In recent years Okayama prefecture has been gaining popularity as a place where young Japanese move when they want to live in the countryside, which is why the number of chic cafés, seasonal sweets, guesthouses opened in renovated traditional Japanese houses, organic markets, etc. has been increasing.
This time we'd like to introduce some great spots not to be missed. How about heading off for a trip with your female friends on your next long vacation?
1. Parfaits Filled with Seasonal Fruit at Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is famous for its beautiful white plaster walled townscape.
Kurashiki Momoko is located right after crossing Nakabashi Bridge.
It’s a shop where you can enjoy sweets made using an abundance of seasonal fruit at a reasonable cost. In the showcase at the back of the first floor you can find sweets such as tarts, etc. lined up.
Did you know that Okayama prefecture produces a myriad of delicious fruit every season? Peaches, mangoes, Pione grapes, watermelons, cherries, pears, strawberries and so on and so on…
The café's parfaits are filled with seasonal fruit that girls just can't resist. Try many different sweets and share with your friends…
2. Tour the Holy Land of Masking Tape
Whether you want to post notes or decorate your surroundings, masking tape, also sometimes known as mt in Japan, is colorful tape that's easy to tear with your fingers, and comes off nicely afterwards.
To answer the wishes of those of you who want to see how the colorful and trendy masking tape is actually made, once every year a factory tour is held at Kamoi Kakoshi. As a lot of applications arrive from mt fans from all over Japan, reservations are required.
Masking tape is now hugely popular among Japanese women! It can be used in a variety of ways for decorating and at parties, as well as when wrapping presents, and the boom is so big that there are fans so in love with it that they're called "masktape craftswomen" among Japanese housewives.
One manufacturer can be found in Okayama prefecture, as well. A reservations only factory is sure to be fun!!
3. Hiking Trip to Washuzan Hill with Sublime Views of Seto Ohashi Bridge
Washuzan Hill is the perfect spot for close up views of Setouchi Ohashi Bridge. There is a scenic highway that leads to the halfway point of the hill. It is one of the Setouchi area's best-known spots for watching the sunset – you can enjoy some light hiking while enjoying the fabulous views, too.
It takes around 30 minutes to get to the hilltop from the viewing platform, but the trail is not steep. The course has been created to allow glimpses of the islands floating in Seto Inland Sea as you get closer and closer to Setouchi Ohashi Bridge.
Especially from autumn to winter, views of the sun setting between the islands seen beyond Setouchi Ohashi Bridge are wonderful. The area has been selected as one of Japan's 100 best places to see the sunset.
Photography enthusiasts: Remember to bring a super wide-angle lens (around 10mm to 24mm) with you!
Seto Ohashi Bridge is actually comprised of several bridges with a total length of 12.3 km.
About 90% of sightseers leave after visiting the observation deck, but if you continue onto the trail, an impressive view spreads out before your eyes!
4. A Town Full of Jeans: Take a Walk Down Jeans Street
Well known both domestically and overseas for the quality of its merchandise and its highly skilled workforce, Kojima (Kurashiki city), the place where Japanese jeans originated, is called the sacred land of Japanese denim.
Even the flap doors of the automated ticket gates are ‘jeans’!
And if you carry on towards the station exit, the coin lockers on your left are covered in jeans!
Kurashiki city is the place where Japanese jeans were born! Once you exit the ticket gates, you'll be welcomed by plenty of jeans.
How about buying that perfect pair as a souvenir? ♪
5. Immerse Yourself in Taisho Era Romance & Meet Yumeji Takehisa's Beautiful Women
During the period of ‘Taisho Romance’, Yumeji Takehisa was active in a variety of arts, as a painter, designer as well as a poet. Yumeji, who is known for his illustrations of beautiful women with gloomy expressions, was actually born in Okayama.
When talking about Yumeji, the first thing that comes to mind is his illustrations of beautiful women. With their anguished expressions and fragile yet supple forms, the ‘Yumeji-style beauties’ were created with a unique sense of aesthetic.
"Aki no kesho" ('Make-up in autumn'), a bag created in a collaboration between Yumeji Art Museum and Takeyari, a well established sailcloth manufacturer based in Kurashiki, is a limited-edition product made to celebrate the 130-year anniversary of Yumeji's birth. It's a very intricate bag with an appliqué, embroidered Yumeji illustration of a beautiful woman on blue sailcloth.
What also makes Yumeji's works interesting is that they allow a glimpse of the trends and fashions in his time.
Pay attention not only to the women, but also to the beauty of the kimono and the obi (kimono sashes) and you won't miss out on the influence on fashion that Yumeji had on women from the Meiji to the Taisho era.
At the time, the highest praise you could give a woman was to tell her she looked "like a person from a Yumeji illustration".
6. Forget the Flow of Time at The Dream Treehouse!
In the middle of nowhere, deep in the mountains, though only 15 minutes from Ushimado port, there is a café called Akatsuki café & Something, which includes a tree house located in a Japanese bead tree, the symbol tree of Akatsuki.
The concept of Akatsuki is a day trip… At Ushimado's yamasato, you can feel in touch with nature and enjoy the changing of the seasons in a calm, relaxing way completely separated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
When we’re children, we dream of having our very own tree house… That feeling of excitement doesn't disappear after becoming an adult…
Located just a short way from Ushimado, a town bustling with tourists, Akatsuki café stands quietly.
Come and forget the flow of time while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.
7. Enjoy Carefully Made Coffee & Dishes Made from Local Ingredients Together with Cute Nordic Utensils
Coffee shop culture is deeply entrenched in Okayama prefecture. Coffee shops served as places to relax for Seto Ohashi Bridge blue-collar construction workers and Mizushima Island's industrial area, etc. The number of coffee shops (not cafes, but real coffee lounges) found in the prefecture is among the highest in Japan.
Mr. Kinoshita became a coffee shop owner out of an intense love of roasting coffee. His coffee bean preferences are somewhat unusual. The coffee beans used at the store are selected carefully one by one from among ripe coffee beans.
The ingredients used for foods that can be enjoyed along with coffee are mostly sourced within the Setouchi city area. The wheat flour used is made in the neighboring Osafune-cho, and even the ketchup and mayonnaise among other flavorings are homemade.
Enjoy carefully prepared coffee as well as delicious dishes made using plenty of local ingredients.
8. Stay at a 200-Year-Old Traditional Japanese House & Experience Rush Grass Harvesting & Crafts
The biggest feature of "Guest House I….," has to be rush grass.
Here you can experience everything from cultivating to harvesting and even processing rush grass.
As you would expect from a 200-year-old home, its pillars and beams are refined… or should I say, have dignity. Even if you’re not a fan of traditional Japanese houses, this is the kind of place a Japanese person would want to stay in at least once in their lifetime.
This guesthouse is also popular among international guests, and makes a convenient base for travelling the Setouchi region.
It's also conveniently close to Uno, the area we will introduce next.
9. Handicrafts at the Marché by the Sea
A gateway to the islands of Shōdo, Teshima, and Naoshima, the bustling port town of Uno is located in Okayama. Since the summer of 2014, a marché event called “UNOICHI” has been held here.
The very active Okayama craft culture represented by Kurashiki, as well as other high quality handicrafts, are also on offer at the events.
UNOICHI is held at Uno port. By taking advantage of the location, the organizers gather plenty of the good items from the Seto Inland Sea area.
Through the carefully selected products born out of skilled handicrafts, as well as through meeting new people, you'll receive the opportunity to think about your way of life… That's the kind of event it is.
Check here when the next marché is going to be held: http://unoichi-tamano.com/ (Japanese)
10. The Incredibly Fashionable Ladies Room at Aeon Mall Okayama
Lastly today, we’d like to introduce a slightly different kind of spot!
Found at a great location with a 5-minute walk of JR Okayama station, Aeon Mall Okayama had its grand opening in December 2014. Since then, believe it or not, the ladies room has become a hot online topic for its "super feminine ladies room".
Strictly speaking, it is the "haremachi Beaute" powder room on the beauty product related 3rd floor that is garnering all the attention.
If I need to go while travelling, I'd like to do it at a beautiful place…..!
At those times, head to the 3rd floor of Aeon Mall Okayama without hesitation. As it's only a 5-minute walk from Okayama station, it might be the first place you want to stop upon reaching Okayama.
Lovely travels ladies!
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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