3 Days 2 Nights Okayama Itinerary
Okayama is in the Chugoku region of Japan and it is founded on June 1, 1889. It is located in between Hiroshima and Osaka and it is a transit hub for many bullet train in the West region of Kansai Japan. The city is famous of the Japanese fable Momotaro and the white peach, the best peach in Japan. I was traveling to Okayama Japan with Mynn Lee of SheWalksTheWorld.com.
Day 1: Going to Okayama City
The nearest airport to Okayama City is Kansai International Airport (KIX). There are three airlines that flew directly to Kansai International Airport (from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and they are AirAsiaX, Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. Japan Airlines is code sharing with Malaysia Airlines and they have flights that reach KIX at 5.40 am while AirAsiaX reaches Osaka at 9.20 am.
For this trip to Okayama, we took AirAsiaX and reached at Kansai International Airport (on the dot of 9.20 am and it took us around 40 mins to get our luggage and clear the custom and immigration.
To go to Okayama City, you need to take the shinkansen or the bullet train. The cheapest way to do it is to get the 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area Pass for 9,000 Yen (RM 323) when you booked with Klook.com (pick up at Kansai International Airport). The 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area can be used from the airport to Okayama and other cities such as Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji and more. You get to save on the train fare and you can use it other areas for five days too. Booked it with Klook.com and you can get the pass in the airport and after you review, you will get extra credits for the next booking on Klook.com. You can also purchase the pass at JTB Malaysia offices in Kuala Lumpur.
You will take the train from Kansai International Airport to Shin Osaka and then change to Shinkansen to Okayama JR Station. Always remember to have Google Map installed on your phone when traveling in Japan and it will be your life saver. It will tell you which train to take and which platform to go but we usually will double check with the train conductor.
You might want to rent a Japan 4G Pocket WIFI when you travel to Japan.
It will take 45 minutes of shinkansen ride from Shin Osaka to Okayama Train Station. You will pass by Kobe and Himeji.
Where to stay in Okayama City?
We reached Okayama City around lunch time and we stayed at Hotel Granvia Okayama which is located next to the train station. You can watch the room tour video of Hotel Granvia Okayama.
Since it is very near the train station so it is very convenient to travel around the city and also out of Okayama. Remember, you can use the 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area Pass in the city too. You can get the best rates of Hotel Granvia Okayama at https://www.agoda.com/hotel-granvia-okayama/hotel/okayama-jp.html?cid=1538606
Day 1 Lunch: Sun Restaurant Okayama JR Station for Ebi Meshi
There are few local food you must taste in Okayama and one of them is Ebi Meshi. It is a popular local food so it is available in many restaurants in Okayama. We had our Ebi Meshi at Sun Restaurant in Okayama JR Station.
Ebi Meshi is a rice dish. The rice is cooked in demi-glaced sauce with shrimp and it gives the rice a dark brown colour. We tasted a few versions of Ebi Meshi including omurice (wrapped in egg omelette).
The taste is quite unique as the taste of the rice is subtle with hints of the demi-glaced sauce. This is something different than the usual Japanese cuisine.
Day 1 Afternoon:
What is the best thing to do after lunch? A walk of course and since you are in Japan, expect to walk a lot. In the city, Kōraku-en Garden is one of the must visit places in Okayama. Kōraku-en Garden is rated as one of the top three best landscaped gardens in Japan.
Japanese landscaped gardens are very beautiful and unique. You can see the details and also Japanese influence in the design.
Kōraku-en Garden is constructed in late 17th century and it is still well maintained up to today. What we love about Japanese gardens is the colours of the landscape is different in four seasons. As we went there during late Autumn, the leaves are hue of red and orange and words can’t describe the beauty of it.
During spring or the Sakura season, the cherry blossom will change the landscape of Kōraku-en Garden. Sometimes our friends asked us why do we visit the same place in Japan twice and this is the reason. Every season offers a different view.
What you get in Kōraku-en Garden is crystal clear streams and Japanese traditional houses. You get to see many locals and tourists enjoying the colours and winds in this garden.
We also experienced the Japanese traditional tea ceremony process including tasting the warm Japanese green tea (ocha) in the cold winter.
Kōraku-en Garden is located next to Okayama Castle so you hit two birds with one stone. Okayama Castle is called the ‘Black Crow’ due to its dark exterior. The 16th century castle was built by warlords and destroyed during the WWII and later it was rebuilt again in 1966.
We have been to a couple of castles in Japan and we realised that each and every one of them carries its significant identity. There are activities within the castle and it is also good to check out the history and interior of the museum.
There are two activities you can do in Okayama Castle (with extra fees). The bell making and Kimono-Wearing Experience.
We did the bell-making workshop as how we make a small bell with Bizenware, a type of pottery from the Bizen province in the Okayama prefecture. You can bring the DIY bell back as a souvenir from Okayama.
For kimono-wearing experience, it is always fun to wear local traditional costumers and taking a picture. I was wearing the old warlord costume while Mynn was wearing a lady boss costume.
We also bumped to Tan Sri Azman Hashim (of Ambank Group) and his family here.
Okayama AEON Mall
The Okayama AEON Mall is located 5 minutes of walking off the Okayama JR Station and Hotel Granvia Okayama. This is one of the main reasons why we stayed in that area.
This is huge AEON Mall with supermarket, restaurants, shops and SEGA City (because Mynn loves to play the claw machines). We bought the famous Okayama white peaches from the supermarket here and you can also walk around during night time for food as there are many restaurants here.
Day 1 Dinner: Brasserie Chaleureux
What to eat in AEON Mall Okayama? How about another popular local food, Fruits Parfait. Okamaya is famous for its local produce such as fruits. During summer, many locals and tourists will come here for fruits picking. Okayama fruits are one of the best in Japan and it is pricey.
The Fruits Parfait is another way to enjoy the flavours of the fruits of the local produce. What we enjoy about their version of fruit parfait is you get the taste of the natural sweetness and goodness of the fruits and it is not sweet at all. We missed this for sure and that concludes for Day One.
Day 2: Okayama and Cultural Activities
We spent half day exploring Okayama city on Day One and for Day Two, we are going to explore more and going to do more cultural activities and DIY (do-it your own) activities.
Saijo Inari Temple
If you browse through some of the places to visit in Okayama, Saijo Inari Temple is one of them. This is one of the three most important Inari shrines in the country.
You can easily spot the enormous 27 meters tall red ‘Torii’ Gate on the way to the shrine. The ‘Torii’ Gate is the Red Gate that you often spotted in some places in Japan.
This shrine is founded 1,200 years ago and we were lucky to meet Monk Oseto to learn more about the history and teachings of Sajio Inari.
We went through this special ritual called Ryo-Mairi that allows you to ‘reset’ your luck by dumping all your negative ‘elements’ and to receive the positive blessings.
We were lucky to get access to the secret garden within the temple too. It is only opened for special occasions to selected people.
Day Two Lunch: Kidoairaku Sushi Restaurant
This is a special arrangement by the Tourism Okayama. We had a sushi learning and making DIY workshop by Sushi Master Chef Yasuo Namba. He is the owner and also runs the famous Kidoairaku Sushi Restaurant in Okayama that has been in operation for more than 40 years.
Making sushi is easier than we thought. It only takes a few steps to make a nigiri sushi. We also learnt a lot on basic principles in making and eating sushi.
Chef Yasuo Namba also prepared some tempura dishes including tempura fugu (puffer fish) for us. This is something unique for us.
If you want to know more about sushi learning and making DIY workshop by Sushi Master Chef Yasuo Namba, please email to [email protected]
Fake Food Making DIY Workshop at La Luce Dolce
After we had the sushi making DIY workshop, we went for another DIY workshop. This is the fake food making DIY workshop at La Luce Dolce in Hokan-cho Shotengai (a popular shopping arcade in Okayama City). You probably seen the fake food in Japanese restaurants and this is the place we are going to make one. We were guided by Ms Reiko Kojoh.
I was making fake sushi. I got to make my fake prawn and salmon fish using the mould and paint it with acrylic. The end product is sushi fridge magnets.
There is also a popular ramen shop located in this area. The name of the restaurant is called Yamato. We came back here on the next day for the ramen.
Next on our travel list in Okayama is Kurashiki. The best way to go there is by JR Train and remember to use the 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area. Kurashiki is a historical city located on the western part of Okayama prefecture/
Kurashiki Bikan’s Historical Quarter
This is one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Kurashiki Bikan’s Historical Quarter offers the glimpse of the local architecture and life of Japanese Edo period. The Kurashiki Bikan’s Historical Quarter comes with willow tree-lined canal and 17th century white and grey-tiled traditional storehouses.
The Rurouni Kenshin movie is filmed here too and you can find many locals and tourists snapping pictures here. You can spend hours snapping pictures and videos.
Shiba Inu café is the latest trend in Japan. There is only a handful of shiba inu dog cafés in Japan right now. Lucky for us, we found one shiba inu dog café in Kurashiki Bikan’s Historical Quarter. The name is called Mamesiba Café and they opened not long ago.
It is filled with locals and the queue is very long. The entrance fees is 780 Yen / US$7 with a limited session and for dog lovers, this is a must visit place in Kurashiki Bikan’s Historical Quarter. Read more at https://www.placesandfoods.com/2017/12/namesiba-shiba-inu-cafe-kurashiki-okayama.html
Kurashiki Premium Outlets
For shopping lovers, this is a great reason to come to Okayama. There is the Mitsui Outlet Park (similar to Mitsui Outlet Park in KLIA) in Kurashiki. The best part is it is just next to Kurashiki JR Station.
After you go shopping here in Mitsui Outlet Park, just hop on the train and go back to Okayama City and put all your shopping bags in your luggage.
Check with retail outlets for the tax exemption forms and details.
Day Two Dinner: Chiya-gyu Shabu Shabu at Megu in Okayama City
The following two restaurants we are going to recommend is Pork FREE restaurants (Muslim friendly certified) and they are part of the Okayama Health Tourism Project.
Megu is located in Okayama City and you can go to the restaurant via the city tram. Each ride for the city tram is 100 Yen one way.
We all know about Kobe Beef and in Okayama they have their own premium beef too. It is called Chiya-gyu and it is not cheap. We ordered our Chiya-gyu shabu-shabu set meat at 6,500 Yen (U$60).
You can see the marbling of the beef from the pictures and we can assure you, the taste is of Chiya-gyu is up there on par with Kobe beef.
I had two sets of Chiya-gyu beef. If you talk about quality and premium beef, this is the place you come and visit. The broth of the shabu-shabu is tasty and the service is good. This is one of the restaurants that we will talk about it from time to time. This is worth the 6,500 Yen.
Day Two Supper: Dessert at Café Moni
Last night in Okayama city and we visited another Muslim friendly restaurant. The restaurant is called Café Moni and this is near the Okayama JR Train Station.
This café is very popular among the locals and they are popular with their chiffon cakes. We had three different types of chiffon cakes and they are chocolate banana, cream cheese and raisins.
We had cheese cake and latte too. That was the end of day two in Okayama City.
Day Three: Leaving Okayama
We did a last stop on our last day in Okayama City. After we checked out, we left the luggage in concierge in the hotel and we went for the popular ramen.
Day Three Lunch: Ramen at Yamato
Yamato is a popular ramen shop located near Omote-cho shopping arcade in Okayama city. It is near the place we did our fake food.
When we reached the restaurant, there is already a long queue in front of the shop. After 15 minutes of waiting, we got our seats on the bar.
The restaurant is popular for Chuuka Soba, a unique combination of Chinese style noodles in Japanese soba broth. The taste of their homemade broth is slightly thick in our opinion. The ramen is quite al-dente and overall it is good. Something different than the usual Japanese ramen.
There are a few things that you can do after leaving Okayama. You can use the remaining two days of 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area to places like Himeji, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai International Airport and more. It all depends what you plan to do and you might switch to Kansai Thru Pass once you travel to Osaka.
One thing for sure, you will remember the experiences you had and the food you tasted in Okayama. If you never been to Okayama, we hope this itinerary will help you plan your trip there.
Thank you for reading this and we really hope you bookmarked this and make Okayama as one of the must visit places near Osaka.