- 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!
- Oct. 23, 2020 to Mar. 31, 2021; Main Gallery of Bizen Osafune Sword Museum Closed for renovation
- Dec. 23, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021; Illuminated five-storey pagoda of Bitsu Kokubunji Temple
- Dec. 28, 2020 to March 31, 2023; Denchu Art Museum temporarily closed due to renovation works
- Feb. 20, 2021; Saidaiji Eyo Festival to be held only by authorized staff without spectators
- 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 ( January 18 to 24, 2021 ) ?
The five-story pagoda at Bitchu Kokubunji Temple, an iconic feature of Soja City, is illuminated from December 23, 2020 through February 28, 2021. Soja City and Soja City Tourism Association stage the event in order to get locals and tourists to reconfirm the beauty of the pagoda and get more interested in it.
The six-story black keep of Okayama Castle is lit up blue to express appreciation and support for medical staff from January 9 through February 7 from dusk until midnight.
Coronavirus-related Information in Okayama Prefecture
Okayama Prefecture has 2,071 confirmed cases for the coronavirus in total, consisting of 1,011 cases in Okayama City, 581 cases in Kurashiki City, the rest in the others, and 16 death toll as of January 17. More than 260 new cases were confirmed during the last week ranging from January 11 to 17. There have been nearly 1,430 confirmed recoveries.
It seems people in many countries believe the effect of face masks is limited to prevent the infection. But Japanese people have reached consensus on the view that the face coverings are effective to block most of the virus. We believe that it is the main reason why the virus is less spread through Japan, compared with most European countries and the U.S. Unfortunately, it is not for political measures. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 surge is putting a strain on hospitals across the country in spite of the fact that Japan leads the world in the number of beds in the medical facilities now.
A Seasonal Word, "Marathon"
The first Japanese Olympic athlete is a marathon runner, named Shiso Kanakuri, who participated in the fifth International Olympic Games held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912. He could not finish the race due to sunstroke, but reached the finish line at a ceremony in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the Stockholm Games in 1967.
In the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, a Japanese runner got the bronze medal. Another athlete received the silver medal in the next Olympic Games. After those, many Japanese runners began to play an active part in the marathon world. Women's marathon runners boosted their presence in the 1990s and the 2000s. In the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Naoko Takahashi won Japan's first ever track gold medal. Mizuki Noguchi got a gold medal in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Japanese marathon runners were supported by frontier research. However, the athletes have been engaged in a fierce struggle since the late 2000s by the emergence of marathon powerhouses such as Ethiopia and Kenya. High-speed races in recent years are attributed to those Afriacan runners.
The first Tokyo Marathon in 2007 triggered the nationwide citizen's marathon boom in Japan. Now more than 1,500 races per year are held in the country. There are applications exceeding the capacities at most of them. On the back of marathon booms in China and Taiwan, many runners from overseas countries joined the marathon events. Research says the number of runners and joggers habitually running more than once a week reaches over 5 million people in Japan.
In Okayama Prefecture, Okayama Marathon, which started in 2015, takes place at Okayama City in November. The course starts from the front of the Okayama Prefectural Multipurpose Grounds near Okayama Station, certified by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations. It also has a 4.5 km fun run course. Soja Kibiji Marathon and Tsuyama Kamogo Full Marathon have a few decades of history.
An Okayama-based long-established department store, Tenmaya, established a women's track-and-field club in 1992, when a women's marathon runner from Okayama Prefecture, Yuko Arimori, won the silver medal in the Sydney Olympics. The team has produced many Olympic athletes, including Honami Maeda chosen as one of the marathon runners who represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.
Japan Association of Athletics Federations
Faculty of Health and Well-being, Kansai University
Sasakawa Sports Foundation
- 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
(beside the ticket gate of the Shinkansen, or the bullet train)
9:00-20:00 Open everyday
Language: English, Chinese, Korean, French ( using telephone ), and Tai ( using telephone )
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)
Tel: +81 86-422-0542
A 90-minute regular tour of the area with an English speaking guide is offered, departing from the entrance 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 or email. A fax form is available at "Kurashiki Welcome Tour Guides". For more information, visit the site.
1-1-1, Chikko, Tamano City
(inside 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.