One Day in Okayama: A Fantastic Okayama Itinerary to Follow

by Jackie
Okayama Castle, the black colored castle, is the top attraction to visit when you're in Okayama, Japan for the day.

Out of the places that we’ve traveled to in Japan, Okayama (岡山市) is one of the quieter and less touristy cities. It’s quite refreshing to visit an off the beaten area that doesn’t have as many crowds, yet still has its charm. As the capital city of the Okayama Prefecture, Okayama is known for its Okayama Castle, Korakuen Garden, and is also a famous area for jeans. 

While you can visit Okayama as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, we recommend that you stay for a full day or more than two days. We stayed in Okayama for one day and used it as a stopover to visit Naoshima Island the day after before heading to Hiroshima.

In this post, we’re sharing what to do in Okayama in one day, how to get there, what to eat, and other helpful travel tips. 

Continue reading this Okayama itinerary to plan your trip!

Staying in Japan for a longer time? Check out our other Japan posts to help with your travel planning.

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Best Things to Do in Okayama in One Day

Here are the top attractions in Okayama to visit on your Okayama day trip itinerary.

Wander through Okayama Castle.

Okayama Castle (岡山城) is one of Okayama’s main sightseeing attractions. This castle is unique as it has a black exterior, thus, the nickname of Ujo (“Crow Castle”). It’s also called Kin-ujo (“Gold Crow Castle”) as the roof has gold trims and gold shachi (a mythological creature with a tiger’s head and a fish’s body). 

The castle was built in 1597 and was a decent size with the main castle tower and 25 turrets (smaller castle towers). Currently, the castle area is smaller than before as the government owned the castle in 1869 and couldn’t maintain the entire property so they demolished many buildings. 

Okayama Castle isn’t crowded so you’ll have plenty of space to explore the 6 floors. Similarly to Himeji Castle, the inside of the castle is empty. The best part about the castle is seeing the views from the windows. Head to the 5th and 6th level where you can see the shachi on the roof with the bridge and a part of the Okayama Korakuen Garden. 

This photo is taken from the top level of the Okayama Castle where you see the gold shachi, lake, and a view of the Okayama Korakuen Garden.

Check out the gold shachi on the rooftops of the Okayama Castle.

The lower level is fun to explore since it has artifacts of the samurai armor. Plus, there are interactive activities that you can do such as trying on a kimono for free. It’s available every hour but for the first five people. If you love 3D interactive art, there is a section where you can wear traditional clothing and hold weapons. You’re re-enacting a battle scene and fighting against soldiers at the castle.

Jackie Szeto from Life Of Doing interacts with 3D artwork inside Okayama Castle.

Have fun with the 3D artwork when you’re in Okayama Castle.

Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Marunouchi, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0823, Japan (〒700-0823 岡山県岡山市北区丸の内2丁目3−1)

Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm

Admission Cost: 

  • General admission: 320 yen ($3.00 USD) adults, 130 yen ($1.20) children (6-14 years old)
  • General admission & Okayama Korakuen Garden: 580 yen ($5.50) adults, 260 yen ($2.50) children (6-14 years old)
  • General admission, Okayama Korakuen Garden, and Yumeji Art Museum: 1,220 yen ($11.50) adults
South view of the Okayama Castle with the river and walkway.

Okayama Castle is lovely to view from the south side and is a must-visit attraction in Okayama.

Explore the Okayama Korakuen Garden. 

Okayama Korakuen Garden (岡山後楽園) is one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan (the other two are Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Kairakuen in Mito) and is a fabulous spot to visit after exploring the Okayama Castle. It’s easy to get to since it’s only a few minutes walk from the south side of Okayama Castle. 

The garden was built in 1700 and designed for guests to have a new perspective no matter where they’re located in the area. It was used as a location to entertain important guests of the feudal lord. Local people could also visit the garden on certain days. 

What we enjoyed about this garden is how well-maintained everything was. It’s easy to follow the pathway to see the different areas of the garden such as the tea plantation or the cherry blossom area. The Kayo-no-ike Pond near the south entrance is beautiful with the temple and rest house in the background. The main pond in the center of the garden also has huge koi. We also recommend that you take a short walk up the Yuishinzan Hill to see an aerial view of the garden. 

Depending on when you visit the garden, the area will be bursting with seasonal colors. In the photos, the garden is luscious green. However, when we went in the January time frame, the garden was yellow as early February had a grass burning event. It was a bit of a disappointment yet the other parts of the garden were nice to view. We suggest that you visit this place during the spring or fall season. The garden also has seasonal events that are listed in the visitor guide. 

Address: 1-5 Korakuen, Kita Ward, Okayama, 703-8257, Japan (〒703-8257 岡山県岡山市北区後楽園1−5)

Opening Hours: 7:30am-6:00pm March-September, 8:00am-5:00pm October-April

Admission Cost: 

  • General admission: 410 yen ($3.70 USD) adults, 140 yen ($1.30) seniors 65+, free for children
  • General admission & Okayama Prefectural Museum: 520 yen ($4.70) adults
  • General admission & Okayama Castle: 580 yen ($5.50) adults, 260 yen ($2.50) children (6-14 years old)
  • General admission, Okayama Castle, Hayashibara Museum of Art: 980 yen ($8.80) adults
Okayama Korakuen Garden is one of the best things to do in Okayama, Japan. It has a Japanese garden, ponds, and manicured plants.

Okayama Korakuen Garden is a peaceful place to visit during your one day in Okayama.

Visit Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter.

If you have extra time in the afternoon of your Okayama day trip, head to Kurashiki (倉敷市) for a few hours. Although, Kurashiki deserves a full day since there are a lot of attractions to visit. 

Most visitors spend time in the Bikan Historical Quarter. It’s a former warehouse area with traditional facades. You’ll love the quaint area with the gorgeous canal setting, museums, and shops. When the weather is nice, you can take a boat ride along the canal. Popular museums include the Ohara Museum of Art, Museum of Folk Craft, and Folk Toys Museum

Kurashiki is the perfect day trip to take from Okayama, Japan. The canal in the Bikan Historical Quarter is lovely to take a stroll.

Head to Kurashiki’s Bikan Historical Quarter to see the gorgeous canal area during your day in Okayama.

Love jeans? Stop by Denim Shopping Street which is along the Bikan historical street. It’s an alleyway that has 3-4 shops selling high-end jeans, such as the famous Momotaro Jeans. Most Japanese jeans are made in Okayama and the shops take pride in their denim quality and design. You can get any denim products from jeans, jackets, hats, and even pencil pouches. The shops can customize your order with design and hemming. Denim Shopping Street is also fun to walk through as there is a shop selling blue-colored foods such as ice cream and drinks and has instagrammable photo spots. 

Jackie Szeto from Life Of Doing poses with the Kurashiki Denim Street artwork in Kurashiki, Japan.

Find your next pair of jeans at Denim Shopping Street in Kurashiki.

How to Get There: Take the local train from Okayama Station (岡山駅) to Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅) via the JR San-yo Line or Hakubi Line. Walk 10 minutes to the Kurashiki Bikan historical area. 


Other Places to Visit in Okayama

If you have 2+ days in Okayama, here are some other sightseeing activities in Okayama. 

Yumeji Art Museum (夢二郷土美術館 本館)

This art museum featured Yumeji Takehisa and his paintings and hand-drawn artwork including the famous Tatsuta Hime. There are also special exhibits four times a year so you can see something new at every visit.

Address: 2 Chome-1-32 Hama, Naka Ward, Okayama, 703-8256, Japan (〒703-8256 岡山県岡山市中区浜2丁目1−32)

Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm (Closed on Mondays)

Admission Cost: 

  • General admission: 800 yen ($7.20 USD) adults, 400 yen ($3.60) students, 300 yen ($2.70) elementary students
  • General admission and Okayama Korakuen Garden: 1,050 yen ($9.50) adults 
  • General admission, Okayama Korakuen Garden, and Okayama Castle: 1,220 yen ($11.50) adults

Hayashibara Museum of Art (林原美術館)

This art museum is adjacent to Okayama Castle. It has artwork from Japan and other parts of Asia. The artwork rotates every few months so it’s a good place to see various collections from weapons, calligraphy, paintings, and more. 

Address: 2 Chome-7-15 Marunouchi, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0823, Japan (〒700-0823 岡山県岡山市北区丸の内2丁目7−15)

Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm

Admission Cost: 500 yen ($4.50) adults, 300 yen ($2.70) high school students, free elementary-junior high students

Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art (岡山県立美術館)

Okayama has another art museum that highlights Japanese paintings, Western art, sculptures, and crafts. The artwork rotates every three months. 

Address: 8-48 Tenjincho, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0814, Japan (〒700-0814 岡山県岡山市北区天神町8−48)

Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm

Admission Cost: 350 yen ($3.15) adults, 250 yen ($2.30) university student, 170 yen ($1.50) seniors (65+ years), free for children and elementary to high school students

Take a day trip to Naoshima Island. 

If you love modern art and want to see the famous yellow and red pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, then Naoshima Island is a fantastic day trip from Okayama for you. The island has a variety of museums such as Benesse Art Sites, and public art to keep you occupied for the day.

Read more about our Naoshima Island day trip here.

The Red Pumpkin with black dots is a famous sculpture by Yayoi Kusama and located in Naoshima, Japan. The pumpkin has holes where you can go inside to pop your head out.

The Red Pumpkin is a must-see attraction during your Naoshima day trip.


How to Get to Okayama

It’s easy to get to Okayama if you come from Kyoto or Osaka. We’ll share both versions below. We were based in Kyoto before heading to Okayama. 

If you have the Japan Rail (JR) pass, you can take the shinkansen bullet train (except the Nozomi or Mizuho lines) to expedite your travel time. Show your JR pass at the ticket agent and find the bullet train that goes to Okayama. You can either take the non-reserved seating or go to the reservation desk and ask for a reserved seat. You’ll save money on your travels if you plan to go to many places on your Japan itinerary. 

Click here to buy your JR pass and save money!

From Kyoto to Okayama

From the Kyoto Station (京都駅), take the shinkansen to Okayama Station (岡山駅). It’ll take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there.

From Osaka to Okayama

If you’re based in Osaka, you’ll need to take the train from Osaka Station (大阪駅) to Shin-Osaka Station (新大阪駅). Then, transfer to the shinkansen to Okayama Station (岡山駅). The ride will take 1 hour.

Tip: Use Google Maps to find out the schedule for the shinkansen and plan your travels accordingly. 


How to Travel Around Okayama

Okayama isn’t a large city so we ended up walking around everywhere. From the Okayama Station to the Okayama Castle, it’s a 20-minute walk (1.8 kilometers/1.1 miles). 

You can also take the streetcars to which travels between the Okayama Station, Higashiyama Station (東山駅), and Seikibashi Station (清輝橋駅). The streetcars will stop close by the Okayama Castle. The cost starts at 100 yen ($.91). 


What to Eat in Okayama

Okayama is known for its specialty of fresh seafood, which includes mackerel from the Setouchi area, octopus from the Shimotsui area, and oysters from the Hinase area. They are known for their seasonal fruits such as white peaches and muscat grapes.

As with restaurants, we tried a few places to eat in Okayama. Here are our reviews of what we ate:

Kitchen Horiguchi

Kitchen Horiguchi (キッチンほりぐち) is a fabulous spot for lunch and nearby the Okayama Castle. It’s a cozy restaurant that has delicious food such as chicken karaage, chicken cutlet, and hamburg with lotus. The meal comes with a giant cabbage salad, miso soup, pickles, and seaweed. Unfortunately, there aren’t any vegetarian options here. You won’t leave this place hungry as the portions are huge. If you have room for sweets, definitely try the hot yuzu and honey tea and coffee panna cotta dessert. The coffee didn’t overpower the smooth texture of the panna cotta. 

Menu is in Japanese but you can use Google Translate to translate the menu. The chef speaks English and will explain everything thoroughly. You can tell that the chef has a lot of passion for cooking and showcases his hospitality for all guests. 

Tip: Arrive early as there is a line. While you wait in line, the restaurant offers complimentary hot tea to drink.

More information about the restaurant can be found here.

Address: Japan, 〒700-0824 Okayama, Kita Ward, Uchisange, 2 Chome−5−2 Fマンション 1F (〒700-0824 岡山県岡山市北区内山下2丁目5−2 Fマンション 1F)

Opening Hours: 11:00am-3:00pm (Closed on Sunday)

Average Cost Per Dish: 950-1100 yen ($8.60-$10). Cash only. 

Lunch is served at Kitchen Horiguchi which includes fried chicken pieces, miso soup, seaweed, and rice. This is a fabulous place to eat in Okayama, Japan.

The chicken karaage is a popular dish at Kitchen Horiguchi.

Shodoshima Hishio Ramen Okayama Ekimae

If you’re around Okayama Station and want to try ramen, check out Shodoshima Hishio (小豆島ラーメンHISHIO 岡山駅前店). This ramen shop is known for using soy sauce from the Shima area and also local anchovies. 

The popular dish is the Hishio Soba as it comes with soba, roasted pork, green onions, bean sprouts, and the special soy sauce. The flavor is heavier due to the soy sauce but still good. We also tried the Shima soba with the sea bream base which had a fishier flavor. Since we enjoy the fish stock, it was delicious! If you’re vegetarian, there is a vegetable soba option as it comes with eggs and vegetables; however, you’ll need to check if the soup base is vegetarian. All soba orders have free kaedama (refills) which is perfect for the noodle lovers.

Address: 2-23 Honmachi, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0901, Japan (〒700-0901 岡山県岡山市北区本町2−23)

Opening Hours: 11:00am-12:00am

Average Cost Per Dish: 800-1,600 yen ($7.30-$14.50). Cash only. 

Shima soba with the sea bream soup, napa cabbage, soft boiled egg, and roast pork at Shodoshima Hishio Ramen Okayama Ekimae in Okayama, Japan.

Shodoshima Hishio Ramen Okayama Ekimae is a great place to eat in Okayama to get your soba/ramen fix!


Where to Stay in Okayama

Depending on your Okayama itinerary, you’ll either continue to your next destination at the end of the day or spend the night in Okayama. You can choose to stay at a hotel close to Okayama Station or go to a guesthouse. 

Check out reviews and make a reservation in Okayama here.

We stayed in Bonds Stay which is an apartment in a residential area. If you’re traveling with a friend or significant other and want some privacy, then consider this place. It’s a 15-minute walk from Okayama Station. The apartment is enough space for two people to spend the night. The best part about this place was that there was a washing machine. Since we traveled to Kyoto and Himeji previously, it was nice to have some fresh laundry. Plus, it was easy to communicate with the owners about check-in and payment. The cost is $50 per night.

Make a reservation for Bonds Stay here.

Here are other options that you can consider based on the reviews:

  • Comfort Hotel Okayama – This is a mid-range hotel option for those who want to be nearby the Okayama Castle area. Guests receive complimentary breakfast. Cost is between $55-$70 per room per night.

Make a reservation for Comfort Hotel Okayama here

  • ANA Crowne Plaza Okayama – This place is conveniently located next to the Okayama Station as it’s only one minute away. Guests receive special amenities such as free happy hour and complimentary breakfast. Cost is between $80-$186 per room per night. 

Make a reservation for ANA Crowne Plaza here.


Final Thoughts

If you have the chance to stop by Okayama, go for it! While Okayama is not on a typical itinerary for Japan, the city does have some charm with fewer tourists and sightseeing activities. We would recommend that you stop by Okayama for one day. 

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Okayama Castle is a fabulous attraction in Okayama, Japan. It's a must-visit during your one day in Okayama.

Featured photo & pin #1 photo credit: sepavone via Depositphotos.com

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2 comments

Zack Litchfield May 21, 2020 - 8:44 am

Okayama Castle is amazingly beautiful. Seems to be a common aspect of the architecture of the castles across Japan. Makes me really want to plan a trip to Japan that just hops from castle to castle!

Reply
Jackie May 21, 2020 - 12:22 pm

Hi Zack. Castle hopping would be a fun bucket list experience in Japan. There are over 100+ castles to visit – many are restored or just ancient ruins now.

Reply

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