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Okayama Two-Day Travel Itinerary – Must-Visit Places, Shopping, And Food

Okayama Two-Day Travel Itinerary – Must-Visit Places, Shopping, And Food

Okayama 2019.07.21 Bookmark

Okayama is home to both major sightseeing spots such as the charming city of Kurashiki and lesser-known but beautiful places. We introduce places, facilities, stores, and local food that you should definitely try in Okayama.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by タグチ

Okayama - Splendid Views of the Seto Inland Sea!

Okayama has a warm climate and faces out towards the Seto Inland Sea. While it is home to many local specialties, it is famous for its delicious fruit.

In this article, we’ll introduce a two-day travel itinerary to iconic places such as Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture. We’ve also compiled a list of spots with scenic views that you'll want to share on your Instagram—even if you need to travel a bit further. Alluring shops and local cuisine have also been added to this article. This will surely become a satisfying trip where you can enjoy both Japanese scenery and flavors.

Direct International Flights to Okayama

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

There are various ways to access Okayama but the most convenient is by flying into Okayama Momotaro Airport.

In any event, a low-cost Taiwanese airline called tigerair, which currently has routes to major cities in Japan, also operates direct flights into Okayama. As of June 2019, there is one flight per day for the outbound and inbound routes between Taiwan's Taoyuan county and Okayama.

Limousine buses departing from the airport will arrive at Okayama Station in 30 minutes (760 yen one-way) or Kurashiki Station in about 35 minutes (1,130 yen one-way).

Okayama Momotaro Airport Website: https://www.okayama-airport.org/en/

Day One:
Fully Enjoy Sightseeing around Kurashiki!

First, we’ll introduce a one day plan for traveling around Kurashiki, a town famous for its traditional streets and culture. Kurashiki is situated at the center of Okayama and is filled with things to see including the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, which is lined with rows of historical structures, art museums, and more.

1. The Old Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

If you’re visiting Kurashiki for the first time, then you definitely should stop by the Bikan Historical Quarter. This historical district flourished from the Edo to Meiji period because it was a trade distribution center. Traditional Japanese structures, such as warehouses and townhouses, have been preserved mainly along Kurashiki River.

These structures are presently being reused as small stores, cafés, and museums, while some are still being used as homes. To access the Bikan Historical Quarter, it is about one kilometer from Kurashiki Station and approximately a ten-minute walk.

2. Explore the Town on Small Boats

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

If you're interested in leisurely sightseeing, boat tours are held along the Kurashiki River, which runs through the Bikan Historical Quarter. A boatman will guide you through the river flanked with willow trees that give the tour a touch of elegance. Please enjoy a scenic boat ride when the weather permits.

Kurashiki River Boat Dock Google Map

Okayama

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

If you have some time, then the Ohara Museum of Art is another tourist spot you’ll want to keep in mind. This museum exhibits a collection of Western art valued around the world, such as the acclaimed artists El Greco and Paul Gauguin—not to mention, it's a symbol of the town.

Ohara Museum of Art
Address: Okayama, Kurashiki, Chuo 1-1-15 Google Map
Official Website: https://www.ohara.or.jp/en/

3. Must-Visit Cafés in Okayama

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Yuurin-an

There are numerous fashionable cafés renovated from old Japanese homes in the Bikan Historical Quarter. We’ll introduce a couple of shops that have been gaining popularity.

First, Yuurin-an (Japanese) is a modern Japanese café located inside a renovated townhouse that simultaneously operates as a guesthouse. Many international tourists visit the shop for their "Happy Pudding": a specialty sweet decorated with a drawing of an adorable smiley face. They also have menus available in other languages, such as Chinese, so visitors can order with ease.

Okayama

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Ohara House Katalyzer is an old building that introduces the history and valuable records of the Ohara family, who sustained the cotton-spinning industry in Kurashiki. A book café is also located inside so you can drink coffee while relishing in the structure’s ambience.

4. Kurashiki Denim Street – A Collection of Denim Items

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Kurashiki Denim Street

Kurashiki is known as the birthplace of Japanese denim. Kojima, situated south of the city, is the center of these Japan-made denim items. Its charm lies in the seamless sewing and beautiful shades of blue.

Lined with shops along the Kurashiki River, Kurashiki Denim Street is where these domestically produced denim products are packed together on display.

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Kurashiki Denim Street

The street is brimming with fashion items, which naturally includes jeans, denim dresses, jackets, bags, and accessories. You’re sure to find an item that will catch your eye!

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Denim Bun. Picture courtesy of Kurashiki Denim Street

There are even original drinks and desserts in an eye-catching denim hue that are local specialties of the area. Tapioca drinks and soft-serve ice cream also showcase this beautiful indigo blue. The Denim Bun, which is gaining popularity for its bold color, is an item you’ll definitely want to sample.

Kurashiki Denim Street
Address: Okayama, Kurashiki, Chuo 1-10-11 Google Map

5. Kurashiki Hampu – Timeless Pieces of Canvas

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Alongside denim, Kurashiki Hampu is another specialty product of this scenic city. "Hampu" is a canvas cloth that has been used for ship sails since the late Edo period. Now, it is used in various products from canvas tote bags to oil painting canvases. Approximately 70% of the material is made domestically in Kurashiki and Kurashiki Hampu is synonymous with high-quality canvas cloth.

You’ll also find Kurashiki Hampu shops in the Bikan Historical Quarter so please check them out. Colorful bags from BAISTONE Kurashiki Bikan are fashionable and can be worn by people of all ages.

6. Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki – Immerse Yourself in Shopping

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki

After a round of sightseeing in Bikan Historical Quarter, head over to Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki. It is conveniently located just three minutes on foot from the North Exit of Kurashiki Station.

Here, you’ll find various services available for international tourists including a special coupon when you show your passport. The outlet is complete with brands from around the world with over 50 stores offering duty-free services. Definitely stop by the outlet if you're looking to enjoy some shopping!

Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki
Address: Okayama, Kurashiki, Kotobukicho 12-3 Google Map
Official Website: https://mitsui-shopping-park.com/mop/kurashiki/english/

Day Two:
Travel to Okayama’s Signature Tourist Spots

Okayama

Picture from OKAYAMA - Hop On A Tram To Get To Popular Tourist Destinations, Korakuen And Okayama Castle!

Next, we’ll guide you through Okayama City—home to numerous famous and historical spots such as Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden.

It’s most convenient to use the tram when traveling around central sightseeing spots like Okayama Castle. Take the Higashiyama Line and exit at Shiroshita bus stop to arrive within a ten-minute walk from Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden. The fare is also a reasonable price of 100 yen.

1. Okayama Castle – A Towering Jet Black Keep

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

The famous Okayama Castle is also nicknamed the "Crow Castle" for its black appearance. A breathtaking view overlooking the city of Okayama will extend before you from the tenshukaku (*1) on the sixth floor.

Inside the castle keep, you’ll find information on Naoie Ukita, who governed this area during the Sengoku period, and historical records of the Ikeda family who served as castle lords for following generations. Kimono wearing experiences that allow visitors to try on clothing from this time period are also conducted for free, making it a perfect commemoration of your trip.

*1 Tenshukaku: the highest structure built in a Japanese castle. It is the symbol of that castle.

Okayama Castle
Address: Okayama, Okayama, Kita, Marunouchi 2-3-1 Google Map
Official Website: https://okayama-kanko.net/ujo/english/index.html

2. Korakuen – One of Japan’s Three Famous Gardens

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Korakuen, located next to Okayama Castle, is one of Japan’s three famous gardens alongside Kanazawa's Kenrokuen and the Kairakuen in Mito. This wonderful garden called a “daimyo garden” was commissioned by the hanshu (*2) that governed the land during the Edo period.

It was awarded three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan for its picturesque scenery adorned with tsukiyama (*3), canals, and tearooms. Take a stroll in the lush green lawns embellished in seasonal flowers, including cherry blossoms and azaleas, and enjoy a drink of tea. It will take one to two hours to stroll through the gardens.

*2 Han: a domain ruled by a daimyo in the Edo period. A hanshu is the lord of that domain.
*3 Tsukiyama: an area in a Japanese garden where earth and rocks are piled together to resemble a mountain.

Korakuen
Address: Okayama, Kita, Korakuen 1-5 Google Map
Official Website: https://okayama-korakuen.jp/section/english/

3. Chiya Beef – Okayama Brand Beef for Lunch

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Chiya Beef, a local brand of wagyu beef, is a must-have meal in Okayama. Characterized by its well-balanced fat and high-quality red meat, it is a very rare type of beef.

If you’re near Okayama Station, there are popular restaurants where you can savor Chiya Beef such as Yakiniku J’s En, a five-minute walk from the station’s west exit, or Niku no Hosoda (Japanese), a five-minute walk from the east exit. There are some hotel restaurants near the station that also serve this Okayama brand of wagyu.

4. Kibitsu Shrine – Okayama’s Best Spiritual Spot

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

First, you must take a fifteen-minute ride on the JR Kibi Line from Okayama Station. Kibitsu Shrine, Okayama’s best spiritual spot, is ten minutes on foot from Kibitsu Station. The shrine is said to be where the famous Japanese folktale “Momotaro” (*4) alongside legends of ogre extermination originated.

The inner shrine is the only one of its kind in Japan and built in an unusual style that consists of two overlapping sanctuaries. The building is full of many things to see, including a beautiful 400-meter-long corridor that stretches out from the inner shrine. The shrine is believed to have various blessings—including matchmaking, easy childbirth, and longevity—so be sure to make a visit.

*4 Momotaro: a story about a boy hero named Momotaro born from a peach who goes on to exterminate ogres together with a monkey, a pheasant, and a dog. It is a widely known folk tale in Japan.

Kibitsu Shrine
Address: Okayama, Okayama, Kita, Kibitsu 931 Google Map
Official Website: http://www.kibitujinja.com/ (Japanese)

5. AEON MALL Okayama – Shopping Right by the Station

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of AEON MALL Okayama

AEON MALL Okayama is where 350 shops—including fashion, general goods, food, and more—and various facilities are concentrated in one building right by Okayama Station.

The restaurants, in particular, exceed over 70 in number. You can casually enjoy Japanese dishes like sushi or shabu-shabu at many of these restaurants, which is perfect for families. There are also over 60 duty-free shops with free Wi-Fi available. The mall is a five-minute walk through an underground passage from the JR Okayama Station ticket gates.

For those interested in shopping, Sun Station Terrace Okayama is also recommended. Situated inside Okayama Station, the shopping mall has a full selection of well-known local shops that serve regional cuisines and wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets).

There are also several shopping streets in the area between Okayama Station and Okayama Castle. At night, izakayas (Japanese pubs) and restaurants are bustling with activity. Along the way, you'll spot Okayama Ekimae Shopping Street, the retro Hokancho Shopping Street, and Omotecho Shopping Street lined with long-established shops. If you have some spare time, please take a stroll!

AEON MALL Okayama
Address: Okayama, Okayama, Kita, Shimoishii 1-2-1 Google Map
Official Website: https://en.aeonmall.global/mall/okayama-aeonmall/

6. Savor Okayama Soul Food for Dinner

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

When night rolls around, please try the local food in downtown Okayama. Demi Katsudon is a regional dish consisting of a donburi (rice bowl) topped with pork cutlet and covered in a demi-glace sauce. While its served in many restaurants and cafés, Ajitsukasa Nomura and Yamato are popular and well-known for their versions of the dish. There are often customers lined outside the door, but these restaurants are definitely worth the wait.

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

You also can't forget about the seafood from the Seto Inland Sea. Kakioko is popular soul food famed for its luxurious taste. This flavorful fried dish is a specialty of Hinase, Bizen in Okayama and is essentially an okonomiyaki filled with generous amounts of oysters.

Okonomiyaki Mori is a popular restaurant if you’re looking for shops near Okayama Station.

Okayama

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Other regional favorites include Okayama Barazushi, a dish made of various ingredients including seafood, mushrooms, and vegetables arranged on top of sushi rice, and Mamakari Zushi, made with small fish marinated in vinegar. Regional seafood dishes from the Seto Inland Sea are definitely something you’ll want to try!

Amazing Sights and Healing Spots in Okayama

1. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle – A Castle in the Clouds

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, located in the northwestern part of the prefecture, is famously ranked as one of Japan’s three great mountain castles. Also called the "Castle in the Sky," it is visited by many people for the breathtaking view. Head to the observatory to gaze at the castle that appears to be floating above the clouds like pictured above. You'll have a higher chance of seeing this view if you visit the castle early in the morning on a clear day with a large temperature difference, especially from late October to early December.

It will take two hours from Okayama Station by train and bus to get to the castle. To arrive at the castle tower—located 430 meters above sea level—you’ll have to walk for an additional 20 minutes on a slope lined by steep rocks. Taxis (Bitchu Matsuyama Castle Sightseeing Shared Cloud Taxi) that take you to the observatory from the nearest station, Bitchu-Takahashi Station, also operate during the season.

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
Address: Okayama, Takahashi, Uchisange 1 Google Map

2. Hiruzen Highlands – Taste Freshly Squeezed Milk!

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Hiruzen Highlands is a highland area surrounded by mountains in the northernmost part of Okayama. It is famous for prosperous dairy farming.

Hiruzen Jersey Land is an especially popular spot where you can interact with Jersey cows and enjoy farm food. Please try their soft serve ice cream made with freshly squeezed milk alongside their savory offerings of steak and cheese fondue. There are also other facilities on this idyllic venue, such as an amusement park, herb garden, hot spring, and campsite. It takes about two hours by car from Okayama City.

Hiruzen Highlands
Address: Okayama, Maniwa, Hiruzen-Kamifukuda Google Map
Official Website: https://www.maniwa.or.jp/en/destinations/index.html#D_HiruzenArea

3. Manabe Island – The Cat Island of the Seto Inland Sea

An Okayama Travel Plan – Sightsee Kurashiki, Food, And Shopping!

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Manabe Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea region, has garnered popularity as the “cat island.” You’ll encounter more cats than people here. Please enjoy yourself by taking pictures and petting the cats while also being mindful of not causing harm to the island’s natural environment.

Eight regular passenger vessels operate every day from Kasaoka Station, which is accessible in 40 minutes on the JR San’yo Main Line from Okayama Station. To reach the island, disembark the ship at Honura Port, where plenty of restaurants and observatories are nearby.

Manabe Island (Honura Port)
Google Map
Official Website: https://www.kasaoka-kankou.jp/en/island/manabeshima/

A Recommended 4-Day Okayama Travel Itinerary

For those visiting Okayama from Taiwan, we’ve created a four-day travel plan that conveniently fits the arrival timeline from Taoyuan International Airport. If you’ll be arriving on a direct flight, it will be easier to travel around various sites with this recommended plan.

Day One: Travel and Shopping

Okayama

Okayama Station. Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Direct flights from Taiwan arrive at Okayama Airport in the evenings. On your first day, why not head to Okayama Station and partake in some shopping and food around the station. You'll have time afterward to prepare for the second day of your trip.

15:05 Arrive at Okayama Airport
16:00 Take the bus from Okayama Airport
16:30 Arrive at Okayama Station
17:00 – 19:00 Shopping at Ekimae Shopping Street, AEON MALL, etc.
Dinner Go to a teppan (iron plate) restaurant to eat Chiya Beef

Day Two: Sightseeing Around the Okayama Area

Okayama

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

For day two, visit signature sightseeing spots near Okayama Station, including the Okayama Castle, Korakuen Garden, and Kibitsu Shrine. Please indulge in some tasty Okayama soul food for lunch and dinner!

Morning Walk around Okayama Castle, Korakuen Garden
Lunch Take the tram to a demi katsudon restaurant in the city
Afternoon Go to Kibitsu Shrine
Dinner Eat kakioko at an okonomiyaki shop in front of the station, then barhop around popular izakayas in the shopping district

Day Three: Sightseeing in Kurashiki

Okayama

Picture courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

For day three, take the whole day to enjoy sightseeing in Kurashiki! Travel around the Bikan Historical Quarter, head to traditional cafes, then enjoy some retail therapy while shopping at the outlet mall.

Morning – Afternoon Explore and have lunch in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Evening Shopping at Mitsui Outlet Park Kurashiki

Day Four: More Shopping and Traveling

There will be some free time in the morning on your last day. It would be a great idea to go searching for souvenirs at AEON MALL or in the station building. Then head to the airport on an afternoon bus.

Morning Search for souvenirs at AEON MALL Okayama and Okayama Station Building followed by lunch
12:30 Head to the airport on a bus via Okayama Station

What about Access from Osaka, Tokyo, and Hiroshima?

Okayama

Access from Osaka

Traveling on the San’yo Shinkansen from Osaka is convenient because you won’t need to transfer. It will take about 50 minutes (5,500 yen for unreserved seats) on the Nozomi train from Shin-Osaka to Okayama.

Access from Tokyo

From Tokyo, there are a total of ten flights operated by various companies bound for Okayama Airport via Haneda Airport.

The Shinkansen (bullet train) will take approximately three hours and 20 minutes. However, if you travel by plane, it will only take one hour and fifteen minutes. For more affordable prices and efficiency, there are also night buses that depart from Shinjuku around 21:00 and arrive at Okayama Station the next morning.

Access from Hiroshima

Because Hiroshima is situated in the same San’yo region as Okayama, it's a popular tourist city you’ll also want to visit on your trip.

From Hiroshima Station, it will take about three hours by conventional train lines to arrive at Okayama Station while only 40 minutes by shinkansen. Ten roundtrip express buses are also available everyday—priced at 2,900 yen and 5,200 yen for a one-way and roundtrip ticket, respectively. The bus will normally take about two hours and 30 minutes.

Enjoy Your Visit to Okayama!

Okayama is brimming with alluring sightseeing spots, including Kurashiki and much more. Don’t forget to try juices and cakes made from peaches, grapes, and other specialty fruits if they're in season!

Because this prefecture isn't as crowded as Tokyo or Osaka, you'll be able to comfortably enjoy a relaxing trip steeped in nature, history, and local flavors.

Main image courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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