From Tokyo, you can take a shinkansen (bullet train) directly to Okayama. A cheaper option is to take an overnight bus (a grueling 9 hour ride, not recommended) to Tsuyama, just north of Kumenan (about ¥9500).
Osaka is far closer to Kumenan than Tokyo, and a shinkansen ride will take a mere hour to reach Okayama. Again, a bus is available, a 3-hour ride into Tsuyama (about ¥2900). From Okayama, take a local JR train on the Tsuyama line to Kumenan, roughly a 40 minute ride (¥740). From Tsuyama, take the JR train heading toward Okayama, a 20 minute ride. Trains depart about once an hour. The stops for Kumenan are Koume, Yuge, and Tanjoji.
Because Kumenan is a sprawling town, it's difficult to get around without a car. However, the local trains are convenient, as they all stop at the three main sections of town: Koume, Yuge, and Tanjoji. The three stops are only minutes from each other on the JR line and the train stations are conveniently located on main streets where most of the restaurants and shops are. Taxis are available. Another highly recommended option is to get a bicycle and enjoy the landscape as you bike through town.
Locally grown muscat grapes and peaches are famous throughout Okayama, and Kumenan is one of the best places to buy fresh produce. Other fruits to try include mandarin oranges, strawberries grown in greenhouses, and apples the size of soccer balls! Try the local supermarkets or small grocery stores. Better yet, inquire about purchasing the fruits directly from a farmer, where you may get a better deal. The fruits in Kumenan are fresh, sweet, and thoroughly enjoyable.
If you happen to run into the local bread lady, who sells freshly baked breads and pastries from the back of her van, make sure to check out the bags of red bean paste buns, whole loaves of sweet bread, individually wrapped chestnut, custard, or chocolate cream rolls, and much more. If you crave savory items, the pizza toast, sandwiches, and meat-filled pastries are all delicious.
Tea ceremonies are an important part of Japanese tradition and culture, and there is one delightful store in Kumenan that specializes in tea and tea ceremony. Near the Yuge train station, the unassuming store is outfitted with dozens of varieties of tea, exquisite clay or porcelain tea kettles, small sets of tea cups, trays, different strainers, and more tea-related instruments. Set into the tatami mat floor is an old-fashioned stove where water is boiled. If you have even the slightest interest in tea, be sure to stop by this place.
There are no bars or clubs in Kumenan, but most restaurants and all grocery stores—big or small—serve alcohol. Also, there’s several vending machines across town that sell beer. The best thing to do is buy some alcohol, arrange a get together with several Japanese friends who are fond of drinking, and enjoy a summer backyard barbecue together.
Homestays are the best way to experience life in Kumenan. While English-speaking people in the town are rare, almost everyone is kind, generous, and helpful. Kumenan townspeople are, for the most part, welcoming and curious about foreigners.
Because of its central location in Okayama prefecture, Kumenan is a convenient place to access all areas of Okayama. To travel around Okayama, take the local JR trains to cities like Okayama, Kurashiki, Tsuyama, Kasaoka, Bizen, or Niimi. Setouchi (a merger of the towns Osafune, Oku, and Ushimado of olive fame), Katsuyama (wild Japanese monkeys plus the biggest waterfall in western Japan), Takebe (just a stop away from Kumenan, this town has trendy eateries, an Okayama International Villa, and great onsens), and Wake (while only a thirty-minute drive from Kumenan, Wake takes 1 hour and 20 minutes by train, but it’s worth it for the famous Pizza King) are also great places to check out during your stay. If you wish to explore outside of Okayama, Tottori and Hiroshima prefectures are nearby and easily accessible by local train.