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Your Muslim-Friendly Guide To Okayama: Discover The Countryside Charms Of Japan

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Faruq Senin  •  Aug 28, 2020

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While we still can’t travel to Japan anytime soon, it’s always nice to bookmark the places we want to visit next. If you’re looking to explore beyond the major cities for your future trip to Japan, Okayama prefecture in West Japan is perfect! Famous for its fruits like juicy peaches and grapes, Okayama has plenty of attractions from hot springs to historical towns, farm stays and ski resorts. With a Muslim-friendly campaign called the Peach Mark, its three main tourist areas of Okayama City, Maniwa City and Kibichuo Town are very welcoming to Muslim travellers too. What’s more, Malaysian footballer Hadi Fayyadh has also been appointed as the Okayama Tourism Ambassador. As a member of Fagiano Okayama, one of the teams in the Japan Soccer League, Hadi has also visited some of the attractions that we’ll be featuring. Watch his video of Okayama here! Here’s your Muslim-friendly guide to Okayama 🤗
1. Muslim-friendly hotels and restaurants with Peach Mark
Under the Okayama Health Tourism, hotels and restaurants providing Muslim-friendly services and products are issued stickers called the Peach Mark. It’s used in the all-inclusive tourist locations of Okayama City, Maniwa City and Kibichuo Town. Find out more about the Peach Mark here.Here are some hotelsand restaurants with the Peach Mark:Hotel Granvia Okayama Connected directly to Okayama Station, Hotel Granvia Okayama is in a very central location, and it’s convenient for Muslim travellers. What’s great about Hotel Granvia is that a Qibla compass and prayer mat can be provided on request. Several rooms also have a Qibla sign! There’s a prayer room on the second floor of the hotel that’s available for guests too. Website Hitori Nabe Megu Hitori Nabe Megu is a specialised hot-pot restaurant where you can enjoy Shabu-shabu and Sukiyaki. Their beef is halal-certified and it’s thinly sliced using a halal slicer. Not to mention that they have halal pots and utensils so Muslim travellers can enjoy the authentic taste of Japanese hotpot conveniently. Halal status: Halal-certified meat available. Do note that pork is sold in the establishment but the kitchenware and utensils for halal meat are clearly labelled and halal meat is strictly stored separately from non-halal meat. Do note that alcohol is served to other customers in the restaurant but the eating area is separated. We advise you to dine at your discretion. Price range: JPY1500 (Lunch), JPY2600-4600 (Dinner) Opening hours: 11AM-2PM, 5.30PM-10PM, closed on Tue Address:Tenjin ChoBuilding, 1F, 2-1 Tenjin cho, Kita-ku, Okayama CityContact: +81862895341 Website Okayama Islamic Centre Need to do your prayers? Head over to the Okayama Islamic Centre! The mosque has many Muslims attending Friday prayers and Muslim travellers can join them too. You can also find restaurants offering Muslim-friendly menus around the mosque. Address: 2 Chome-1-7 Tsushimahigashi, Kita-ku, Okayama City #HHWT Tip: Find more information on Muslim-friendly restaurants and amenities on the Okayama Health Tourism’s website!
What to see and do in Okayama
2. Okayama Castle
One of the main landmarks in Okayama City is the Okayama Castle. Built in 1597, it has earned the nickname “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior. At the castle, you can try dressing up in a Kimono and the best part is that the costume experience is free! Do note that there are several timings for the kimono experience per day and the number of participants is limited. Here are the timings: 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm. For more information on admission fees, opening hours and directions to the castle, check out their website. P.S. Check out what else to do in West Japan with our 7D6N Muslim-friendly itinerary!
3. Okayama Korakuen Garden
Okayama Korakuen Garden is one of Japan’s three most celebrated gardens and ithas also been awarded 3 stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan! Here’s where travellers can enjoy seasonal scenery and flowers 😍 The garden is also open at night to the public for a limited time in spring, summer and autumn so you can enjoy the magnificent night view of the park.#HHWT Tip: There’s a tea house at Okayama Korakuen Garden where you can experience having matcha (Japanese green tea) and halal-certified kibidango (Japanese sweet dumpling). For information on admission fees and opening hours, check out their website.
4. Kibitsu Jinja Shrine
Immerse yourself in Japanese culture at Kibitsu Jinja Shrine, one of the most important shrines in the region. The building at the heart of the shrine has been designated as a national treasure. The shrine’s most impressive feature is its large corridor which is 360-metres long. While walking the corridor, you’ll be treated to various seasonal flowers on both sides. One thing you can’t miss here is the 1500 hydrangeas in full bloom every June in the “Ajisai-en Garden” (Hydrangea Garden)! Find out more about the opening hours and address on this website.
5. Farm Stay
Besides the amazing sights in Okayama City, Okayama prefecture also has plenty of things to do in thecountryside. The agricultural area of Kibichuo town is well-known for its farm stays and homestays. Perfect if you want to experience another side of Japan 😊 It takes about one hour to get from Okayama Station to Kibichuo by bus. Under Kibichuo town’s farm-stay programme, you can experience staying with a Japanese family for up to 2 weeks. One such example is this farm stay at Michan House which Hadi Fayyadh experienced. What’s great is that the farm stays have also received a Peach Mark as halal food, kitchenware and utensils are provided. You’ll also get to enjoy the seasonal agriculture as well as try your hand at local cooking. At Michan House, Hadi tried making sushi and kenbiki yaki (local sweet baked cake) 😋 Find out more about the farm stay programme and book your experience on their website!
6. Katsuyama Historical Preservation District
Katsuyama is a historic town in Maniwa district where you can find traditional white-walled storehouses (kura) and merchant houses with stall walls and lattice windows. The unique designs of traditional shop curtains (called noren and signifies the shop’s reputation) in front of more than 100 lined doorways of shops is a picture-perfect sight 😍 Don’t miss out on the Kusakizomeexperience here! It’s a natural method of dyeing where the dye is made from plants and flowers. Find out more information about the Katsuyama districton their website!
7. Hiruzen Highland Resort
The Maniwa district is also home to the Hiruzen Highland Resort where you can enjoy the cool air, flowers and various activities. The Hiruzen area is perfect for cycling and travellers can enjoy views of the scenic nature. You’d also find Jersey cows grazing in the fields as well as fun activities like an ice-cream making experience. The good thing about Hiruzen is that you can enjoy different experiences depending on the season. In winter, the highlands are blanketed by snow and you can have fun skiing as well as other snow activities! Check out the various activities that you can do in Hiruzen on this website!
8. Yubara Hot Spring
Want to experience an outdoor bath amid nature? Head over to Yubara Hot Spring in Maniwa! The highlight here is the Suna-yu (outdoor baths) where you can unwind while admiring the gorgeous scenery. Visitors can rent a swimming suit from the hotel nearby for a fee. If you’re not looking to soak your whole body, then try the ashi-yu (foot bath) instead! Located centrally inthe Yubara Hot Spring area, it is free and is equally relaxing too 😍 Find out more information about Yubara Hot Spring and how to get thereon their website! With the convenience of Muslim-friendly facilities and exciting things to do in Okayama, it’s time to add it to your list for your future trip to Japan! From cultural activities to hot springs and more, another side of Japan awaits 😍 Watch this video to find out more about the attractions in Okayama! P.S. Planning a trip to West Japan in future? Check out our 7D6N Muslim-friendly itinerary! This article is brought to you by Okayama City, Maniwa City, Kibichuo Town and Okayama Health Tourism Project.