Okayama was actually my 38th prefecture conquered in April this year. I bought my All Japan JR Pass and die die want to travel from Tokyo to Shimane as my mission was to visit Izumo Taisha (the second post powerful shrine after Ise Jingu).
(I should start a #47 Prefectures record for @cheesiepetit too!)
Okayama was a by-the-way stop since it is en route to Shimane prefecture, just to check it off my list. We put up a night at Tomata Onsen (苫田温泉) after a whole day of Shinkansen ride (over 650km from Tokyo!!) and headed straight to Shimane the next day.
I think Okayama was very emo that I didn’t bother to explore the city so it sent me back in November to see allll of it. Thank you for loving me, Japan.
First of all, where is Okayama Prefecture?
It is located in the Chugoku region on Japan’s main island (honshu), nestled between big cities Osaka and Hiroshima. Okayama is also the second largest city after Hiroshima in Chugoku region. (Where’s Chugoku? Please refer to my blog post: 47 Prefectures.)
What is Okayama famous for?
Okayama is also lovingly known as the Land of Sunshine, and the Fruit Kingdom, as it is blessed with lots of sunshine and mild climate, making it a perfect place to grow high quality, delicious fruits. I have worked with restaurants a few times just to promote Okayama’s fruits!!
The most famed fruit from Okayama is none other than Momo, juicy, sweet peaches. Do you know the tale of Momotaro 桃太郎, the story about a boy born from a giant peach, and set on an adventure with his 3 sidekicks – a dog, a monkey and a pheasant? The legend is said to have taken place in Okayama. So it’s no wonder that peach is the most symbolic icon for Okayama prefecture!
How to get to Okayama?
From overseas, your best way to get there is through Kansai International Airport or Hiroshima Airport (since Silkair flies direct from Changi to Hiroshima! Lucky you guys!). If you are coming from other parts of Japan, there’s also an Okayama Momotaro Airport (1 hour from Tokyo). There are also direct flights from Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Hongkong!
I flew MH from KLIA to Kansai, so here’s what I did:
from Kansai Internatinal Airport (KIX), take the JR line and board the Airline Express HARUKA to Shin-Osaka Station. The journey is 50 minutes.
From Shin-Osaka, transit to Okayama by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Depending on the Shinkansen type and timetable, the fastest journey is 43 minutes by Nozomi. (Other Shinkansen such as Hikari and Komada takes longer time, do take note.)
From Okayama Station, we headed straight to Kurashiki, which is another 20 minutes away by JR from Okayama Station. Take a short walk and you will see before you a spectacular view of…
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
The first thing that caught my eyes and the first few pictures I took of my visit to the Kurashiki Bikan District were of swans. Wow Japan? You have Koi fishes in your longkang and then now swans in the river by a busy street?!
Swans are a big thing for tourists!
Welcome to Kurashiki.
Kurashiki was an important transportation hub in the Edo period. Many merchants built storehouses in the river port and the traditional townscape is preserved until today.
I’m sure as the season changes it will have an entirely different ambiance!
So many super photogenic spots!
Haha stole a photo of this pretty onesan. Very got feel ok, if you wear kimono for photoshoot!
By the way you get to rent a kimono starting from only 3,780 yen! Super cheap ok considering it’s kimono instead of yukata!
Traditional Boat Tour
The willows, little wooden boat gives it a traditional oriental charm.
And for 500 yen (250 for children) you get to be on the boat ride!
Enjoy your 20 minutes of picturesque canal tour, watch out for swans!
Lots of instagenic photo ops along the main street.
Literally “Kurashiki’s Romance”. I think it’s indeed quite a romantic little town!
Other than traditional craft, enjoy the contemporary kawaii too! What a retro-modern little town.
Momotaro Gimmick Museum
If you have time, do check out this attraction with lots of optical illusion used in the olden times!
Did you know that Okayama is the birthplace of washi tape (Japanese masking tape)? The famous washi tape company MT is based in Kurashiki.
This is a cool looking washi tape specialty shop featuring hundreds of washi tape in different designs, starting from as low as 100 yen!
It really makes the best souvenirs for you to bring back home as they are attractively designed and affordable.
Stationary enthusiasts will be spending lots of time picking your fav washi tapes. Do allocated enough time for yourself shopping XD.
Jeans are a big thing here in Kurashiki. I’ll blog about that in more details in a separate post.
But please enjoy all the fashion and accessories made of denim while you’re here.
A Ghibli shop spotted. I realized that they are always located at traditional old streets, like Kamakura (Kanagawa), Kawagoe (Saitama) and here at Kurashiki Bikan!
Excuse me what is this?!? Who has forgotten two basketful of yellow fruits in front of the shrine?? Or are these for… gods?
Unable to contain my curiosity, I paced up to have a look of the piece of white paper, it says there “feel free to take home”. What the hell Japan, longkang fish, tourist swans, now you want to give free fruits to everyone.
Japan, we don’t deserve you.
Instagenic cafe. And that awkward moment when a diner came right out while I was pretending to want to go in. To be even a surviving influencer is tough these days.
Quiter part of the street. Do you notice that there’s no electrical poles? In 2008, they started burying the power lines underground to preserve the scenic beauty of the traditional street scene. The effort well appreciated!
Murasuzume Making Experience at Kikkodo (橘香堂)
A Kurashiki specialty that’s made of azuki paste wrapped in a spongy egg flour pancake.
For just 600 yen, you can try making it yourself (3 pieces).
A quick hand-made snack on the go while you go on with sightseeing.
If animals are your thing, there’s an Owl’s Forest, Mameshiba Cafe (want!!!) and Hedgehog’s Forest too!
Stop by Hamayoshi for an authentic local cuisine, especially fish dishes caught fresh from the Seto Inland Sea.
Honestly I don’t get to eat much fresh fish back in SG and KL (I don’t know why, we are so surrounded by the ocean!! And fish is also the best religion-neutral source of animal protein, why aren’t we having more fish-based cuisines? I want to start a fish-eating movement! Who’s with me??), I really appreciate a good fish-intense meal whenever I am in Japan. Sashimi, sushi, grilled fish, fried fish… bring them all on!
Fishfishfishfishfish!!! The sashimi was so so good!
This is “Mamakari”, a famous local small herring that could be eaten in many ways (usually vinegared), including sushi. Other local fish on the menu were Aka and Sawara.
That’s all for today! We’ll stop at lunch and take a break haha.
This blog post did not even cover half a day of our trip in Kurashiki lol. I was trying to make it brief and informative but cannot. Always ended up super long-winded. Forgive my cheong hei ness omg I think my auntiness is peaking. I guess that’s why I could never ever catch up with my #47prefectures blog posts. Leaving the rest for next!
I think I’d love Okayama, seeing as it’s known for its fruits (I’m a huge fruit-lover… fruit over candy any day)! 🙂 And I would gladly have a meal of just fish, too. I’m lucky since I live in Hong Kong so there are plenty of seafood and fish-based dishes! Thank you for the lovely post, Cheesie! ❤️
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog