Mt. Ōjigatake is a mountain with various oddly shaped rocks on the border between the two cities – Tamano (玉野) and Kurashiki (倉敷) in Okayama prefecture. The view of the Seto Inland Sea along the hiking trail and from the summit is what makes the mountain a popular spot among the locals. This is especially the case when a thousand or so cherry blossoms colours one part of the mountain with its light pink petals from mid-March to early April (*´ω｀).
It is also one of the best paragliding sites in Japan. When the weather is good, you will see paragliders taking off towards the magnificent Seto Inland Sea!
If you are after some hidden gems in the Chūgoku area, then come to Sōja City (総社市) in Okayama Prefecture the beautiful nature spots that the non-locals might not be aware of. Apart from the scenic places, you will also find a castle that used to house demons. And at the other side of the city, there is this shrine that has the most unique wooden plaques in Japan!
Many people know about Okayama because of the famous black Okayama Castle and the garden Kōrakuen that was chosen to be one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan. But the city is more than just these two top destinations. There is a shrine where you can hear a god’s answer in a boiling pot, a museum full of waving cats made of various materials, the temple where the Naked Festival takes place in February each year, and much more!
Tamano city (玉野市) in Okayama prefecture is a great place to visit for outdoor activity enthusiasts as well as any art connoisseurs. From the gigantic “smiley rock” at the top of the mountain to the large fish sculpture made of items washed ashore, the artistic spirits of the Tamano citizens can be observed throughout the city! Bouldering and paragliding activities are available at the summit of one of the mountains. The same summit also acts as an idyllic lookout towards the renowned sunsets over the Seto Inland Sea (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Kojima District (児島郡) in Kurashiki City Okayama Prefecture is Japan’s denim mecca. As soon as you step out of the JR train, you will be surprised by the amount of jeans-related decoration throughout the district.
But Kojima is more than just the Kojima Jeans Street. The sunset from Mt. Washu (鷲羽山) was chosen to be the 100 Best Sunsets In Japan. The 6.3 km promenade with a starting point close to JR Kojima Station is another attraction that cyclists and hikers come to Kojima for. And if you love Japanese student uniforms, have a free cosplay session at the Kojima Student Uniform Museum!
If you enjoy walking along a beach, don’t miss out on the Kuroshima Venus Road (黒島ヴィーナスロード) that connects the Kuroshima Island (黒島) with the Nakanoko Island (中ノ小島) and the Hashinokojima Island (端ノ小島). When the tide is low, a romantic sandy road will appear that connects the three islands located in the Ushimadoseto Strait (牛窓瀬戸). And if you ask what is romantic about this road, it is because of the heart-shaped stones that are lying along this road!
Kurashiki City (倉敷市) is more than just the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区). Not too far from this popular attraction, there are a couple of unique spots that might excite you if you are a collector or a Japanese sword admirer. Just a 40 minute train ride away, you will be able to source Japan’s best denim from Kojima District. And, you will get one of the best views of the Seto Ōhashi Bridge (瀬戸大橋) and the Seto Inland Sea!
If you admire pottery, then you will definitely want Bizen City (備前市) to be on your itinerary. You can easily spend a whole day strolling through all the pottery shops scattered around JR Imbe Station. We are sure that you will find some exquisite pieces of artwork that you would like to own. As one of the six oldest kilns in Japan, there is even a shrine that is mostly decorated with locally produced ceramics! And, if that isn’t enough to impress you, how about a shrine where they deified cows to worship as gods? When you pay homage, you throw little calves into the “donation box” instead of throwing money!
If you enjoy strolling along the beach as the sun slowly disappears from the horizon, be sure to stop by Setouchi City (瀬戸内市) in Okayama Prefecture. The sunset you will be seeing was chosen to be one of the top 100 sunsets in Japan! If you decide to book a “sunset kayaking course”, you can even paddle your way in between the small islands scattered along the Seto Inland Sea to search for your perfect sunset viewing spot (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi City in Okayama is also known as the Takahashi Castle (高梁城). As it can be easily confused with the Matsuyama Castle in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, it is more commonly referred to as the Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城).