Okayama is a major stop on the Shinkansen Tokaido/Sanyo Line, about 4 hours from Tokyo (fare: ¥15,850 for an unreserved seat), 1 hour and 20 minutes from Kyoto (fare: ¥6,820), and 45 minutes from Hiroshima (fare: ¥5,350).
Buses depart nightly from Shinjuku Station's west exit in Tokyo: at 9:30pm (Shimoden Bus Co.; tel. 03/5438-8511) and at 9:45pm (Ryobi Bus Co.; tel. 03/3928-6011), both arriving at Okayama Station the next day at 7:50am and costing ¥9,800 one-way. From Tokyo Station, JR buses (tel. 03/3844-0489) depart from the Yaesu south exit at 8:40pm and arrive in Okayama at 7:18am for ¥10,000.
Flights from Tokyo to Okayama Airport (tel. 086/294-5201; www.okayama-airport.org) take about 1 hour and 15 minutes and cost ¥30,200, though JAL bargain fares, with restrictions, go for as low as ¥11,100. An Airport Limousine Bus shuttles passengers to Okayama Station in about 30 minutes for ¥740.
Before departing Tokyo or Narita or Kansai airports, stop by the Tourist Information Center for the leaflet "Okayama, Kurashiki and Seto Ohashi Bridge," which contains useful information on train transportation to Okayama and important sights in the prefecture (you can also download it from the Japan National Tourist Organization's website at www.jnto.go.jp by looking under "Browse by Destinations"). In Okayama, the Okayama City Tourist Information Office (tel. 086/222-2912; daily 9am-6pm) is inside Okayama Station near the central exit of the east side (look for the sign displaying a question mark). The office is well prepared for foreign visitors, supplying English-language maps and brochures.
Just a 5-minute walk from Okayama Station is the Okayama International Center, 2-2-1 Hokancho, Kita-ku, where at the first-floor Information Counter (tel. 086/256-2914; Mon-Sat 9am-5pm) you can also obtain tourist information, get maps, and access the Internet. To find the center, take the west exit of the station's central gate and turn right (north) onto the main street running in front of the station until you come to a 7-Eleven, where you should turn left; the center is the big building on your right. More information on Okayama is available on the Internet at www.pref.okayama.jp and www.city.okayama.jp.
Internet Access -- You can access the Internet at the Okayama International Center free of charge, but you're limited to 30 minutes of usage and because there are only two computers, you may have to wait. Otherwise, head to Club Mont Blanc on the sixth floor of the OPA building across from Okayama Station's east exit, 6-3 Honmachi (tel. 086/224-7050), open 24 hours and charging ¥290 for 30 minutes.
Okayama's sights are all clustered within walking distance of each other, due east of Okayama Station. You can walk from Okayama Station to Okayama Castle in about 30 minutes via Momotaro Odori. Otherwise, board a streetcar from Okayama Station's east side bound for Higashiyama (platform 1) and disembark about 6 minutes later at the Shiroshita streetcar stop (the third stop; to your right will be the very noticeable Okayama Symphony Hall building). Pay the ¥100 fare when you get off. From here you can continue walking straight ahead (east) 15 minutes to Okayama Castle and then visit nearby Korakuen Garden and Yumeji Art Museum.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.