For Something More Relaxing

  • There is a place which has
  • a long history of around 1,800 years,
  • a mild climate all year around,
  • and few natural disasters.
  • Let's Stroll around Okayama, Japan!
Map of Japan
  1. Top
  2. Outline
  • Dec. 28, 2020 to March 31, 2023; Denchu Art Museum temporarily closed for renovation works
  • May. 31, 2021 to autumn 2022; Okayama Castle temporarily closed for renovations
  • Apr. 30 to May 9; Special Nighttime Opening Garden Illumination in Okayama Korakuen Garden
  • Apr. 30 to May 9; Special Nighttime Opening Castle Illumination at Okayama Castle

Okayama on Map of Japan

    Getting to Okayama

  • - By Shinkansen (Superexpress Nozomi) -

    Shinkansen From Tokyo Station: approx. 3 hr. 15min.
    From Shin-Osaka Station: approx. 45 min.
    From Hiroshima Station: approx. 35 min.
    "Japan Rail Pass" available for tourists making a short stay in Japan. For more information, visit "JAPAN RAIL PASS."
    Hello Kitty Shinkansen decorated with images of Hello Kitty runs almost every day between Shin-Osaka and Hakata on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. It makes one round trip a day.
    Free Wi-Fi service available at several places in Okayama Station, such as the Shinkansen gate and waiting rooms, and the concourse for the conventional lines on the second floor. For more information, visit "West Japan Railway Company".

  • - By Expressway Bus -

    bus From Shinjuku Station in Tokyo : approx. 10 hr. 15 min.
    From Kansai International Airport in Osaka : approx. 3 hr. 35 min.
    From Hiroshima Station : approx. 2 hr. 35 min.
    Ryobi Bus operates expressway bus routes from Okayama to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and some other cities in Western Japan.
    For more information, visit "Ryobi Bus".

  • - By Air -

    airplane From Tokyo (Haneda Airport) : approx. 1 hr. 15 min.
    ( approx. 30 min. from Okayama Momotaro Airport to Okayama Sta. by shuttle bus )
    ( approx. 35 min. from Okayama Momotaro Airport to Kurashiki Sta. by shuttle bus )
    Free Wi-Fi service available at Okayama Momotaro Airport. For more information, visit "Okayama Momotaro Airport".

What's Going on This Week ( April 19 to 25, 2021 ) ?

Poenies at Seigenji Temple

Phlox subulata planted in Shiba-zakura Park in Nishi-Awakura Village located in the northeastern corner of Okayama Prefecture is at their best around April 20. The 15,000 ground covers are spreading all over the area and boast star-shaped and moss-like blooms in pink, white and blue.

A peony festival is held in Seigenji Temple located near Tsuyama Castle from April 21 to May 9. There are 300 peony shrubs in 100 varieties and 50 herbaceous peonies in every color of the rainbow in the garden. Its main event takes place on April 29. A farewell ceremony of the current chief priest and an investiture ceremony of a new priest are performed in the morning. It is said that the temple was founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect in the early 9th century.

Coronavirus-related Information in Okayama Prefecture

Okayama Prefecture has 3,214 confirmed cases for the coronavirus in total, consisting of 1,658 cases in Okayama City, 784 cases in Kurashiki City, the rest in the others, and 35 death toll as of April 18. Around 280 new cases were confirmed during the last week ranging from April 12 to 18. Okayama prefecture as well as many other prefectures see an upward trend in the number of confirmed new cases for the virus. There have been 2,742 confirmed recoveries.

A lot of the mass media are accusing the Japanese government of a delay in the COVID-19 vaccination. Specialists excused it by saying it was caused by a lot of legal battles over vaccines in the past. But pharmaceutical companies in the United States in a litigious society were also worried about lawsuits against vaccines. Unlike Japanese companies, they proceeded with research and development for them, and completed it immediately. What is the difference between Japan and the U.S.?

Inside Japan

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Mori's derogatory comments about women, "board of directors meetings with many women takes a lot of time," caused chaos both at home and abroad. Media in Japan covered the issue extensively every day. But it seems their concern is whether other countries, expecially advanced western countries, regard Japan as a democratic nation, rather than sex discrimination itself. There was a clash of opinions on who would be his successor: choosing by abilities, regardless of the gender, or replacing him for a woman. In conclusion, Seiko Hashimoto, a former female Olympian at seven Olympic Games and Japan's Olympic minister, has been chosen as the new president of the Olympic Organizing Committee effectively with closed doors, not in the selection panel.

In Japan, it is not common to discuss gender discrimination in our daily lives. It comes up when someone famous makes sexist remarks in public such as this case or Japan has been ranked much lower by a global gender equality ranking, like Global Gender Gap Report. Japan has placed 121st out of the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings.

Some men say Japanese women are passive in improving their career. But Japanese girls have not received necessary and proper education on building their career and the leadership of women at school. Researchers revealed that males were main characters in 122 out of 170 stories included in Japanese language textbooks used in the elementary schools in 2008. It accounted for 71.8% out of all the stories. In the rest of the stories, a female main character or a leading character whose gender was unknown was featured. Stories on only three women's lives appeared in the textbooks while those on seven men's lives were included. As for social studies, 45 people were in the textbooks, but only three females, such as Murasaki Shikibu, were included. There were no females in modern times and later.

In Japan the despotic leadership style is still the most common among public and private organizations. Despotic leaders are forceful, direct, and tough, based on personal dominance and authoritarian behavior. In contrast, many in advanced western countries have adopted the democratic leadership style. The shared leadership allows equal participation of team members in the decision-making and the problem-solving processes. Women have a tendency to place more importance on relationships with other people. Which comes first, spreading the democratic leadership style in Japan or drastically increasing the ratio of female leaders? Or neither of them?

*Reference Sites:

World Economic Forum

Hiroshima University Institutional Repository

STU Online

February 21, 2021

It is said Albert Einstein had autism spectrum disorder(ASD). He did not wear socks and removed cuffs from his shirts by cutting them off because he was hypersensitive to texture. The winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics said he had seldom thought in words and thought through visual processing. He was not admitted to ETH Zurich at first because he failed examinations for the college except physics and mathematics. His worst subject was language. The German-born physicist did not like to listen to classes in his school days. After enrolling in ETH Zurich, he often cut classes and spent time at the library. His friend, Einstein's lifelong companion, showed Einstein his notebooks, so that the man of great importance in future years could pass examinations to put himself through college.

There are a great number of signs and symptoms showing that a person has ASD. The most commonly known feature is that people with ASD have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication. Their abilities to learn, think and problem-solve range from gifted to severely challenged. Albert Einstein was remarkably gifted. However, he could not have drawn out his potential without sympathetic supporters such as the friend at ETH Zurich and good environments like a happy home environment. Einstein had typical signs of ASD. Many with ASD are oversensitive to touch, taste, sound, sight, smell, balance and proprioception(body awareness). For example, people hypersensitive to sound cannot do without noise-cancelling headphones. Research shows people with high-functioning autism can be classified into three types by thinking styles: visual thinkers whose talents for art, handcrafts, and design stand out, verbal specialists who are good at talking and writing but they are devoid of visual skills, and pattern thinkers who excel in music and math. Photo-realistic visual thinkers have photographic memory. Like other people, individuals with ASD have their own strengths and weaknesses. But, they have an extreme difference between strengths and weaknesses. They become overly absorbed with interest in specific fields. It takes autistic people longer to process what they heard verbally. In addition, they have trouble understanding what others are saying correctly because certain sounds are hard for them to understand. These are why children with ASD have difficulty in learning in traditional ways. Lectures are still the basis for how teachers give their lessons in Japan.

April 2 falls on World Autism Awareness Day recognised by the United Nations and the period between April 2 and April 8 is observed as Developmental Disorders Awareness Week established in Japan. Awareness-raising activities such as the distribution of flyers and leaflets was conducted to raise public awareness about ASD and other developmental disorders at Okayama Station on April 4 and at Kurashiki Station on April 2. Okayama Castle, Bitchu Kokubunji Temple, and some other facilities were lit up in blue on some days during the period. But it is doubtful whether it raised the awareness of developmental disorders among many people in such trite ways.

CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reported that around 1 in 54 or 1.85% of children have been identified with ASD in 2016, based on research in multiple areas of the U.S. The institute is tracking information on ASD for statistical purposes and issues its community report on autism which is reader-friendly every year. Meanwhile, e-Healthnet, a website operated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, estimated about 1 percent of the population of Japan have ASD. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology released a report on children with developmental disorders based on scientific investigations conducted in 2012. The data collection indicated that regular classes have 6.5 percent of students with developmental disorders. It seems there are no continuous official statistics of Japan on autism. Hirosaki University located in northern Japan announced in 2020 that 3.22 percent of children aged 5 were found to have ASD by their research data that had been tallied up since 2015.

Years ago, some public figures, including a freelance announcer, came out publicly as a person with Asperger Syndrome. At that time, Asperger Syndrome was often taken up by the media. But shortly newspapers and TV stations lost interest in it like a boom. Recently it began to be featured in a lot of the media. NHK, a publicly-run TV of Japan, has developed a campaign for raising public awareness about developmental disorders, including ASD, and broadcast some programs about them since 2017. However, many Japanese people still do not know about ASD well and see it as merely a mental disability.

In Japan there is a lot of peer pressure. People are trying not to assert themselves in order to avoid getting attacked by other people. Many children with ASD become targets of bullying for their unique characteristics at school. Some of them stop going to school and shut themselves in their room. The ministry of education reported in 2020 that an increasing number of children in elementary and junior high school have stopped attending school for the last seven years. In 2019, more than 180,000 children or 1.9 percent out of the total students stayed away from school. Research says nearly a half of children who refuse to attend school have ASD. For a long time, these children have received public criticism.

It is said people with ASD are good at problem-solving. It is obvious that they excel in finding challenges as well. Many physicists who might have ASD, such as Einstein and Newton, challenged new issues other physicists did not recognize, like relative time. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are also said to have autistic tendencies. Steve Jobs created compact computers when all computers were enormous. IBM, HPE and some other IT companies have announced recruitment policies in which they will hire a certain number of people with ASD. Entrepreneurs who create start-ups suit people with high-functioning autism who have unique sensibility and abilities, strong preferences, great persistence and weakness in communication, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Japan has been reluctant to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship. The U.S. has led the IT industry in the world and expanded its presence in high technology fields while Japan has fallen behind in the fields compared to the U.S., China, India and some European countries. Japan has almost ignored the presence of the people with distinct characteristics and faculties. Japanese people often use the words, "never experienced before," at work.

It is often said there is something abnormal in people with ASD. However, what about those without ASD who often tell lies, bully the weak, stand in other people's way, and try to make war?

*Reference Sites:

Autism Speaks

Forbes: Research Shows Three Distinct Thought Styles in People with Autism

Understood

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Okayama Prefecture Web Site

e-Healthnet

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology - Japan

Hirosaki University

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

Sanin Rosai Hospital

Business Insider: The U.S. IT Companies Including Microsoft Take Great Interest in Human Resources with Developmental Disorders Such As Autism. Can Japan Dig Up Buried Human Resources?

*Reference Books:

Lonely Childhood that produced geniuses

How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

April 11, 2021

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  1. Lounge about Japanese Gardens & Paths to Celebrate Cherry Blossoms & Other Flowers in Spring!
  2. Enjoy Traditional Dancing Festivals & Beautiful Fireworks, Wearing Summer Kimono in Summer!
  3. Feel Traditional Culture through Holly Shinto Festivals with a Long History in Autumn!
  4. Enjoy Traditional New Year's Events and Fresh Sake Made from Okayama's Sake Rice, Omachi, in Winter!

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Seasonal Words

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