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
  • Oct. 23, 2020 to Mar. 31, 2021; Main Gallery of Bizen Osafune Sword Museum Closed for Refurbishment
  • Nov. 20 to Nov. 29; Garden Illumination at Okayama Korakuen Garden
  • Nov. 20 to Nov. 29; 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 ( November 23 to 29, 2020 ) ?

"Zen and Crafts" is held at Sogenji Temple from November 23 to 29 and Gallery Maruyama Stitch, 3 minutes walk from Sogenji Temple, from November 22 to December 13. Works of three Japanese traditional craftsmen are exhibited in the study hall of the temple, and in the gallery built with the thought of stitching up the sky, human beings and the land. The zen temple was established as the family temple of the feudal lord of the Okayama Domain over 300 years ago.

Black Friday is held around November 27, mostly from last weekend to this weekend at many shops in Japan, including Okayama Prefecture. The shops are now bustling with life. The bargain sales period is extended this year to avoid the three Cs.

Coronavirus-related Information in Okayama Prefecture

Okayama Prefecture has 498 confirmed cases for the coronavirus in total and 11 death toll as of November 22. The coronavirus is spreading mainly at hospitals and nursing facilities in northern Okayama Prefecture, including Tsuyama City, while more infection clusters have been observed at restaurants in the south such as Okayama City and Kurashiki City.

In the U.S., pool testing method for Covid-19, which combines samples from multiple people into a group, has been approved. It saves cost and time. But the Japanese government has not allowed people to cover it by national expenditure. They say pooled testing is lower in accuracy than testing individuals separately. However, the number of confirmed cases for the coronavirus in China dropped drastically by the method.

Seasonal Words, "Matsutake mushroom"

Matsutake mushrooms

There is a well-known saying in Japan that matsutake mushrooms have the best aroma and shimeji mushrooms have the best taste. The unique and a bit strong flavor of matsutake mushrooms has been preferred by Japanese people for over 1,000 years. The fall delicacy is regarded as an exclusive product like a truffle now. But, up to the mid-20th century, the brown mushrooms were very available for ordinary people while shiitakes were rare and expensive. The forest product is mainly eaten grilled, mixed into rice, boiled or steam-boiled in an earthenware teapot to enjoy the flavor in Japan. It is important to have a matsutake whose cap is not yet completely open, otherwise the aroma has faded away.

Matsutake mushrooms grow on roots of more than 20-year-old Japanese red pine trees, which live in nutritionally poor and dry soil. Domestic production of matsutake in Japan has been sharply reduced to around 100 tons due to massive deforestation of the trees for wooden pulp after the Second World War, devastation of the forests that spark production of soil rich in nutrients, pine wilt disease, after reaching a peak of 12,000 tons in 1941. It is also said that effects of global warming has exacerbated a shorp drop in yield for the autumn appetite. Today 95 percent of matsutake in the Japanese market comes from overseas countries. The largest supplier is China, followed by Turkey, the U.S. and Canada.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) announced on July 9, 2020 that matsutake was designated as an endangered species. It was categorized as “vulnerable,” the third, classified as critical the same as bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean. But, no restriction regarding the international trade in the species has been imposed. Matsutake has difficulty in carrying out artificial culture. Various research institutes, including Kindai University, are tackling to force matsutake. However, the techniques have not been established yet.

Okayama Prefecture ranks third in the nation in the annual yield for matsutake, after Iwate and Nagano prefectures. The mushrooms are harvested in October in the prefecture. They are at their peak from mid-October to late October. This year, a good harvest throughout Japan is bringing down the price of matsutake.

*Reference Sites:

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Science Portal by Japan Science and Technology Agency

The Asahi Shimbun Digital, July 9, 2020

Yasainavi.com

Mono Trendy, March 25, 2014

Kyoto Prefecture Web Site

Ehime Prefecture

Kindai University

nippon.com

The Sanyo Shimbun Digital, October 2, 2020

Past Seasonal Words

bench

  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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Specialties

  • Okayama Tourist Information Office

    Okayama Tourist Information Office

    2F JR Okayama Station, 1-1 Ekimotomachi, Kita-ku, Okayama City

    (by the ticket gate of the Shinkansen, or the bullet train)

    9:00-18:00 Closed from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1

    Language: English

  • Momotaro Tourist Information Center

    Momotaro Tourist Information Center

    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

  • Kurashiki Ekimae Tourist Information Office

    Kurashiki Ekimae Tourist Information Office

    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

    Language: English

    Tel: +81 86-424-1220

  • Kurashiki Kan Tourist Information Office

    Kurashikikan Tourist Information Office

    1-4-8, Chuo, Kurashiki City

    (in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter)

    9:00-18:00

    Language: English

    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.

  • Kurashiki Kan Tourist Information Office

    TAMANO Tourist Information Center

    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.