- 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!
- By Shinkansen (Superexpress Nozomi) -
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 -
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 -
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".
Getting to Okayama
A Long History of Around 1,800 Years
In days gone by, "the Kibi no Nakayama mountains" located in the western part of Okayama City and spreading out like a carp swimming in water was so well-known that they were written in a poem in Kokin Wakashu, or "A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry", collected by Imperial command in the early 10th century. There are a lot of tumuli including large-scale keyhole-shaped ones here and there on the mountains.
In ancient times, the area mainly consisting of all of Okayama Prefecture and the eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture was named Kibi Province and formed a huge cultural area as a strategic point for transportation between the Kinai Region composed of parts of Nara, Osaka and Kyoto prefectures, and Kyushu Region located near the Asian Continent.
Taking advantages of its warm and mild climate in addition to few natural disasters such as typhoons and volcanic eruptions, rice farming was developed in the area. Located on the northeastern edge of Kurashiki City, Tatetsuki Grave Mound, where the inside of a wooden coffin was blanketed with thirty kilograms of vermillion and an iron sword and a lot of gems were excavated, was constructed nearly 1,800 years ago. According to Okayama Prefectural Ancient Kibi Cultural Properties Center, it is considered that the person buried in the grave may be the paramount chief who unified a lot of tribes into Kibi Province. However, the numerous tumulus and remains in the area cannot specify the origin of Kibi Province now.
Judging from the fact that a lot of tumuli lie in Okayama Prefecture, the province had almost equal power to the Yamato line of emperors, to struggle for supremacy. And later it was divided by the central government into three, Bizen, Bitchu and Bingo: the nearest to Kyoto, the eastern part, is Bizen, and Bingo is the present eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture as well as the present western part of Okayama Prefecture. And then Bizen was divided from north to south, Mimasaka and Bizen. Today, Bizen, Bitchu and Bingo are used as a prefix to names of places, stations and others like Bizen-Osafune and Bitchu-Takahashi Station.
Provincial cities and towns in Japan, such as those in Okayama Prefecture, are packed with Japanese traditions handed down for generations. Moreover, refined rusticity remain everywhere in the countrysides, such as Fukiya and islands in the Seto Inland Sea National Park, along with natural beauty even now.
A Mild Climate All Year Around
Okayama Prefecture except its northern part has a mild and comfortable climate all year around with little rainfall. It is sandwiched between Chugoku Mountains on the north side and Shikoku Mountains on the island of Shikoku beyond the Seto Inland Sea. These mountains protect this region from chilling winds and typhoons.
Setouchi region along the Seto Inland Sea has relatively little rainfall all year round. Okayama Prefecture is well known as "Hare no Kuni", or "the land of fair weather", due to its mild temperature and low rainfall. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the average annual temperature in Okayama City is 16.2 degrees Celsius while that in Tokyo is 15.4 degrees Celsius. The total number of days with precipitation less than 1 mm in Okayama City is 276.8 days , first among the main observation sites of 47 prefectures, while that in Tokyo is 263.6 days, The average annual rainfall in Okayama City is 1,105.9 mm, third lowest amount of rainfall, while that in Tokyo is 1,528.8 mm, based on the data from 1981 to 2010.
Okayama Prefecture is blessed with favorable conditions such as a good environment for taking a walk and cycling.
Few Natural Disasters
Okayama Prefecture has few natural disasters such as typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. Because Shikoku Mountains on the island of Shikoku beyond the Seto Inland Sea block typhoons coming mainly from July to October, Okayama Prefecture receives little damage from typhoons. Considering that there is no active volcano in and close to Okayama Prefecture, there would be no possibility of being hit by volcanic disasters. According to Okayama Local Meteorological Office, no earthquake with seismic intensity 6 or over on ten-step scale which indicates the degree of shaking between 0 and 7 at an observation point on the ground surface, on which it is difficult to remain standing, has been observed in Okayama Prefecture after the first monthly report on earthquakes in Japan was issued in 1926. There is very low possibility that a huge tsunami occurs because Okayama Prefecture lies on a calm inland sea. According to Okayama Prefecture, the highest tsunami waves triggered by an earthquake and reaching the coastline of Okayama Prefecture on record are 21 cm high, caused by the magnitude 9.5 Chile earthquake in 1960. Off the record, the coast was hit by tsunami less than one meter high caused by the earthquake of magnitude 8.0, which gave extensive damage to areas along the Pacific Ocean in western Japan, in 1946.>
In addition to the above natural disasters, no nuclear power plant is located in Okayama Prefecture. It can be considered that Okayama Prefecture is one of the safest prefectures in Japan.
What's Going on This Week ( October 21 to 27, 2019 ) ?
On October 25 and 26, portable shrines and decorated boat-shaped parade floats called "danjiri", belonging to different shrines, parade through the town during the daytime in Kuse area of Maniwa City. In the evening the parade floats are divided into two groups and smashed into each other close to Kuse Shopping Street. With over 300 years of history, Kuse Festival is one of the three major danjiri festivals in Okayama Prefecture.
With a history of over 400 years, Tsuyama Festival, composed of three festivals, is a major autumn festival in Tsuyama City. Tokumori Shrine's festival, the largest of them, takes place near Tsuyama Station on October 27. Tokumori Shrine has been revered as the main shrine of Tsuyama castle town since the early 17th century. Its 200-year-old potable shrine with a weight of over one ton is one of the three major portable shrines in Japan. Twenty danjiris, belonging to different groups, are pulled through the downtown area and then gather in Yatsu-dori Street.
Enyo-tei House of Okayama Korakuen Garden is specially open to the public between October 21 and May 27. The main room was used as the living room for the feudal lord of Okayama Domain when he visited the garden during the Edo Period. The strolling-type landscape garden is best viewed from it. A 25-minute tour of the living room and the tea ceremony room next to it is available several times a day. Admission to the garden is free on October 22.
Seasonal Words, "University festival"
University festivals are a big part of Japanese university life, organised and run by executive committees of students. Universities give advice to them through the student support office and festival-related staff. Many of them are annually held in autumn while some are conducted in spring. Not only students but also local residents are looking forward to the festivals. A large variety of food booths running by students offer culturally-based foods. Basically, members of student seminars and extracurricular activity groups arrange concerts, exhibitions and other events to present their research and activities. A considerable number of universities provide walking campus tours and trial lectures for prospective students during the festivals. At some large university festivals, performances by famous singers, comedians, or other celebrities, and beauty contests spice up them, each with the total number of visitors ranging from 100,000 to 200,000.
The origin of the festivals dates back to the year 1900, when Tokyo University of Foreign Studies started to give presentation, such as readings and speeches in foreign languages, in front of over 1,000 people. The current form of the festivals was created after the establishment of the present national university system in 1949.
There are some unique university festivals, especially in Tokyo. Aoyama Gakuin University in Shibuya plans and executes an annual high quality fashion show at a chapel and its students model dresses. "Harvest Festival" held at Tokyo Agriculture University features distribution and sales of vegetables grown by students and sales of local food and international food at refreshment stalls.
College campus festivals are held on Tsushima Campus ( November 2 and 3, 2019 ) of Okayama University, one of national universities in Japan, and Shikata Campus ( November 2 to 4, 2019 ), either located ten minutes away from Okayama Station by bus. In Okayama Prefecture like other prefectures, there are many college campus festivals, such as those held at Kawasaki Medical School from October 18 to 20, Notre Dame Seisin University on November 3 and 4, and Okayama University of Science from November 22 to 24.
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Harvest festival of Tokyo Agriculture University
- Lounge about Japanese Gardens & Paths to Celebrate Cherry Blossoms & Other Flowers in Spring!
- Enjoy Traditional Dancing Festivals & Beautiful Fireworks, Wearing Summer Kimono in Summer!
- Feel Traditional Culture through Holly Shinto Festivals with a Long History in Autumn!
- Enjoy Traditional New Year's Events and Fresh Sake Made from Okayama's Sake Rice, Omachi, in Winter!
2F JR Okayama Station, 1-1 Ekimotomachi, Kita-ku, Okayama City
(Close to the ticket gate of the Shinkansen, or the bullet train)
9:00-18:00 Closed from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1
Basement No.6, Ichibangai, Ekimotomachi, Kita-ku, Okayama City
(In underground shopping district of Okayama Station, close to Hotel Granvia Okayama)
9:00-20:00 Open all year round
Languages: English, Chinese and Korean
Tel: +81 86-222-2912
2F Kurashiki City Plaza, 1-7-2, Achi, Kurashiki City
(just ahead on the right side when viewed from the south gate side of Kurashiki Station)
9:00-19:00 (Apr.-Sep.) 9:00-18:00 (Oct.-Mar.) Closed from Dec. 29 to 31
Tel: +81 86-424-1220
1-4-8, Chuo, Kurashiki City
(in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter)
9:00-18:00 Tentatively moved to Kurashiki Local History Museum during renovations from Jan. 15, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019
Tel: +81 86-422-0542
Under refurbishment from January 15, 2018 until mid-February, 2020. Temporarily moved to the entrance gate of Kurashiki Local History Museum.
A 90-minute regular tour of the area with an English speaking guide is offered, departing from the entrance of Kurashiki Local History Museum at 9:30. No reservation is required. A charged tour, whose fee for a private visitor is 100 yen, is also available. A reservation is required and can be made by fax, not accepted online. A fax form is available at "Kurashiki Welcome Tour Guides". For more information, visit the site.
1-1-1, Chikko, Tamano City
(in Uno Station on JR Uno-port Line)
9:00-18:00 Closed from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3
Languages: English, German, French and Chinese
Tel: +81 863-21-3546
Rental e-bikes and cross bikes available.