Okayama: Eat, Sleep, Getting There

If travelling through Japan’s central western Honshu Island, stop at laid-back Okayama to experience gorgeous sights, while savouring delectable food, followed by a peaceful night’s sleep.

Why visit Okayama?

If you missed last week’s post detailing the Best of Okayama, then click the link to get a feel for Okayama and the city’s impressive sights.

Where is Okayama?

Located in the heart of western Japan, Okayama became a castle town during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and a significant regional power.

Many travellers pass through Okayama as the city is an important transportation hub offering trains and buses to anywhere in Japan. But do yourself a favour and don’t pass up staying in lovely Okayama city.

Where to eat

You definitely won’t go hungry in Okayama as the city offers a ton of cafes, bars, and restaurants to suit any budget.

shokuhin sampuru, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Shokuhin sampuru – the art of model food started in Japan between 1917 and 1932

Okayama is renowned for its delicious fruit and also as the “City of Fruit Parfaits“.

Sublime realistic shokuhin sampuru (model food) parfaits confront you almost everywhere you turn, and it’s hard to pass by these artistic creations.

parfait, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Parfait heaven

The Cafe Parfait Kyoto, which has been operating since 1972 proved disappointing.

After waiting in the queue for over 20 minutes, realised too late that to enter, you need to note your name and the number of people for a table in the book at the entrance. Noticed this after seeing customers jotting down their numbers.

parfait, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Famous parfait

Even though the waitress saw us in the queue (the only foreigners around), she would not allow us to keep our spot. Instead, insisted that we go to the end of the queue. Gave up on parfaits and went to the Little Mermaid for pastries and coffee. Weeks later, we savoured a parfait in Hokkaido Island’s city of Sapporo.

Little Mermaid

Detrimentally, we first discovered the Little Mermaid chain here in Okayama.

What started as a controlled couple of pastries with a good coffee in one sitting, grew to uncontrollable numerous pastries and a good coffee in one sitting.

The sweet and savoury pastries are wonderful and not expensive at all. This became the go-to haunt wherever we bumped into the Little Mermaid. The staff are friendly and the service is always excellent. Credit cards are accepted.

Okayama Train Station

Home to several parfait places, the Okayama train station offers an amazing food hall with cheaper meals than what you find along the city’s streets.

Check the daily specials, especially at lunchtime as this is the best time to eat in Japan. You pay less for the same meal during lunchtime than in the evening. Use your phone to take a picture and translate the menu.

Food Hall, JR Train Station, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Food glorious food!

Kitchen Runway

Enjoy an amazing dinner (¥800+) at the Kitchen Runway in Okayama train station.

Try the addictive and scrumptious Gyozas. We ate at the Kitchen Runway a couple of times and the food is consistently delicious, with consistently excellent service. The same dish at dinner is more expensive than at lunchtime.

shokuhin sampuru, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Realistic Shokuhin Sampuru

Tully’s Coffee

Stop for a coffee (¥340+) at the Tully’s Coffee chain in the Ario Centre near the Okayama train station. Like the Okayama train station, the Ario Centre has loads of shops and eateries. Delectable food is everywhere in Japan.

Saint Marc Cafe

For a great mid-afternoon coffee, delicious savoury, and sweet pastries at reasonable prices, in comfortable surroundings, head to the Saint Marc Cafe in the Kita Ward’s Omotecho Shopping Street.

Where to stay

Okayama offers a plethora of accommodation types from hostels, Cube Hotels, self-contained apartments, and different starred hotels.

To save a little cash as long-term travellers, a self-contained apartment is the preferred choice, but not always possible.

Booking accommodation on the fly and without any real travel plan in March this year, accommodation was booking up faster than you could search. The Japanese government gave locals discounts on accommodation to draw people back to the travel industry following COVID-19.

The OneFive Okayama

So with a satiated belly after visiting a bunch of wonderful restaurants or cafes, it’s time to venture back to the hotel.

The OneFive Okayama Hotel’s foyer provides a help-yourself selection of toiletry sachets, disposable slippers, free good machine coffee and water, and much more at the hotel’s reception.

This more than makes up for the tiny room with a small plastic private bathroom that reminded me of the bathroom in Reg, our motorhome.

All you need is a comfy bed in a quiet room and a private bathroom when travelling, so all is not lost.

Air-conditioned room, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, and a kettle – what more do you need?

The OneFive Okayama Hotel is in a great location in Okayama as it is close to the JR Train Station, the Asahi River, and important sights. The staff are great, very polite, and accommodating.

Getting there from Hiroshima

Walk to Hiroshima train station then across to the trams for street car number 2 or 6, which go to the JR Bus Station stop Kamiya-cho-nishi (second M9 stop). The journey takes around 15 minutes and an ICOCA card is accepted.

From the tram, it is only a couple of minutes walk to the SOGO building. In the SOGO building, take the escalator to floor 3 for the JR Bus Station and platforms.

SOGO building, Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Exploring the SOGO Building

The Ryobi bus leaves from Platform 1. While you wait, stop at The Little Mermaid Bakery for pastries and good coffee (¥180+).

The food court on this floor is also very good. Food stalls sell a selection of appetising snacks, meals, and traditional sweets.

The comfortable bus travels through many tunnels as you journey around expansive hills and mountains, before descending to towns at the base of gullies.

map of #hiroshima to #Okayama, #Honshu Island, #Japan, #Asia

Although houses are different, the landscape reminds me of Calabria. The pleasant bus trip with the polite white-gloved bus driver costs ¥3000 and takes 2.5 hours. You stop for 5 minutes at the 7-Eleven Services but also at designated stops.

scenery Hiroshima to Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan, Asia
Along the way…

Announcements on the bus are only in Japanese while you are dropped off at the busy Okayama train station. From the station, it is a walk of 1.7 km until you arrive at The OneFive Okayama Hotel.

Coming next: Monochrome Monday, Entertainer

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.

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46 responses to “Okayama: Eat, Sleep, Getting There”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    I’d heard of model food before. Sorry about the “go back at the end”. Their loss. Isn’t it difficult to travel in a country where you can’t even read anything?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      The Japanese have got model food down to a fine art as it really does look too realistic and makes you salivate. My phone pics don’t do this art justice. Yep, their loss.
      It is but these days, Google translate is a Godsend.

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Your pics are all right. Don’t worry. Have you tried ChatGPT for translation?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No, I don’t have time to introduce another platform into my life right now, ha, ha… 😉

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Ha! Ha! I understand. I’m still fighting the updated OS version on my Mac. I’m almost ready to go back to Windows! e.g. my Emoji button has disappeared… Grrrr.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Wow, that’s saying something coming from Mr Mac! It does get frustrating though. My latest issue is that I can’t comment on several sites that I usually comment on – it just started today.
        I was on WP chat support just now and the happiness engineer reckons it’s not my site’s problem but all the other sites I’m trying to comment on. Really! SOmeimtes, I just need a drink to cope with all this cr*p!

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Have two drinks. One for me please…

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I certainly will!
        A G&T with a squeeze of lime and topped with a slice of lime sounds good right now. 😉

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Perfect. 🥂

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, didn’t have one last night but indulging tonight! Tomorrow is cheese and wine night – our Friday ritual. 😉

      9. equinoxio21 Avatar

        A good ritual. Salute.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, it’s a great way to end the @working@ week…chin chin. 😉

      11. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Chin chin. Lost my emojis again… 😢

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thanks! I see your emoji – switching to Windows yet? 😉

        Food is good and relatively cheap. Local wine is cheap but not great, imported wine is pricey. Vodka is cheap but again, imported Vodka is not so cheap. We still manage our cheese and wine nights to end the working week.
        Clothing is pricey. Anything imported needs to come across the border so understandably, is pricey. Public transport on the trams and trolley buses around the city is cheap.

        While volunteering in the kitchen, discovered a second-hand clothing store along the 2-plus-kilometre walk to the kitchen. It looks like donated clothing is being sold – not sure if some of the proceeds go to soldiers as need to translate the shop’s sign. Still, I saw this in Asia and don’t agree with donated clothing being sold – it’s not the intent.

        Whew, a little side-step there, ha, ha.

  2. indianeskitchen Avatar

    What a fantastic post! The food pictures make me want to move there. Thank you for sharing them.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the great feedback.
      Japan is a country of amazing blissful food – a foodie’s heaven!

  3. Her Oasis Avatar

    This was beautiful to read! My mind travelled to Japan for abit.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your great feedback and hope that visit wonderful Japan in the future (if you haven’t already).
      I still have many posts to publish from the 7 weeks in Japan earlier this year.

  4. mygenxerlife Avatar

    You had me at “City of Fruit Parfaits…”

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, it’s so true though!
      Who would have married Japan with Parfaits? Gyozas and Ramen yes, but parfaits…

      1. mygenxerlife Avatar

        I know, right? Japan can be quirky like that. Who would have married capybaras with a cafe?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Quirky is a great word for Japan but in a nice way. 😉

      3. mygenxerlife Avatar

        Haha… yeah. I lived there for a year after college, so I got a good dose of it!

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent! Did you get to travel through Japan a lot during that year?
        Oh and forgot to respond to your question about capybaras with a cafe. I’ve only seen capybaras in South America and there’s lots of coffee there, so forgive me for not seeing the connection. 😉

      5. mygenxerlife Avatar

        I enjoyed exploring the Tokyo area for most of my time there. I’ve since visited a number of times to explore other areas of Japan. I love it there. What part of Japan is your favorite?

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Tokyo is mad! 🙂
        I love Hokkaido as it’s less busy, has stunning scenery, wonderful food, and of course, lovely locals; and hope to return on the way back home to Australia in 2025.
        Only saw Honshu and Hokkaido in the 7 weeks but this time wasn’t enough for both islands.

      7. mygenxerlife Avatar

        I haven’t been to the ice festival in Sapporo yet. That definitely is on my list.

        Back home? Are you currently living abroad?

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I didn’t know that Sapporo had an ice festival. That would be really cool (no pun intended) to go to…
        Taking 2 years oout to travel so back home in 2025 and currently in Lviv volunteering.

      9. mygenxerlife Avatar

        Two years…what an adventure.

        Volunteering is so noble. Please take care and be safe.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s a short stint as the last one (left Oz in 2014) lasted 6 years. 😉
        Not really, just want to help and there’s a lot of volunteer work here as you can imagine. Will do thanks.

      11. mygenxerlife Avatar

        Professional earth traveler. I like the sound of that.

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Me too! 😉

  5. Monkey's Tale Avatar

    Who knew that the Japanese were so into parfaits?! They are little works of art, too badbyou couldn’t tell how good they are 😊 Maggie

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I never knew until landing in Okayama and they were everywhere. The ones we tried a couple of times later on were divine so all was not lost!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you!
      Have you travelled to Japan?

      1. issabrainmonkeybrain Avatar

        no but would love to one day, you photos make my desire stronger to go

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I hope you get there in the future as Japan is an amazing country to explore and locals are lovely.
        Thank you for your kind feedback.

  6. Christy S. Avatar

    Bookmarking this as I really want to visit Japan in 2024!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Christy
      Japan is amazing and after spending 7 weeks travelling through Honshu ad Hokkaido Islands, I still have many posts to publish so stay tuned.
      What month are you planning on travelling to Japan in 2024?

  7.  Avatar

    Reading your posts about Japan is fascinating. The country seems so organised, so clean as well as interesting historically and fun. Does it feel as surreal as it appears? It looks as if there is no such thing as a slum or poor people or political divisiveness, but I’m sure no country can be quite that perfect.
    about 25 years ago I transited through Narita and I must say that of all the places I have been, it was where I really felt like a stranger. It wasn’t a negative experience, just different.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Japan is very organised, clean, and beautiful. The country is unbelievably clean with an army of street sweepers everywhere we travelled.
      Yes, sometimes it does feel surreal as there’s such a contrast between modernity and all the highly technical animation, which spills onto the streets as unusual fashion, and the intrinsic traditional ethos of Japan. I only saw one or two homeless people during the 7 weeks of travelling by bus and regional trains through the Honshu and Hokkaido Islands.
      Have you travelled to other parts of Asia?

  8. Chronosfer2.wordpress.com Avatar

    I think I would go from coffee to coffee all day. Well, excluding the exaggeration, Okayama seems like a very special place to me. very happy with the post. hug, Nilla.✨

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It was hard not to go from coffee and pastry to coffee and pastry but needed to explore the city, otherwise too much time would be wasted.
      I’m happy that you enjoyed this post. Appreciate your support! 🙂

      1. Chronosfer2.wordpress.com Avatar

        I really like and “travel” with you in your posts, Nilla. and from coffee to coffee I offer you a Brazilian treat. 🌷☕️☕️🌷

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you and appreciate your feedback.
        I’m sure a Brazilian coffee would be delicious…one day I’ll take you up on that offer.

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