Next Stop, Japan

Next Stop, Japan

Okayama Prefecture

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Okayama Prefecture (岡山県) is the central hub of movement and thus culture between the four regions that surround it. The Sanyo Highway along the coast, for hundreds of years, has crossed the prefecture to the west to Hiroshima Prefecture and to Hyogo Prefecture in the east. To the north is Tottori Prefecture and the Sanin Coast. More recently, the Seto-Ohashi Bridge connects mainland rail and road with Shikoku across the Seto Inland Sea.

At the center of this transportation hub is Okayama City which is the prefecture's largest city and capital. More than half of the people who live Okayama Prefecture reside in the capital or in neighboring Kurashiki City.

The prefecture has branded itself as "The Land of Sunshine" since 1989 as in most years it ranks near the top among Japan's prefectures for the least rain, fewest rainy days and most sunshine. As well, the prefecture prides itself as being one of the most livable with above national average access to facilities like hospitals and below average occurrence of earthquakes.

Peaches are Okayama Prefecture's most famous product and it is the largest producer (56.1%) of peaches in Japan. The Legend of Peach Boy (Momotarou) was born in Okayama Prefecture. The land seems particularly suited for fruit production and the prefecture also produces more muscat grapes (92.8%) and pione grapes (38.9%) than any other prefecture.

Website: Okayama Prefecture (Japanese) Okayama Prefecture (English)

Okayama Prefecture's Cities

1. Okayama City

Okayama City (岡山市) is the largest city in Okayama Prefecture with 715,365 people (2014) and its capital. The city has a respectable rebuilt castle but is most famous for the Korakuen Garden which is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan.

2. Kurashiki City

Kurashiki City (倉敷市) is a few minutes west of Okayama City by train and is the second largest city in Okayama Prefecture. Kurashiki City is a popular tourist destination with its historic canal district and the Ohara Museum of Art (Japan's first western-style art museum).

Peach Boy - Momotarou

Momotarou or Peach Boy is a fairy-tale about a boy born from a giant peach that was discovered floating down a river by an old childless couple. Momotarou was raised by them and years later went on a quest to defeat a demon after hearing about its terrible deeds. Thanks to his mother's farewell gift, Kibidango (millet dumplings), Momotarou is able to recruit a talking dog, monkey and pheasant to fight with him. Upon reaching the demon's island, Momotarou and his servants defeat the demon and return its hoarded treasures to their rightful owners. Momotarou and his guardians live happily ever after on the leftover loot.

While unlikely based too much on truth, it is one the most famous fairy-tales in Japan. The actual source of the legend is largely unknown but the most likely source of Momotarou's duel with the demon is a conflict fought by a prince in the Yamoto period (Year 300-550). The exact story of Momotarou was not fully agreed upon until what is considered the definitive version was included in a book of Japanese folklore published in 1894.

In Japan, peaches are drawn (and sold) upside down as this is how they are presented as religious offerings in China.

Professional Sports Teams

Okayama has no major professional sports teams.

Official Symbols of Okayama

The prefectural flower was picked in 1950 as the peach blossom as peaches are the local specialty. The prefectural tree and bird were chosen by referendum in 1966 and 1994, respectively.

FlowerPeach blossom (Prunus persica var. vulgaris)
TreePine Tree (Pinus densiflora)
BirdLesser Cuckoo/Pheasant (Cuculus poliocephalus)

Getting There

The capital of Okayama Prefecture is a major transportation hub for western Japan. Major expressways and local JR rail lines extend from the city to: Tottori Prefecture in the north, Fukuyama City and Hiroshima City in the west, the island of Shikoku in the south and Osaka City in the east. The famous Seto-Ohashi Bridge to Shikoku (the longest combined road and rail bridge in the world) was completed in 1988.

The Sanyo Shinkansen line passes through the prefecture and has stops at Kurashiki City and Okayama City. Nozomi and Hikari Shinkansen classes stop only at Okayama City.

Okayama Airport is located to the north of Okayama City. The airport has daily flights to most major Japanese Cities. A small number of international flights leave and arrive each week.

Posted: April 5, 2011 Updated: February 28, 2015

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