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(November/04/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

The Yumeji Art Museum: Experience the Charms of the Taisho Romantic Born in Okayama 130 Years ago!

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.

This time I would like to introduce the art museum located next to Okayama Korakuen garden, which is a place where you can enjoy the works of Yumeji and follow his footprints!

The art museum was built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Yumeji’s birth. The redbrick building topped with a weather vane has a retro exterior reminiscent of the Taisho period.

Including his largest existing work, a folding screen painting with his handwriting, the collection includes around 3000 works such as hanging scrolls, oil paintings, watercolor paintings, sketches, woodblock prints, and bound books and letters written by Yumeji.

Around 4 times a year, special exhibitions of about 100 works are held to introduce the charm of Yumeji’s art.


Photograph panels display images of Yumeji’s son and his most beloved woman, Hikono.

Unfortunately, taking photographs of the works on display is not possible, so this time we will introduce the highlights together with some original goods found at the museum shop.

When talking about Yumeji, the first thing that comes 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. The most popular ones have been turned into colored paper and woodblock prints and are on sale in the museum shop.


These original candies, made in cooperation with the well-established Japanese confectioner Eitaro (main store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo) are sold only in the museum shop.

The packages, decorated with various illustrations of Yumeji’s beautiful women, look like postcards from the front and back. By adding the appropriate stamps, you can send a package by mail as is with the candies inside. They make lovely gifts and souvenirs.

“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.


Many of the illustrations and other works have been made into postcards.

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 that she looked “like a person from a Yumeji illustration”. Many women may have used Yumeji’s illustrations as models and copied the actions and way of dressing to try and become a “Yumeji-style beauty”.

The most popular products in the museum shop are the original rolls of Yumeji Japanese paper masking tape featuring Yumeji’s works. In freeing the imagination, they allow you to make collages and unique accessories.

As he designed various patterns, the multitalented Yumeji used flowers and birds, as well as small animals, etc. as motifs. In modern world terms, he was the pioneer for graphic designers.


Visitors can spend a while quietly immersing themselves in the world of Yumeji at the museoums Café Matsuka. It offers a set that includes Yumeji’s favorite Garibaldi raisin cookies and black tea.

Part of their charm is that you don’t need to pay the museum admission fee to enter the museum shop or café.

At the Yumeji Art Museum Bunkan (Oku-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture), around 30-minutes drive from the Honkan, you can find Yumeji’s thatch roofed birth home where he lived until the age of 16. It is open to the public, and a taxi plan is available from the Honkan. If have time, please go visit Bunkan as well.


Yumeji Art Museum Honkan

Address: 2-1-32 Hama, Naka ward, Okayama city, Okayama prefecture
TEL: 086-271-1000
Open: 9.00-17.00 (Entrance until 16.30)
Closed: Mondays (When Monday is a public holiday, closed the following day), December 28th thru January 1st
Admission: Adults JPY700, Middle, High school and university students JPY400, Elementary school students JPY300
Access: 15-minutes walk towards Korakuen garden main entrance from Okayama Electric Tramway Higashiyama line’s Shiroshita station

Yumeji Art Museum Bunkan

Address: Honjo, Oku-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture
TEL: 0869-22-0622
Open: 9.00-17.00 (Entrance until 16.30)
Closed: Mondays (When Monday is a public holiday, closed the following day), December 28th thru January 1st
Admission: Adults JPY500, Middle, High school & university students JPY250, Elementary school students JPY200
Access: 10 minutes by bus or taxi from JR Ako line’s Oku station

(October/27/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Hinase, the Oyster Heaven In Winter! (Okayama)

The city of Hinase in Bizen, Okayama prefecture is the perfect place to visit for oyster lovers. Here, you not only get to eat oysters (and lots of other seafood) in all different ways, but you also get to take a look at how our edible oysters are produced. Though oyster restaurants and menus are found all over the world, it’s not as common to able to enjoy them right next to the waters where they are produced, and to take a look at the entire process.

Hinase Oyster farm

From the quiet station of Hinase, I took a stroll down through narrow bayside streets, following the signs for Gomi no Ichi (五味の市). Don’t get this word gomi mixed up with garbage! It means “five flavors” or rather, all the different flavors you can enjoy from sweet to salty. This harbor has a large fish market, many food stalls, and even barbecuing pits with all the materials and ingredients ready for you to use.

Marine city , Hinase

Along the 15-20 minute leisure walk to get there, you get a good sense of what this city is like; it’s a quaint fishing town where the citizens are one with the sea. Sidewalks are decorated with tiles of sea creature paintings, fishing boats are anchored right next to homes, and the harbor is covered with empty oyster shells all neatly tied up together. Before even getting to the Gomi no Ichi, you’ll come across many family-owned restaurants advertising the greatest oyster dishes and seafood.

Things you should try in Hinase…oysters and what else?

At the market

I visited on a sunny November afternoon, a bit too early in the season to enjoy slurps of raw or barbequed oysters. Though it was a national holiday, the fish market was much emptier than how it would be on the weekends. Perhaps many of the fishermen decided to take the day off, too. But the market’s parking lot was filled with visitors’ cars from near and far, and the barbeque pits were festive with happy, hungry or full folks grilling fish, vegetables, and meat at their own will. If you’re not in the mood to grill up something of your own, look for signs advertising kakioko (カキオコ), oyster okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) famous to Setouchi. The chefs will cook one right up in front of you, fresh on a hot plate. But there is another dish I would recommend you try, if you’re (supposedly) a brave soul and foodie like me…

Oyster softcream!

Inside the market, I headed straight for the stall with the unique dessert: fried oyster soft serve ice cream (kaki furai soft カキフライソフト). Okay, you have to hear me out before you judge how it tastes by how it sounds (or looks in the photo). First of all, the vanilla ice cream on this ¥300 dessert was probably one of the creamiest, freshest ice creams I’ve ever tasted. It uses Hokkaido dairy that tastes fresh and rich. The two fried oysters are placed one on each side of the cone and drizzled with sweet soy sauce. The sauce tastes like a creamier version of regular soy sauce without the saltiness overpowering the ice cream. I ate the fried oysters by hand while dipping its fried outside in the ice cream. This may not become my choice of dessert every day, but for a lover and the sweet-and-savory mixtures, this was one of the ultimate dishes to try that I won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world.

Lunch plate at Hinase

This was my pre-lunch snack, by the way. As I finished up looking around the market and devouring my ice cream, I headed back down the quiet roads to a seafood restaurant down the road called Iso (磯). Inside of the restaurant looked like a cozy and inviting mom and pop shop. Large families and cute couples filled the place with their laughter and rosey cheeks from alcohol and fresh seafood on the grill. Hinase is not only famous for their oysters, but also for eel. For a mere ¥1500 I got a huge lunch plate with sashimi, shrimp, vegetables, crab miso soup, rice, and a whole deep fried eel. The service was so quick but the food so fresh, I could imagine the chefs walking right across the street themselves to fish up the ingredients. If oysters don’t sound as appealing to you, try an eel dish either in the similar deep fried form, grilled form, or a donburi rice bowl with grilled eel and sweet eel sauce (yum!).

Check out the Oyster Farming from the Bizen Hinase Bridge!

Bizen Hinase bridge

After a full lunch, I switched gears back to my attention on the oyster farming that takes place in Hinase. A stroll back towards the train station brings you by the ferry terminal and a long and new suspension bridge across the Hinase Bay. This is the Bizen Hinase Oohashi indicated on road signs and Google Maps with an actual heart symbol: 備前♡日生大橋. This bridge, technically not open for access on foot, as there are no sidewalks, leads across the bay to Kakui Island. Below the bridge lies a unique and beautiful view of oysters farms, called ikada in Japanese. I braved my chances with my large backpack and camera in hand, to carefully walk across this bridge to take a look. At the midway point of this 765 meter long bridge, there is a little outlet where vehicles can stop to enjoy the same view careful pedestrians could.

Oyster farm

On the walk back on the bridge, I noticed more oyster shell-like figurines under water. As I was looking at these, an elderly man with a face full of his smile greeted me from across the road, then walked over to chat with me. A local taking a careful stroll across the bridge himself, he told me about the process of producing the oysters we see out in the bay. These vertical oysters below at the entrance of the bridge  are in the production stage before they are taken out further in sea to the actual farming grounds. It’ll be another few weeks, even a month or two, before the best season for oysters begin. As the locals and oyster lovers know, the best months for oysters are the coldest months of the year. Come winter, Hinase will be filled with foodies flocking for fresh oysters. Once february arrives, the city will be vibrant with the annual Oyster Festival.


Gomi no Ichi

801-4 Hinase cho, Hinase, Bizen-city, Okayama prefecture 〒701-3204

Open: 9:00-16:00

Phone: 0869-72-2355

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(October/23/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Sapporo Wine Okayama Winery

Akaiwa City

Experience complete satisfaction with free wine tasting

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Sapporo Wine Okayama Winery, Western Japan’s largest winery, is located in the home of Japan’s best grapes and uses Okayama’s high-quality grapes (including Muscat of Alexandria and Pione grapes) for its wine. The winery’s vineyard boasts some 350 grape vines. With no application necessary, visitors can take a factory tour to learn about the wine-making process and enjoy free wine tasting (information available in Japanese only). Premium wine tasting, available for a fee, is also popular.


Basic information

1556, Higashikarube, Akaiwa City, Okayama Prefecture
20 min by taxi from JR Seto Sta.
Business Hours
9:00am – 4:30pm
New Year’s Holiday, etc.

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(October/20/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Joto Historical Preservation District

Tsuyama City

Take a leisurely stroll through a castle town that time forgot

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Having prospered throughout the 17th to 19th centuries as a merchant city, this old townscape features 1.2 km of machiya (traditional townhouses). The district has earned recognition as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. At “Joto Mukashi Machiya,” showing the former residence of a large merchant, visitors can feel the stylistic beauty of another lifetime. The tatami room is open to visitors for a sampling of Japanese culture and the chance to leave a commemorative photo. The town’s cafes also offer a chance to rest while walking through the town.

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Basic information

Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture
20 min on foot from JR Tsuyama Sta., or 10 min by bus to “Tenjinbashi” and then 5 min on foot
Business Hours
Varies by facility.

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(October/16/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Yubara Onsen

Maniwa City

Experience an outdoor bath in the heart of nature

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Yubara Onsen, located in a famous hot-springs area, includes one of Western Japan’s leading rotenburo (outdoor baths), “Sunayu.” Against the backdrop of a dam, Sunayu is 24-hr outdoor hot-spring bath surrounded by rocks located in the riverbed of the Asahi River. Because this bath serves both men and women, it is recommended that women wear a special dress while bathing (rentals available for a fee). With numerous accommodations, restaurants, and souvenir shops nearby, including many ryokan and hotels that offer free lending of iroyukata, colorful yukata popular with women, visitors are encouraged to plan for an overnight stay and enjoy walking through the town.

Basic information

143-2, Yubara Onsen, Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture
2 hrs 35 min by bus from JR Okayama Sta. to “Yubara Onsen” with a bus change at “Katsuyama Bus Center,” and then 5 min on foot
Business Hours
Varies by facility.

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(10/11/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

Kurashiki City

Streets lined with white-walled kominka (traditional houses) awarded 2 stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan

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This townscape, known for the characteristically Japanese white walls of its residences and the willow trees lining the banks of the Kurashiki River, has earned recognition as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Kurashiki prospered in the 1600s as an integral destination for the transportation of goods, and the area continues to offer a historically attractive atmosphere of a calm and harmonious life.
With its many cultural facilities—including the Ohara Museum of Art and its collection of international masterpieces; the red-bricked Kurashiki Ivy Square, a reproduction of the textile factory once representative of Kurashiki, built on the site of the former factory; the Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft, boasting a collection with some 700 handicrafts; and the Kurashiki Archeological Museum—Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter offers visitors a taste of Western influence harmonized with Japanese style.
A large portion of the Honmachi and Higashimachi areas, including the approach coming from the historic Achi-jinja Shrine, offers scenery unspoiled by time and has been specified as a Historical Preservation District. The town is a quiet place lined harmoniously with restaurants, galleries, and general stores.
A particularly popular destination for tourists is the “Traditional Boat Tour of Kurashiki Canal.” This boat tour offers visitors a chance to admire the town’s white walls from a small boat along the Kurashiki River that flows through the center of town. Visitors are also recommended to experience Japanese culture firsthand by donning a kimono or a yukata before strolling through Kurashiki’s historic streets. The Bikan Historical Quarter also offers washoku (Japanese cuisine) restaurants and local confection shops where visitors can enjoy a more literal taste of Japanese tradition.
As night falls and the streets light up, a calmer presence sets in for a somewhat different experience than the daytime. Many of the old machiya (traditional townhouse) have also been rebuilt with modern appeal as lodges and guest houses, giving visitors the option to spend the night in the Bikan Historical Quarter and explore the streets at their own pace.

Basic information

Honmachi, Chuo, Higashimachi, Achi, Tsurugata, etc., , Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture
15 min on foot from JR Kurashiki Sta.
Business Hours
Varies by facility.
Varies by facility.
Varies by facility.

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(09/18/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Bizen Pottery Festival

                              Bizen City

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This event is held where certified Japan Heritage Bizen Pottery is produced. Visitors are offered Bizen pottery created by local artists at a 20% discount, and the chance to try their hand at making pottery using a potter’s wheel.

With a history that stretches back one millennium, Bizen pottery is one of the most famous types of pottery in Japan. Taking advantage of the inherent warmth of the soil, Bizen pottery is free of ornate coloring or painting, and is fired in climbing kilns.
The Bizen pottery festival is held on Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21. Festival goers love the wide variety of Bizen pottery available at bargain prices.

Basic information

The 3rd weekend of the month
Saturday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Imbe (Bizen Pottery Village)

Contact address


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(09/14/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!


                             Setouchi City

Enjoy Japan’s Aegean-like sea and islands

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The seaside resort town of Ushimado overlooks the numerous beautiful islands dotting the Setonaikai (The Inland Sea). Visitors are treated to a magnificent landscape filled with the blue of the sea and the green of olive groves. At low tide, the Kuroshima Venus Road, a sandbar stretching to link three separate islands including Kuroshima Island, rises from the sea. A walk along this mysterious road floating on the sea is a recommended spot for couples. Along with the hotels and yacht harbors in the surrounding area, Ushimado also offers visitors sunset cruises where visitors can watch the sun set and enjoy a romantic evening on the town.

Basic information

Ushimado Town, Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture
35 min by bus from JR Oku Sta. to “Ushimado”
Business Hours
Varies by facility.

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(09/10/2018)Welcome to Okayama Japan, the Land of Sunshine!!

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle

                                          Takahashi City

The “Castle in the Sky” floating on a sea of clouds

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Built in 1240, Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is both an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is counted among Japan’s top 100 castles. The castle is located atop a mountain at an altitude of 430 m, making it the highest fortress with an existing castle tower in Japan. Visitors to the castle are treated to a spectacular sight, especially in the early mornings of fall and winter when the clouds spread out to form a “sea of clouds” around the castle. Also in fall, when the trees change color, the landscape becomes painted in a deep vermilion as if the castle walls were aflame, offering visitors a truly majestic sight.

Basic information

1, Uchisange, Takahashi City, Okayama Prefecture
15 min by tourist share taxi from JR Bitchu-Takahashi Sta. to “Fuigo Toge,” and then 20 min on foot *Reservation required for the share taxi.
Business Hours
9:00am – 5:30pm (April – September) / 9:00am – 4:30pm (October – March)
December 29 – January 3
General 300 yen; students 150 yen (elementary and junior high)

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