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Things to do in Okayama

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Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
Built in 1240, Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is both an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is counted among Japan’s top 100 castles. The castle is located atop a mountain at an altitude of 430 m, making it the highest fortress with an existing castle tower in Japan. Visitors to the castle are treated to a spectacular sight, especially in the early mornings of fall and winter when the clouds spread out to form a “sea of clouds” around the castle. Also in fall, when the trees change color, the landscape becomes painted in a deep vermilion as if the castle walls were aflame, offering visitors a truly majestic sight. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/949
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Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum
Located in Osafune, a town that once flourished as a major produce of Japanese swords, the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum is one of a limited number of sword museums and features a variety of Japanese swords on display. Visitors can learn about the history and manufacturing process for Japanese swords as well as experience the beauty and power of the swords up close. The museum features several special exhibitions throughout the year that combine animations and video games, making this a popular destination for sword fans from across the country. In the adjacent workshop, visitors can see the skill of Japanese sword artisans, including the process where tamahagane, steel made from iron sand, is heated to 1300°C and then hammered to make a plate. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/1073
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Tsuyama Castle
Kakuzan Park is on the ruins of an ancient castle, Tsuyama Castle, which was built about 400 years ago. The castle’s approximately 10 m tall stone wall remains today, greeting visitors with a majestic view of overlapping stones even from a distance. The ruin has been selected as one of Japan’s top 100 castles and has earned a spot as one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom sites. The Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival held every year in early to mid April gives visitors the chance to experience the park’s 1,000 or so cherry trees. After sunset, looking down from atop the stone wall at the cherry trees illuminated below, visitors will be treated to an unimaginably beautiful view. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/914
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Kibi Plain
The Kibi Plain is a charming, rural flatland just outside of central Okayama City that is covered in sprawling fields and dotted with shrines, temples and small clusters of farmhouses. The plain is best explored from an attractive cycling trail which visits several historic sights along the way. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5705.html
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Ohara Museum of Art
The symbol of the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, this private museum features Western works of art in an eye-catching building styled after a Greek temple. Based on Ohara Magosaburo’s collection of Western art, Ohara Museum of Art features a large collection of world-famous paintings and work such as one of El Greco’s “Annunciation” and Monet’s “Water Lilies.” The museum also features a pond with water lilies propagated from Monet’s residence. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/901
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Hiruzen-kogen Heights
Located on a gently sloping plateau, Hiruzen-kogen Heights is Japan’s leading resort area. The area is famous as the largest breeding zone for Jersey cows in Japan. Whether to take in the fresh greenery of spring or the fall foliage in autumn, the Hiruzen-kogen Heights Cycling Path is a popular cycling destination, and with hiking and camping in summer and playing in the snow in winter, the area offers visitors the chance to experience the richness of nature in any season. Visitors are also encouraged to try local gourmet offerings such as “Hiruzen Yakisoba” (noodles stir-fried in a miso-based sauce), “Genghis Khan” (a grilled mutton dish), and soft-serve ice cream and cheese made from the milk of the area’s Jersey cows. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/1079
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Iyama Hofuku-ji Temple
Iyama Hofuku-ji Temple was built in 1232 as a Zen temple. The temple is famous as the childhood training grounds for the painter Sesshu—the most prominent Japanese master of ink wash painting, which employs shading from a single-color inkstick. A popular attraction at the temple is the Buddhist practice of zazen, where worshippers sit in meditation for spiritual unity. Visitors can join early morning zazen sessions on the second Sunday of every month with no reservations required, and tea and sweets provided after the meditation offer a chance to experience the hospitality of Japanese culture. The temple’s fresh green of spring and vibrant foliage in autumn also make for beautiful sights. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/933
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Okutsu Onsen
With its riverside rotenburo (outdoor bath), Okutsu Onsen features numerous elegant inns and accommodations. Because soaking in the hot spring’s waters is said to make one’s skin white and smooth, this onsen is famously known as “Bijin no Yu” (Onsen of Beauty). “Ashibumi Sentaku,” also known as the “Washing Dance,” is performed by women in kimonos holding pails while stamping on garments and making washing motions with their toes. This “dance,” a noted attraction at Okutsu Onsen, is performed in the rotenburo on Sundays and public holidays from late March to early December. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the “Ashibumi Sentaku” at no charge as well as the area’s beautiful seasonal landscapes including fall foliage in autumn and snowfall in winter. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/1093
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Korakuen Garden
This quintessential Japanese garden was created roughly 300 years ago by the area’s daimyo (domain lord). A symbol of the power of the samurai, Okayama Korakuen Garden is considered one of the three great gardens of Japan alongside Kanazawa City’s Kenroku-en and Mito City’s Kairakuen. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/91
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Okayama Castle
Completed in 1597 after eight years of construction, Okayama Castle is one of Japan’s top 100 castles. After the keep was destroyed in the war, the castle was rebuilt in 1966. Also known as “U-jo (Crow Castle)” for its crow-like black outer wall, Okayama Castle is a popular counterpart to the white outer walls of Himeji Castle. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/776
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Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple
The ancient temple of Saidaiji Kannon-in was built around 1,200 years ago. Walking along the approach, visitors will pass by rows of traditional shops before entering the shrine’s gate and arriving at the main hall. https://www.okayama-japan.jp/en/spot/797