middleton in 2007.  But we felt it deserved an update!  Thanks to Amy for helping writing up this new post.

Kurashiki View 3
Kurashiki View 1

We had the wonderful opportunity a few weekends ago to visit the Kurashiki Dam. I have seen many signs pointing the way and have often wondered what sights there would be there for my viewing pleasure. Turns out—there are many things to do there that are hidden little treasures just waiting to be discovered! One of the best parts…it’s completely free! There is plenty of parking and you can actually drive right across the dam. Here are a few highlights:

There is a beautifully landscaped area on the south side of the dam and you can actually walk out toward the middle of the dam on a walk-way that surrounds an In-take Facility. Bathrooms were located there as well, and they were very clean and well-maintained.

Kurashiki Path
Kurashiki Path

Another treat was a Seepage Observatory surrounded by beautiful sub-tropical plants, walkways, and multiple viewing spots on the east side of the dam. This area wasn’t very populated because not many people know it exists, but it was beautiful and peaceful and not an area you’ll want to miss.

Kurashiki View
Kurashiki View 2

On the north side of the dam is where most people spend their time. For one, there is an artificial river and pond that you can enjoy. It’s a beautiful spot with rocks situated perfectly so you can hop across them—or you can use the bridge farther down the river to cross. Many children were playing in the water, which is very shallow. Several kids were having boat races with their plastic sail boats. Overall, it was just adorable to see the children having so much fun in the water—I wanted to get in myself!

Kurashiki Play Area
Kurashiki Play Area

My favorite part of the day was the Information Center. Out of the multitudes of people we saw at the dam that day (and we spent a few hours there), not one of them went into the Information Center! At first we thought maybe it was just for employees, as it is also the building where the controls are for the entire dam. But we were brave and went in—turns out it’s a museum! Although everything was in Japanese, there were so many pictures that we didn’t need a translator. It’s a small museum showing the history of the dam and surrounding area through pictures, illustrations, and even small-scale models (some of which were in English). Kids can use the typical Okinawan “stamp” to take home a little piece of their visit on paper and there are brochures in English telling about all the areas surrounding the dam that you can enjoy.

Kurashiki Interior
Kurashiki Interior
Kurashiki Cave
Kurashiki Cave

But wait; there’s more! (I’m starting to sound like an infomercial) When you walk in the Center, head towards your right and you will see what could only be called a “Bat Cave.” This whole section has fun lab experiments set up that you can manipulate and play with while learning about the nature of water. They have gone to a lot of trouble to make you feel like you are in a cave and it makes the whole experience fun and interesting. This was one place I wish I could have read the language. There were electronic quizzes and such but we couldn’t take them due to the language barrier. If you keep traveling through the cave you’ll end up in a theater room. This also has museum history on the walls, and if you plan it right, you can sit down and enjoy a presentation involving not just a movie (with English subtitles, thank goodness) but lighting, sound, and special effects. The presentation was about 15 minutes long with a surprise dragon at the end coming out of the ceiling. It was a blast! We took pictures of the cool dragon but I won’t post them here so you can go see the surprise for yourself. ☺

Kurashiki Dam View
Kurashiki View 3

The only way to get the most out of this adventure is for you to really get out and discover things on your own. There were so many trails, paths, walkways, etc. that you could take to explore the whole area that you really need a good afternoon to spend exploring. Kids will love running around and enjoying nature while kids and adults alike will enjoy learning the history and information about the dam. So go have fun!

Kurashiki Bldgs
Kurashiki Bldgs

Cost: Free-even the museum and Dragon Show

Food: Drinks-only vending machines, Yen only (bring a picnic to enjoy!)

Museum Times: 0900-1700 daily

Dragon Show Times: 0930, 1030, 1100, 1130, 1230, 1300, 1330, 1430, 1530, 1630 (subject to change)

Parking: Three different parking areas with plenty of space; no charge

Directions: Go straight out of Kadena Gate 3 and turn left at the second light (you’ll see signs showing you the way). Pass Western World on your right side and take a right at the intersection for Southeast Botanical Gardens. Follow the road past the landfill (can’t miss the mountain—not kidding—of garbage) until you come to the dam. You can go right or left at this point, depending on which part of the dam you want to see. There are also walkways along the road crossing over the dam, so if you want to do some nature walking it’s probably best to park on the north side (to your right) and then walk to your little heart’s content!

Previous content by Diana published on August 30, 2007…

This a great place to take the kids for a dip in the water and for a picnic. Some local Okinawan friends of ours brought us here and we have loved it ever since.

To get here, go straight out of Kadena Gate 3 and turn LEFT at the second light (you’ll see large signs guiding you there).  Pass Western World on your right side and take a RIGHT at the intersection for Southeast Botanical Gardens.  (You’ll see a large sign for Southeast Botanical and a small white one for Kurashiki Dam at this intersection.)  Follow the road a little further down (roughly 2 km) until it dead ends.  You’ll see parking on the right with large stone steps leading you to the dam entrance and the little waterfall and play pond area.

The play pond area is not deep and the kids can wade in the water or play near the falls. It’s a blast!! The kids love it every time we go here. They also have an observatory and display room.


  1. We daytripped to the dam today and really enjoyed it. The breeze was going away from the BGM-jo (Big Garbage Mound Castle), so it was lovely, sunny, and fresh. The show in the information center theater was really nice and subtitled in English. There are at least four different bathrooms around the park area, and they are all tidy and clean. This is the perfect place to bring a picnic and let the kids run around, espeically on the manicured field between the observation tower and the information center. One note: the elevator in the observation tower is tiny and a bit rickety. If you don’t like small, enclosed spaces, don’t go in! No fishing anywhere, and no swimming in the reservoir. You can stomp anround in the shallow area of the stream near the parking lot closest to the observation center. My kids liked the stone bridge across the stream.

  2. Michelle is right about high winds. We went there today to check it out and the place was beautiful. I almost said breathtaking except that every breath we took made us weak with the stinky odor. We’ll visit again when the winds are calmer.

  3. I was wondering if you can fish in the water. Does anyone know if this is allowed, or maybe some one knows of some other place where you can fresh water fish maybe some streams or rivers. I am desperately searching for somewhere to fish in fresh water.

  4. We really enjoy walking around this area around sunset with our dogs. So very peaceful. Also a great place to bring friends who are visiting as the whole area will provide them with some breathtaking photos.

  5. I am shocked that no one has mentioned the free “Dragon Show” and museum! You sit inside the main building and about once an hour I think there is a movie about the water dragon that plays on a big theater screen and an anomatronic Dragon comes down during the show! Super cool!

  6. We just visited Kurashiki dam last weekend and it was beautiful! I didn’t read about it before we left, so I wasn’t aware that we were allowed to go into the water. We walked around, let our son play in the water a bit and I took some amazing photos. I definitely recommend this to anyone!

  7. There doesn’t seem to be a separate post on Okinawa Hai about the Southeast Botanical Gardens, so thought I’d note this here — As of December 2010, the gardens have been indefinitely suspended (due to the operating company’s inability to negotiate a purchasing price with a buyer). It’s too bad because Kurashiki Dam and the gardens made a nice full day outing…

    One note about the dam — there a plenty of nice places to picnic, but beware on high wind days because it seems to be downwind of either a garbage dump or sewage processing plant, and the area near the structure jutting out into the water becomes pretty rank with odors from whatever is nearby. The area by the swimming pond and the observation tower, though, stay safely stink-free.

  8. We went here yesterday for the first time. SO fun. I loved it. The water was so cold and refreshing. And it was really nice to be able to relax in the grass and under the shade of trees after being in the hot sun. A nice alternative to the beach. (Although love the beach too…sometimes just don’t feel like dealing w/ the sand.) Can’t believe I haven’t been here earlier. I thought it was way up north for some reason. Thanks so much!!!

  9. Kudos to Diana! We tried this place out this past weekend coming home from White Beach and it was an absolute blast! My kids (ages 3 and 6) loved watching toyboats go down the mini-waterfalls, trying to catch the tiny minnows, and splashing around in the shallow pool. Very cool place. (Just an added note – watershoes/watersandals are definitely needed b/c it’s definitely a rocky surface for little and big feet.)