Administrative and commercial center, as well as a crossroads between the San’in region and the island of Shikoku, Okayama was a prosperous manor city between the 16th and 19th centuries. Today you can admire a beautiful castle, the famous Korakuen Garden and numerous museums.
Places to visit
Okayama City Oriental Museum
It is the first museum in Japan dedicated exclusively to the art and culture of the Near and Middle East, following the donation of 1947 objects to the city. Today almost 5,000 pieces are on display to visitors, classified into four themes: from hunters and gatherers to farmers and ranchers, formation of an urban culture and ancient empires, Hellenic and Persian cultures, and finally the Islamic world.
- Shiroshita Tram Stop, a 15-minute walk from Okayama Station.
Okayama Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts exhibits works by artists related to the prefecture, from the Middle Ages to modern times. In particular, it houses a landscape painting of Sesshu (late 15th century), declared an Important Cultural Asset, and another that represents Hotei, one of the seven gods of fortune, by the hand of the great fencing master Miyamoto Musashi (17th century) .
- 5 minute walk from Shiroshita tram stop.
Okayama Prefectural Museum
The museum displays objects related to the history and culture of the prefecture, including archaeological pieces found during excavations in the area: objects of art, sculpture, ceramics, swords and armor, etc.
- 1 minute walk from Korakuen-mae bus stop, 10 minute walk from Shiroshita tram stop.
Situated on the east bank of the Asahi River, Korakuen is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan (along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Kairakuen in Mito). The 14-hectare garden was created in 1700. Here you can find old tea houses, large lawns, beautiful lakes, graceful groves, quiet hills, walks and waterfalls. All of this is carefully combined to create harmony with the surrounding hills and mountains. As the seasons go by, maples, cherry trees and plum trees offer beautiful landscapes.
- Korakuen-mae bus stop, 10 minute walk from Shiroshita tram stop.
This castle dates from the second half of the 16th century and was the residence of the Ikeda family, who controlled the region. The large four-story keep was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in 1966. Today it is a museum of local history. From the top floor, there is a beautiful view of the city. Okayama Castle is also known as Ujo (or Raven Castle) as it is completely painted black.
- 3 minute walk from Kencho-mae bus stop; 10 minute walk from the Kencho-dori tram stop.
Hayashibara Museum of Fine Arts
Based on the splendid collection of the powerful Ikeda clan, this museum exhibits more than 10,000 objects and works of Japanese art, paintings, calligraphies, sabers, armor, Noh costumes, etc., including national treasures and important cultural assets.
- 3 minute walk from Kencho-mae bus stop; 7 minute walk from the Kencho-dori tram stop.
http://www.hayashibara-museumofart.jp/ (Japanese only)
Okayama Symphony Concert Building
With impressive architecture, this building houses one of the three main symphonic concert halls in Japan.
- Shiroshita tram stop.
Okayama digital museum
- Opened in 2005, this museum offers the past and present of the city through virtual reality.
- 2 minute walk from Okayama station.
A little further
An excursion to the outskirts of Okayama leads us to the gates of the Bizen region, world famous for its pottery. Near the Imbe station, some workshops are open to the public to observe the process of making ceramics or, why not, get started in this art. It is the ideal place to buy quality souvenirs: tea bowls, sake bottles, vases, etc.
- Imbe Station 35 minutes from Okayama Station on the JR Ako line.
Tokyo Haneda Airport> (1 hour 15 minute flight)> Okayama Airport> 30 minute bus> Okayama Station
Tokyo Station> (4 hours 20 minutes by Shinkansen Hikari)> Okayama Station
Kyoto Station> (1 hour 30 minutes by Shinkansen Hikari)> Okayama Station