If you are seeking a part of Japan that isn’t packed with tourists but is still culturally rich and filled with stunning scenery, Okayama Prefecture, which is just an hour from Kyoto and around 30 minutes from Hiroshima, could just be your ideal destination. In addition to the prefecture’s landmark, Okayama Castle and its garden Kōrakuen, there are several spots you can visit for a taste of traditional Japan. Facing the Seto Inland Sea, there is an abundance of places for you to enjoy beach activities and watersports and adore the magnificent ocean views.
Check out the list below for the best attractions in Okayama to add to your itinerary!
- Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区)
- Mt. Washu (鷲羽山) and Shōshūhō (鐘秀峰)
- Kuroshima Venus Road (黒島ヴィーナスロード)
- Ushimado Olive Garden (牛窓オリーブ園)
- Shinjō Village (新庄村)
- Kanba Falls (神庭の滝)
- Hiruzen Highlands (蒜山高原)
- Rashōmon Gate (羅生門)
- Bitchū Kokubun-Ji Temple (備中国分寺)
- Kibitsu Shrine (吉備津神社)
- Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城)
- Kojima District (児島郡)
- Mt. Ōjigatake (王子が岳)
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter (倉敷美観地区)
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter sits along the Kurashiki River and is known as Japan’s “Little Venice”. Many Japanese movies were shot in this historical area because of its classic Japanese architecture lined on the sides of the canal.
The area has countless trendy cafes, boutique shops, and interesting museums you can easily spend the whole day here!
For more information, please refer to our article Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.
Mt. Washu (鷲羽山) and Shōshūhō (鐘秀峰)
Shōshūhō, the summit of Mt. Washu in the Seto Island Inland Sea National Park, is the best spot for a panoramic view of the 50 islands on the Seto Inland Sea and the Seto Ōhashi Bridge. From the observation decks at Shōshūhō, you will get one of the best sunset scenery in the area!
For more information, please refer to our Shōshūhō article.
Kuroshima Venus Road (黒島ヴィーナスロード)
Speaking of happiness and romance, walking along the Kuroshima Venus Road is a must. The sandy road connecting three islands at low tide has heart-shaped stones that will bless you with a happy life with your partner.
It is also one of the best places in Okayama to enjoy watersports (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
For more information, please refer to our article on Kuroshima Venus Road.
Ushimado Olive Garden (牛窓オリーブ園)
Another attraction in Okayama Prefecture for spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea is the Ushimado Olive Garden. Founded in 1942 to grow food for medications and fuel, the garden now has over 2,000 olive trees. Be sure to visit the Ushimado Olive Shop and ring the Bell of Happiness. Legends say that if you ring the bell three times, you get a blessing of happiness with whomever you are with.
For more information, please refer to our Ushimado Olive Garden article.
Shinjō Village (新庄村)
Shinjō Village in Maniwa District is the best-hidden gem for cherry blossom hunting in Okayama Prefecture. The cherry trees planted on the side of Gaisen Zakura Street have branches joined at the top to create a floral tunnel.
If you visit the village in other seasons, rent a bicycle to Fudō Falls to enjoy the negative ions around the waterfalls in the forest. You can also hike to the nearby peak. During the hike, resting on one of the hammocks set up along the trek is the best thing to do!
For more information, please refer to our Shinjō Village article.
Kanba Falls (神庭の滝)
Another amazing natural attraction is Kanba Falls, a 20-meter-wide waterfall from a 110-meter cliff. Kanba Falls is the biggest waterfall in Western Japan and one of the most spectacular in the country. If you are lucky, you might spot one of the 200 wild monkeys that live near the falls!
For more information, please refer to our article on Kanba Falls.
Hiruzen Highlands (蒜山高原)
Hiruzen Highland is one of the best summer resorts in Western Japan. There is plenty to see and do, including a 29 km bike road. In addition to a range of recreational activities you can enjoy, there are stylish boutique shops to browse. It is also where you find Japan’s largest Jersey Cow Farm.
For more information, please refer to our Hiruzen Highlands article.
Rashōmon Gate (羅生門)
Another stunning natural attraction in Okayama Prefecture is Rashōmon Gate. The gate is formed by a collapsed limestone cave. Walking through the dense forest surrounded by mossy, rocky landscape, you will encounter four natural arch gates as tall as 40 meters!
With cool air blowing out of the stone cracks, the area covered by rare flora and fauna is one of Okayama’s top natural getaway destinations. We guarantee your visit to the Rashōmon Gate will be unforgettable.
For more information, please refer to our Niimi City article.
Bitchū Kokubun-Ji Temple (備中国分寺)
If you want to add some scenic photos with a few traditional Japanese elements to your collection, head to Bitchū Kokubun-Ji Temple in Sōja City.
What attracts many photographers to flock to this part of Okayama Prefecture is a five-story pagoda during times of the year when nature is in bloom.
Also, be sure to stop by at sunset for some breathtaking views and photo opportunities.
For more information, please refer to our Sōja City article.
Kibitsu Shrine (吉備津神社)
If you are interested in Japanese folklore and want to experience unique Shinto rituals, Kibitsu Shrine is a fascinating attraction that awaits your visit. When you visit the shrine, you can participate in several rituals based on a Japanese heroic myth.
Another highlight of Kibitsu Shrine is the 400-meter covered corridor surrounded by cherry blossoms, hydrangea, and peony gardens.
For more information, please refer to our Kibitsu Shrine article.
Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城)
Do you want to see a castle floating in the sky? Bitchū Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi City is known as one of the three Floating Castle in the Sky in Japan. When the mountains are covered in clouds, the castle appears to be floating eerily above the clouds.
In addition, it is the only castle that still has a lord residing in it!
For more information, please refer to our Bitchū Matsuyama Castle article.
Kojima District (児島郡)
Kojima District in Kurashiki City is known for its denim industry. You will be amazed by the number of denim items and decorations on the iconic Kojima Jeans Street. The district is also where the Seto Ōhashi Bridge Sightseeing Cruise departs from and features a couple more interesting museums.
For more information, please refer to our article on Kojima District.
Mt. Ōjigatake (王子が岳)
If you are seeking some thrill, a visit to Okayama Prefecture would not be complete without a stop at Mt. Ōjigatake. Located between the cities of Tamano and Kurashiki, this mountain has various strangely-shaped rocks, including a smiling rock at the summit.
Besides the scenic hiking trails that offer amazing views of the Seto Inland Sea, Mt. Ōjigatake is also known as one of the best places for paragliding in all of Japan.
For more information, please refer to our Mt. Ōjigatake (王子が岳) article.
Okayama’s Best Cherry Blossom Destinations
With gorgeous cherry blossom flowers, spring is one of the best seasons to visit Japan.
But most famous cherry blossom destinations are packed with crowds. So if you don’t want to be pushed around, check out our article on Okayama’s Hidden Cherry Blossom Spots to visit when you come to Japan next time!
The Fall Foilage Destinations in Okayama Prefecture that You Probably Don’t Know
Another perfect season to visit Japan is autumn. The season is longer than cherry blossom, so you are guaranteed some spectacular vivid scenery even if you didn’t spend much time planning.
To find out the awesome places to visit in October and November, please refer to our article on Okayama’s Hidden Fall Foilage Destinations!