- 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 ( August 19 to 25, 2019 ) ?
On the evening of August 24, Yakage Kouta Dancing is performed by 60 local women dressed in a uniform summer kimono and a hat made of braided straw in Yakage Shopping Street decorated with 150 of Japanese traditional suspending lanterns. Yakage Kouta was sang in Yakage Town until around 65 years ago. Yakage Kouta was restored and choreographed for the event which started as one of summer features in Yakage Town in 2014. The area is a historical post town which flourished from the 18 century to the 19th century
August 25 falls on the last day of the summer season of Setouchi Triennale 2019. It is an international art festival held on some islands in the Seto Inland Sea and ports, Takamatsu Port and Uno Port, every three years, with the theme of the Restoration of the Sea and aims at the revitalization of the island communities that was thriving in its beautiful natural environment and the transformation of the area into a Sea of Hope.
Seasonal Words, "Haunted House"
Many people in Japan flock to haunted houses in summer. They participate in the event with a storyline and a mission as one of the characters. For example, at one haunted house, a doll which looked like a baby was handed at the entrance and participants had to deliver the baby to the mother waiting at the exit while guarding it from demons lurking in darkness. Stories stimulate their imagination.
Why are haunted houses so popular in summer? Summer is the season when Japanese people welcome the souls of the dead since long ago. It was said that ghosts that held a grudge also came back to the world of the living. In the Edo Period, a lot of plays to repose the departed souls were staged at kabuki theaters in summer. During the season, top grade actors took a vacation and young actors appeared on the stage instead of the popular actors. They played novel programs for attracting audiences. When people feel fear, noradrenalin raises body temperature to prepare for any distress. However, that makes the body feel cold because the temperature on the surface of their skin does not rise yet. In other words, blood runs to major organs like the heart and major muscles such as limb ones when people get scared. That worsens the flows of the blood to the tips of the arms and legs, and the surface of their skin. As a result, they feel chilly. In the Edo Period, it was common for town people to go to a kabuki theater in order to enjoy the cool in summer.
The history of haunted houses in Japan can go back to 1830, when the nation was unsettled owing to frequent famines, natural disasters, and other calamities. It is said that it originated with a hut which a doctor built in his private garden in a suburb of the city of Edo. However, it was demolished at the behest of the local governor three months later. In 1839, a temple in Edo put on various shows in the precincts. One of them is the model of today's haunted houses. A boom of haunted houses started in the 1910s. Haunted house exhibitions and temporary haunted attractions at shrines and temples entertained many people by stimulating the five senses through light, sound, odor and other factors. After World War II, a lot of department stores and amusement parks began to operate horror-themed events.
A typical traditional Japanese ghost has no legs and foot, wearing a plain white kimono with dishevelled hair. In most cases, a female ghost is the main character in a ghost story. A woman treated cruelly by a man becomes a vengeful spirit and curses him. She often appears near water such as a stream, mostly under a willow tree, and a well.
These days in Japan, most haunted house attractions are created by haunted house producers. Hirofumi Gomi, the leading producer, devised a new type of haunted house attractions having a story line and a mission more than a quarter of a century ago. A variety of haunted attractions, including haunted trains and buses, can be enjoyed as well.
At "Miroku no Sato" in southeastern Hiroshima Prefecture, four types of haunted house attractions are open from July 20 to September 1, 2019.
Tabitan: Tourist and Leisure Facility Search Engine
Nomura Co., Ltd.
'Me ga Ten! Library: I was like, "What?" Library' broadcast by NTV
Miroku no Sato
- 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
Language: English, German, French and Chinese
Tel: +81 863-21-3546
Rental e-bikes and cross bikes available.