Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Okayama day trip

I want to make the most of my free time in Japan, and seeing more of this magnificent country is one my my goals. Okayama is technically the closest biggest city to me (along with Osaka and Kyoto). I live on Shikoku island, which is pretty much the most rural area of Japan, even though we have larger cities such as Takamatsu. Still, I need my city fix once in a while, and Okayama is the quickest way to settle that.

Okayama is located on Japan's mainland, but it's a short train away that requires crossing the Seto-Ohashi bridge, an engineer's dream that offers the most stunning view of the inland sea. The train ride alone is worth the whole journey. Since most of my friends have busier working schedules than I do (I'm seriously spoiled), I decided to take that little day trip on my own. As much as I love traveling with friends and sharing my discoveries (it's something I've been missing quite a bit in Japan), sightseeing on my own is also quite pleasant. I can go wherever I feel like going, stop for hours into small shops, sit down for tea, and just be in my own world.

Today was so much fun, I saw some pretty exquisite sights and sampled tasty treats. Here's a day in Okayama:

Catching the morning train. Good thing I can read the kanji characters for a few cities, it's been very helpful...

A 45-min train ride to finally arrive in Okayama, which is a major stop on the Shinkansen route.

A lunch set before starting the sightseeing. Rice topped with fresh, warm ginger, and a side of tofu and miso soup. Delectable.

Walking in Okayama, towards the garden.

Korakuen garden, which is classified as one of Japan's most beautiful gardens. I think it would be more beautiful in the spring, but it's not so bad for January.

I spent hours wandering around, daydreaming and crossing all the little ponds. 

Taking a little break on the rocks to just take in the sights.

I had some savory little rice cakes with green tea in a little wooden tea house overlooking the pond.

The striking black Okayama castle is pretty famous in Japan. Stunning.

I could not resists buying more little rice cakes to take home as a souvenir (perhaps to share with my friends if I don't eat the whole box tonight)

After the sightseeing, I did some shopping... obviously. Okayama has some fun, trendy stores such as Loft- which is the most amazing shop in the world. It sells everything you could ever dream of, from stationary to beauty products and apparel. I spent a few hours just browsing around. Last but not least, I visited the import food store! Surprisingly, I don't miss anything from home just yet, so I casually walked past the taco spice mix and chick peas (I'll probably run to them in a few months....). I did pick up some peanut butter, though! It's the only thing I've had a bit of trouble finding around my town.

Then it was time to hop on the train back home, cross the bridge back to my dear little Shikoku island, which I love more and more every day.


Kelly said...

what a great trip & day to yourself. i need days like those too every once in awhile. i love all your pictures! and those ponds look so peaceful and quaint!


Renee Summers said...

Hi Vivian:

First, I'd just like to say that I've been following your blog for a little while now and had quite an entertaining afternoon catching up on everything from the beginning. I envy your consistency! (I myself have a blog and have the darndest time writing more than once every 2 weeks).

I also moved from the Western world (NYC) to teach in South Korea, where I am now. I'm trying to save up for grad school and have reached the conclusion that I will need to stay international for one more year-- though I'd like it not to be in Korea. Because of salary, I'd imagine I'll be sticking to Asia and have always had a fondness for Japan (I'm also a Lost In Translation fan). If you don't mind-- could you give me some advice in regards to choosing Japan after Korea? Your new job sounds fascinating-- could you tell me a little bit more about what you're doing exactly? And if it's comparable to your Seoul teaching job in terms of salary?

I'm at rsummers22@gmail.com if you get the chance to write back. I'll also understand if you're not comfortable sharing every answer with me-- but if you are, thank you in advance!

~ renee

maeghan said...

I just arrived in Taiwan last night and already I've had my mind return a couple of times to previous posts of yours or simply the thought of you in your own respective Asian country, living it up. Love it! Hope I get to visit Japan soon! Just wanted to let you know that you'd come to mind! It's definitely a good thing! :)

Daniela said...

Korakuen garden is so beautiful!

Nicole Marie said...

again so jealous!!
traveling is so fun with friends but there's something amazing about traveling by yourself.

Anonymous said...


nifer said...

All of a sudden, I really want to go out for a lunch of sushi rolls and miso soup....

melanie lace said...

wonderful pictures.

seasonal lust said...


her french is awful, as it should be, but it was such a touching short. and i thought i'd share it with you because you'd appreciate it. =)

so tell me, when did you fall in love with japan and it fell in love with you?

R@!$4 said...

just goojyasu! hahahaha oh wait, since ive forgotten where i've been, okayama does rings a bell. if u would take a peek at my blog day 4 tags: holiday, that samurai gardens japan one, is it the same gardens?