Plans for the 5 nights in the Okayama base camp include 2 half day trips from either Okayama or Hiroshima. Here’s a task for the faithful readers (all 4 of you). Which trips would you choose? Which ones do you think I’d choose? It may seem that some of these can’t be done in half a day. For the longer travel times I’d use the train to rest from the morning while eating a box lunch. Dinner will be at or near the destination so I’ll get back to Okayama well after dark. Maybe nap on the train?
A. Saijo – The Sake Town. Eight small venerated sake breweries cluster in a rabbit-warren-type neighborhood of narrow streets and old buildings near a train station. The oldest one was founded in 1675. Some date to the 19th century, the newest are from the first 2 decades of the 20th century. Like Coors, sake is all about the water. At a brewery one tastes both sake and the water.
On many lists of Hiroshima day trips. Thirty minutes by train.
B. Miyajima Island. Consensus on forums and guidebooks is if you visit Hiroshima, Miyajima is a must see and vice versa. The temples are spectacular. The island is mostly steep, wooded hills, considered exceptionally beautiful.
Japan has official lists of the 3 best [fill in the blanks], e.g., garden, pagoda, sacred grounds, original castles, etc. The first lists were compiled in the 17th century, other lists have been updated since. Miyajima has one of the 3 best views.
It also has tourists. Typical advice is to avoid weekends. Tourist infrastructure lacks nothing.
From Hiroshima, 1 hour by train / ferry combo. No links. Google Miyajima and you’ll find oodles.
C. Shiraishi Island. Small island on the Inland Sea. Little to do but plenty of peace and quiet in which to do it. Has a 2 month tourist season so the tourist infrastructure will be shut down. The beaches and hiking trails should be deserted. About 700 year-round residents. Most of the men are fishermen, most of the women tend vegetable gardens. Seven km of road but few cars. Many of the ‘roads’ are just wide enough for 2 pedestrians to pass. On the linked page, see left side menu bar for ‘Shiraishi Island Facts’.
From either Hiroshima or Okayama about 90 minutes by bullet train / train / ferry combo if one can align the schedules of bullet train, local train and ferry.
D. Tomonoura. A small town with a natural harbor on the Inland Sea, population 6000. Many old structures are still in use. They weren’t preserved – they endured. A tiny wooded island is a brief ferry ride away. A writeup and a map.
From either Hiroshima or Okayama about 90 minutes by train / bus combo.
E. Wandering around a rural town and it’s agricultural outskirts with camera. Twenty minutes south of Okayama the coastal plain turns agricultural. This is traversed by a local train which averages 21.5 MPH between Okayama and Uno. Some train stations are 3 or 4 minutes apart by train, which means 1-2 km by foot according to Google maps.