Guideto JapanCulture History
Okayama Prefecture is in the Chūgoku region in western Japan. It borders the Seto Inland Sea to the south and has numerous offshore islands. The inland is mostly mountainous, dominated by the Chūgoku range along the northern border with Tottori Prefecture, with large tracts of forested land.
Okayama Prefecture at a Glance
- Established in 1871 (formerly Mimasaka, Bizen, and Bitchū provinces)
- Capital: Okayama
- Population: 1,888,000 (as of Oct. 2020)
- Area: 7,115 km2
Okayama is home to Kōrakuen, considered among Japan’s three most famous gardens, and Bitchū Matsuyama Castle, finished in 1683 and one of only a handful of fortresses retaining its original keep. Kurashiki in the south boasts a well-preserved historic district with elegant buildings and tree-lined canals. Large swaths of the prefecture fall within the borders of the sprawling Daisen-Oki and Setonaikai National Parks in the north and south, respectively.
Okayama is home to one of Japan’s best-known folktales, the story of Momotarō, about a boy born from a peach who along with his animal companions defeats a group of menacing ogres.
The prefecture has a robust agriculture sector, with farmers producing staple goods like rice and vegetables along with high-end items such as peaches, grapes, and wagyū-branded beef. Manufacturing is concentrated on the coast in cities like Okayama and Kurashiki, which have a number of large companies in core industries like petroleum, steel, and automobile production. The city of Kojima supports a thriving denim industry. Bizen ware pottery, lacquerware, and weaving remain important traditional industries in many areas.
- Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934): Painter and illustrator who was a leading member of the “Taishō Romanticism” art movement. Known particularly for his bijinga, depictions of beautiful women.
- Ōshima Nagisa (1932–2013): Film director and screenwriter known internationally for works like In the Realm of the Senses and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
- Arimori Yūko (1966–): Marathoner and two-time Olympic medalist.
(Originally published in English. Banner photo: Kōrakuen in the capital of Okayama. © Pixta.)
For the complete list of the country’s 47 prefectures, see “The Prefectures of Japan.”