Okayama prefecture is a region rich in culture, handicrafts and landmarks, although it may be off the beaten track for first-time visitors to Japan. The menacing Okayama Castle, also known as Crow Castle for its unusual black exterior, offers breathtaking views of the beautiful Korakuen Garden across the river. And neighboring Kurashiki attracts visitors to its historical area, where traditional Japanese houses sit along a picturesque tree-lined canal, as well as the Ohara Museum of Art with its widely respected collection of Western art.
The region is home to many unique traditional handicrafts, in addition to being a leading producer of denim fabric. Katsuyama bamboo baskets are made with madake bamboo grown locally, without any processing, to retain a natural green color until it slowly fades over time. Bizen ware, recognized to make beer and sake taste better, also has a distinctive image due to the hiyose clay found locally around Bizen. Since it’s challenging to glaze, this pottery usually has a rustic orange color and natural texture without any artwork designs.