Difference between revisions of "Okayama (prefecture)"
Revision as of 07:59, 16 February 2009
Okayama is a hub for trains: it's a station of the San'yo Shinkansen line connecting Kyushu and Hiroshima towards Osaka, and there are frequent departures south across the Seto Inland Sea to Takamatsu and other points in Shikoku.
123bus  is company which provides daily night time bus services between Okayama and Tokyo, between Okayama and Osaka. With online booking services in English.
Bizen is most famous for being the birthplace of Bizen swords and pottery. During the 8th century, Bizen swords were considered to be the highest quality swords in Japan, and they were in very high demand. At the Bizen Osafune Museum, you can learn more about Bizen swords and how they are made. An excellent place to learn about the history of Bizen pottery is the Okayama Prefectural Museum of Bizen Pottery, which displays Bizen pottery dating from the earliest pottery to today.
The Shizutani School is another famous site in Bizen. Built in 1670 by Lord Ikeda, this was the first school to be opened to all citizens regardless of rank or class.
Kurashiki is a well-preserved, as well as one of the largest, historic districts in Japan. Within the historic district are a wide variety of museums. The Ohara Museum of Art is arguably the best museum displaying famous European artwork in all of Japan.
Outside of the historic district, close to Kurashiki Station is the Ohashi House, which dates back to 1793. It was the former resident of one of the first merchant families to obtain equal rank as the samurai class during the time when the samurai were fading and the merchant class was gaining power.
Niimi City is home to two famous caves; Ikura Ravine and Maki Cave. It's quite popular for those interested in getting out of the cities and experiencing nature.
It also has another one of Japan's Top 3, Saijo Inari, which is one of the three most famous Inari shrines in Japan.
Okayama Castle is the most visited castle in the prefecture. Although only the turret remains from the original castle, its black color makes it unique to behold.
The city also features a variety of museums in the Culture District. The Okayama Orient Museum is quite popular among visitors, but other worthwhile museums include the Okayama Prefectural Museum, Yumeji Art Museum, Okayama Prefectural Art Museum, and the Hayashibara Museum of Art. Just next to the station is the Okayama Digital Museum.
Kibi Plain Cycling Trail A ride along this trail will take you to many interesting historical sites relating the the ancient Kibi Kingdom that once thrived in Okayama. The trail is 15 kilometers long and is an estimated two hour bike ride however, if you take the time to stop at the sites along the way, you can easily make it a day (or half-day) adventure. It stretches from Okayama City to Soja City, and some of the most famous sites include Kibitsu Shrine, Tsukuriyama Tomb (the fourth largest in Japan), Bitchu Kokubunji Temple, the ruins of Takamatsu Castle, and many more. It also contains many sites related to Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto, a prince who is said to have been the original inspiration for the famous Momotaro story.
Soja was named after Soja Shrine, the famous shrine within the city. It has claims to half of the Kibi Plain Cycling Trail, as mentioned above. The famous Iyama Hofukuji Temple is also located within Soja. Part of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, the famous poet Sesshu studied at this temple during the Muromachi Period.
Bitchu Takamatsu Castle is an original Japanese castle, as well as the highest. There are only twelve original castles left in Japan, and as a mountain castle, Bitchu Takamatsu Castle is a unique and rare site.
The most famous site in Tamano is Ojigatake Hill, which features interesting and mysterious rock formations, as well as a great view of the Seto Inland Sea.
Tsuyama is a beautiful city in the northeast of the prefecture. Kakuzan Park contains the ruins of Tsuyama Castle, which was considered to be more beautiful than Himeji Castle. Kakuzan Park is considered to be the best place in Okayama Prefecture to view cherry blossoms.
Other sites in Tsuyama include Shurakuen Garden, a beautiful garden dating back to 1657, Joto Street, a well-preserved historic district that was part of the pilgrimage route to Izumo Shrine, and the Tsuyama Archives of Western Learning, which give visitors information about Japan's early contact with the West and the important role Tsuyama played.
The most famous hot springs in the prefecture are Yubara Hot Springs, Yunogo Hot Springs, and Okutsu Hot Spring, all located in the northern part of the prefecture. Each of these make great getaway destinations to relax and rejuvinate.
If these are too far out of the way, you can also try Niimi Chiya Hot Springs in Niimi, Asagiri Onsen in Takahashi, or Green Hills Tsuyama in Tsuyama. The Seto Ohashi Spa Resort in Kurashiki is also well worth a visit.
Okayama's Muscat grapes and peaches are famous.
Kibi Dango is a famous treat that originated in Bizen in Okayama Prefecture.
As you might expect from a grape-growing region, Okayama is famous for wine (at least in Japan). There is "Sapporo Okayama winery" that represents West Japan.
Okayama is the main point of access to Shikoku from Honshu via the Seto Ohashi Bridge and the Marine Liner. Kagawa Prefecture features the breathtaking Ritsurin Garden and the historic Yashima Island, where the Battle of Yashima took place during the Gempei Wars in the city of Takamatsu. In Marugame lies one of Japan's original castles, Marugame Castle. Throughout the island of Shikoku are the famous temples of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Along with Marugame Castle, the island is also home to three other original castles: Kochi Castle in Kochi Prefecture, Iyo Matsuyama Castle in Ehime Prefecture, and Uwajima Castle in Ehime Prefecture. The famous whirlpools of Naruto are located in Tokushima Prefecture.
Tottori (prefecture) to the north is most famous for its natural sites, including the Tottori Sand Dunes, the only dunes in Japan, located in Tottori City. In the eastern region lies Mount Daisen, which is a popular place for climbing, hiking, and skiing (in the winter). Daisen-ji Temple is also located on this mountain. The Mitokusan's Nageiredo is a mysterious temple built on a cliff in Misasa in which to this day nobody knows how it was built.
Hiroshima (prefecture) lies to the west of Okayama Prefecture. The nearest city is Fukuyama, featuring a variety of art and historical museums, as well as Fukuyama Castle. The most famous sites in this prefecture are Genbaku Dome in Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum in the city of Hiroshima and Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. Onomichi is another interesting destination with its own 88 Temples of Innoshima, inspired by the famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku. It also has many places to view flowers and the Innoshima Suigun Castle.