Introduction         Japan Information         Japan Travel Tips         Eating Out         Regional Information

Japan Regional Information

Chubu    Chugoku     Hokkaido     Kanto     Kansai     Kyushu     Okinawa     Shikoku    Tohoku

Hiroshima     Okayama     Shimane     Tottori     Yamaguchi

 

Okayama

Little rainfall and mild climate - Scenic views of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea and the Seto-ohashi Bridge
Okayama is situated in the southeastern Chugoku region (the southwest end of Japan's main island) and faces the Seto Inland Sea. The mild climate and little rainfall make Okayama ideal for grapes, peaches and other fruit plantations. The Chugoku Mountain Range extends in the north, the Kibi Heights spreads on the south of the mountains beyond the Tsuyama Basin, and the Okayama Plain faces the Seto Inland Sea in the south.

Okayama is endowed with abundant natural beauties, including the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, the Seto-ohashi Bridge that spans Honshu (the main island of Japan) and Shikoku Island, Mt. Washu-zan that overlooks them, and the Hiruzen Heights in the Daisen-Oki National Park. Other must-sees are Okayama Castle noted for its unique black exterior, the Kibitsu-jinja Shrine that has a national treasure sanctuary and worship hall as well as the important cultural property Kita-zuishin-mon Gate, and many other historic sites and historical structures.

The Koraku-en Garden, one of the three major gardens in Japan, offers a beautiful sight of its garden and the view of the Okayama Castle. There is also Kurashiki Tivoli Park, created to resemble the world's first theme park, the Tivoli Park in Denmark.

Getting there
An hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Handa Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Lines for 3 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station or 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station.
 

  • Bizen
    Hometown of Bizen-yaki pottery with a history of over 1,000 years - Experience ceramic making by hand kneading
    Bizen is a town of pottery facing the Katagami Bay in southeastern Okayama. It is known as the hometown of Bizen-yaki, one of the six ancient potteries in Japan. Bizen-yaki has a history of over 1,000 years, and is the oldest among the six ancient potteries. The old name of Okayama, Bizen, is retained in the name of the pottery.

    The town bustles with Bizen-yaki pottery and ceramic shops. Bizen-yaki employs neither glazing nor painting. The flames in the kiln change the patterns on this simple pottery, and no two pieces are alike. There is a workshop where you can experience making your own piece by kneading the clay by hand without the use of a potter's wheel. The Bizen Ceramic Art Museum displays the Bizen-yaki pieces and materials of the ceramic artists who live in this town. You can learn the mechanism of the kiln at the Bizen Provincial History Museum. There are many restaurants where food is served in Bizen-yaki dishes. You can enjoy them both with your palate and eyes. Here, too, is the Shizutani School, the first school for the general public in Japan established in the 17th century. The lecture hall in its original form built in the 18th century is designated as a national treasure. Its roof tiles are of course Bizen-yaki.

    Getting there
    An hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station. Take the JR Akou Line from Okayama Station to Inbe Station for 3 hours and 50 minutes. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station.

     

  • Hiruzen Heights
    Herb garden that grows 250 different species - Limpid stream inhabited by giant salamanders
    Hiruzen Heights is situated at the foot of three mountains - the 1,200-meter-high Mt. Kami-Hiruzen on the border of Okayama and Tottori, Mt. Naka-Hiruzen, and Mt. Shimo-Hiruzen - and belongs to the Daisen-Oki National Park. It is also known as the Karuizawa of the West, and for 14 kilometers east and west, and 5.5 kilometers north and south, you can see herds of Jersey cows grazing in the peaceful scenery. Around the highlands is Hiruzen Herb Garden that boasts of its 2.5 hectare-size. It grows 250 different varieties of herbs represented by 20,000 lavenders. At the "House of Scent" that is attached to the garden, you can experience making herbal goods. There is also a restaurant at which you can savor dishes that use herbs grown here. This garden is popular among visitors. Shiogama-reisen Cold Spring, the source of the Asahi-gawa River that runs at the foot of Hiruzen Heights, is known as one of the best waters in Japan and the area around Shiogama-reisen Cold Spring is a habitat for giant salamanders, a natural monument.

    Getting there
    An hour 10 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Thirty minutes from Okayama Airport to Okayama Station. Three hours 15 minutes from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. Two hours 40 minutes from Okayama Station to Chugoku-Katsuyama Station via Tsuyama Station by the JR Tsuyama Line.

     

  • Ikura-do and Maki-do Caves
    Two hundred forty-meter tall vertical precipice carved by a river - Two fantastic caves with different atmospheres
    The Ikura-do Cave and Maki-do Cave are situated in Niimi in northwestern Okayama.

    The Ikura-do Cave is located on the 240-meter tall vertical precipice formed by slow but long erosion of the limestone by the Takahashi-gawa River that runs from the spring near the border with Tottori Prefecture to Kurashiki. It is one of three major limestone caves in Japan, and its total length is as long as 1,200 meters. There is a series of stalactites with various names, and you can enjoy a fantastic underground adventure. A short course is also offered for those who are not sure about walking the whole distance of the cave. The area around the Ikura-do Cave is called Ikura-kyo, a beautiful ravine carved by the Takahashi-gawa River in the limestone tableland. It is also famous for beautifully colored leaves in autumn. The Kusama Karst Tableland extends upstream.

    The Maki-do Cave is a 400-meter long limestone cave. It is relatively smaller than the Ikura-do Cave, but is characterized by an underground lake at the farthest end of the cave. The red Ryugu-bashi Bridge and many other bridges are built on the lake and illuminated to entertain visitors.

    Getting there
    An hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station. Then, take the JR Hakubi Line to Ikura Station. It takes 4 hours 30 minutes. It takes 2 hours from Shin-Osaka Station.

     

  • Kibi
    Temples, shrines and ancient burial mounds in pastoral scenery
    The area from western Okayama in the south of Okayama to Soja is the Kibi Route. It was the center of Kibi-no-kuni, which boasted strong power and culture equal to those of the Yamato administration that controlled Japan in the 8th century. A series of ancient burial mounds, old temples, and shrines dot the peaceful pastoral scenery that is reminiscent of the prosperity of olden times.

    It is the area closest to Okayama with the most temples and shrines. The Kibitsuhiko-jinja Shrine has an 11.5-meter tall all-night lantern. It is also called Asahi-no-miya, or sunrise shrine, because the sun rises from the front of the Zuishin-mon gate and sets behind the sanctuary on the day of the summer solstice. The Kibitsu-jinja Shrine is an old shrine with its main sanctuary in the peculiar Kubitsu style architecture that joins the two roofs of the Irimoya Style with a pitch on the two sides on the upper part and on the four sides at the bottom.

    Closer to Soja is the Bitchu-Kokubun-ji Temple. Its 34-meter tall five-story pagoda built with two different types of trees is the symbol of Kibi. Ancient burial mounds of all sizes dot the area. The 4th largest burial mound in Japan, Tsukuri-yama-kofun, has many unsolved mysteries and it is a very interesting monument.

    Getting there
    An hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line for 3 hours and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station or 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station. Take the JR Kibi Line for 10 minutes to Bizen-Ichi-no-miya Station.

     

  • Kurashiki
    An "aesthetic area" of old kura-yashiki streets - A Danish theme park, Kurashiki Tivoli Park
    Kurashiki is located in the western part of the Okayama Plain in the central Chugoku region (the southwest end of Japan's main island). It developed as a commercial center, and was named Kurashiki because it had many kura-yashiki (residences with storehouses). The city still preserves many of those kura, or storehouses. The south of JR Kurashiki Station is called Bikan-chiku, an area that has eighty-five storehouses built between the 18th and 19th centuries and which preserve traces of those old days. It is designated as an "aesthetic area" as well as a national important preservation district for groups of historic buildings. All-night lights that were set up at the end of the 18th century and old post boxes that have been used since the latter half of the 19th century blend in with the town's scenery. Ivy Square, a cultural complex of an impressive brick building covered in ivy, stands on the former grounds of a cotton mill that was built in the 19th century. In the compound is the Ohara Museum of Art with its main building built in a Greek-temple style, and collections of representative Western art after the 17th century are exhibited.

    A tourist spot as popular as the aesthetic area is Kurashiki Tivoli Park. It was modeled after the world's oldest theme park in Denmark, the Tivoli Park. It consists of Old Copenhagen that resembles the old streets of Denmark, the Scandinavian summer house-like Colony Garden, and Back Alley that resembles the back alleys of England.

    Getting there
    An hour 10 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Thirty minutes from Okayama Airport to Okayama Station by bus. Fifteen minutes from Okayama Station to Kurashiki Station by the JR Sanyo Honsen Line. Four hours form Tokyo Station to Shin Kurashiki Station by the JR Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Line. An hour 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station.

     

  • Okayama City
    Crossroads for traffic in the Sanyo Region - Castle town with a beautiful garden and museums
    Okayama is situated at the center of the Chugoku region (the southwest of main island of Japan). It is the center of administration and business for the prefecture, a central city of the Sanyo region (the Inland Sea Coast), and a crossroads for traffic between the San-in region (the Japan Sea Coast) and Shikoku Island. It thrived as a castle town from the 16th to 19th centuries. Okayama Castle, the Koraku-en Garden, one of the three major gardens in Japan, and a number of art museums and science museums are to be found here.

    Okayama Castle, built in the 16th century, has another name: Ujo, or Raven Castle, because its exterior painted in black is associated with ravens. The castle tower was rebuilt later, but there are Tsukimi-yagura turret and other structures that are in their original state. The Koraku-en Garden, that took as long as 14 years to complete, is the first lawn garden in Japan and was created in the 17th century. It has an area of 133,000 square meters. It employs the view of the Okayama Castle outside the premise as part of the scenery that provides further depth in the view of the garden. Okayama Prefectural Art Museum collects many pieces of artwork by artists from Okayama, and has a corner that displays famous Japanese swords, and a permanent exhibit of the works of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, who spent his life in the US. The Takehisa Yumeji Museum is popular with the exhibit of this poet/artist who represents the age of the early 20th century.

    Getting there
    An hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line for 3 hours 15 minutes from Tokyo Station, or 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station.

     

  • Seto-ohashi Bridge
    The six bridges that span five islands - The silhouette glowing in the setting sun is beautiful
    The Seto-ohashi Bridge is a collective term for the six bridges that connect Kojima, Okayama Prefecture on Honshu Island (the main island of Japan) and Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island spanning five islands, namely Hitsuishi-jima Island, Iwaguro-jima Island, Wasa-jima Island, Yoshima Island, and Mitsugo-jima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. It took 40 years and a tremendous amount of money to build. It is over 13 kilometers long, and has become a major sightseeing spot. The upper level is for the Seto-Chuo Expressway, and the lower level is shared between the JR Seto-ohashi Line and a pass road. It is crowded with not only those who need to cross it but many tourists as well.

    The six bridges consist of three suspension bridges, two oblique suspension bridges and one truss bridge. They are the essence of all available bridge building technologies, and the beauty of their forms is also splendid. The silhouette glowing in the setting sun is particularly beautiful. It is illuminated after sunset.

    You can see the entire bridges from the top of Mt. Washu-zan that juts out at the southwestern edge of the Kojima-hanto Peninsula. Pleasure boats cruise from Kojima Sightseeing Port and Yoshima Island to provide a view from the sea. It is a pleasure to compare the different angles for each course and boat.

    Getting there
    An hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station. Then take the JR Seto-ohashi Line to Kojima Station. It takes 3 hours 45 minutes. It takes 1 hour 10 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station.

     

  • Tsuyama
    Forty-five-meter tall stonewalls - Old merchants' residences with latticework and square tiled walls
    Tsuyama is situated in the Tsuyama Basin between the Chugoku Mountain Range and the Kibi Heights in northeastern Okayama. It was the center of the former Mimasaka region (Tsuyama and its vicinity) and has a long history. It was a center for the traffic between the two ancient powers, Izumo and Yamato, and it thrived as a castle town after a castle was built there in the early 17th century. The Tsuyama Castle was constructed over a long period of 13 years, and called the best castle in Japan. But it is gone now, and only the 45-meter tall sturdy stonewalls remain. The site has been transformed into a park, and is famous as one of the most prominent cherry blossom viewing sites in western Japan. A samurai's residence with white plastered walls is preserved to the west of the former castle site. On the east side, there remain old merchants' residences characterized by walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster and latticework. The area is designated as a historical preservation site.

    The Shuraku-en Garden with its elegant scenery also is reminiscent of the 17th century. There are four islands in a large pond in this garden with the Chugoku Mountains in the distant background. Okutsu-onsen Hot Spring, one of the three major hot springs of Mimasaka, is located upstream of the Yoshii-gawa River that runs in the suburbs of Tsuyama. In this province, they preserve the traditional atmosphere, such as the treading of laundry along the river.

    Getting there
    An hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport. Take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Lines from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station. Then take the JR Tsuyama Line to Tsuyama Station. It takes 5 hours. It takes 1 hour 45 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station.

Back to the Top 

 

  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

Home | Bhutan | Brunei | Cambodia | China-Yunnan | East Timor | Hong Kong | India | Indonesia | Japan | Kazakstan | Korea | Kyrgystan | Laos | Malaysia Maldives | Mongolia | Myanmar | Nepal | Pakistan | Philippines | Singapore | Sri Lanka | Tajikistan | Taiwan | Thailand | Tibet | Turkmenistan | Vietnam Uzbekistan

 

Website partner : Asia-planet.com...Tours and Hotels around Asia.
Version Francaise : Planete-asie.com

Copyright © 2002 Orasia co.,ltd. (Asia-planet.net) All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.