Okayama is the second largest city in the Chugoku region of Japan and a major transport hub for travellers enroute to the island of Shikoku from Japan’s main island of Honshu. On this page you will find the following information:
Visitors to Okayama can enjoy a attractions including Korakuen Garden, considered one of the most beautiful in Japan, and Okayama Castle – both within 25 minutes walk of the station. However for most international visitors, Okayama serves as a point of transit as they head to Shikoku. For more information about what’s on offer there and why you should visit, see ’30 Things to Do Around Shikoku & Where to Stay’ below.
It is important to note that this page is intended for international visitors who will primarily be interested in using the shinkansen and limited express services onto Shikoku and does not include complete information about all services and facilities at the station.
TRAIN LINES / SERVICES TO OKAYAMA STATION
Okayama Station is serviced by multiple lines of which the San’yo Shinkansen line and several limited express services running to Shikoku will be of most interest to international visitors:
Running from Shin-Osaka Station to Hakata Station (Fukuoka), the San’yo Shinkansen offers the most convenient route to Okayama and other destinations in western Japan. Multiple services run along the line, of which the ‘Nozomi’ and ‘Mizuho’ are the fastest. For holders of the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, it’s also important to note that those two services are not covered by the pass however any of the other services running on the line – including the ‘Sakura’, ‘Hikari’ and ‘Kodama’ – can be used. Stops on the line include:
Shin-Osaka / Shin-Kobe / Nishi-Akashi / Himeji / Aioi / Okayama / Shin-Kurashiki / Fukuyama / Shin-Onomichi / Mihara / Higashi-Hiroshima / Hiroshima / Shin-Iwakuni / Tokyuama / Shin-Yamaguchi / Asa / Shin-Shimonoseki / Kokura / Hakata (Fukuoka).
Regular services run to and from Okayama Station every day. The earliest shinkansen services from Okayama bound for Shin-Osaka – a journey of around 30 minutes – depart just after 06:00 with the latest just before 23:00. Services bound for Hakata also start just after 06:30 and run until just after 22:00. Services from Shin-Osaka bound for Okayama start from around 06:00 and run until around 23:00, while direct services from Hakata to Okayama operate from around 06:15 until just after 21:00. Shinkansen services operate from Platforms 21 to 24 at Okayama Station.
OTHER TRAIN LINES
Multiple local lines operate to and from the station providing access to destinations including:
Seto-Ohashi Line / Uno Line bound for Chayamachi, Kojima, Shikoku and Uno. The limited express ‘Marine Liner’ and ‘Sunrise Seto’ sleeper both use this line, connecting Japan’s main island of Honshu to Shikoku via the Great Seto Bridge – see ‘Getting from Okayama to Shikoku’ below for further details.
Sanyo Main Line bound for Kurashiki, Fukuyama and Hiroshima along with Wake, Himeji and Tottori.
Hakubi Line bound for Kurashiki, Bitchu-Takahashi, Niimi and Yonago.
Ako Line bound for Saidiji and Banshu-Ako.
Tsuyama Line bound for Fukuwatari and Tsuyama.
Kibi Line / Momotaro Line bound for Bitchu-Takamatsu and Soja.
As noted above, of these services most international visitors will be interested in those running along the Seto-Hashi Line / Uno Line to Shikoku:
GETTING TO SHIKOKU FROM OKAYAMA
Okayama Station acts as the primary transport hub for travellers heading onto the island of Shikoku. For international visitors, especially those holding a Japan Rail (JR) Pass it will make most sense to use the San’yo Shinkansen to reach Okayama and then transfer to the limited express ‘Marine Liner’. However you also have the option of using a sleeper train in the ‘Sunrise Seto’ which runs to Shikoku from Tokyo via Okayama (noting that the JR Pass only covers the base fare and you will need to pay a large surcharge to use this service):
LIMITED EXPRESS ‘MARINE LINER’
Running from Okayama Station to Takamatsu Station, the limited express ‘Marine Liner’ is the main train service by which travellers move between Japan’s main island of Honshu and the smaller Shikoku – taking between 55 to 65 minutes / JPY1550 one-way. Services begin around 05:30 and run until around 23:45 however it’s important to note that some early and late services to do not go all the way from Okayama to Takamatsu. The service includes non-reserved, reserved and Green Car carriages and is covered by the JR Pass.
LIMITED EXPRESS ‘SETO SUNRISE’
The ‘Sunrise Seto’ is an overnight / sleeper train running from Tokyo to Takamatsu on Shikoku via major stations including Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Sannomiya (Kobe) and Okayama. Some services also continue past Takamatsu and run all the way to Kotohira Station in Shikoku. For travellers heading to Shikoku from Okayama, the short distance and convenience of the Marine Liner means that is the best service to use however if you’re headed there from further afield, the Sunrise Seto can be a novel option as sleeper trains in Japan are quite rare. The 14 car train, once daily service takes around 9.5 hours to cover the entire journey; departing Tokyo at 22:00 and arriving at Takamatsu at 07:27 – stopping at Okayama at 06:27. The return service departs Takamatsu at 21:26 and arrives at Tokyo at 07:08. The base fare for the service is covered by the JR Pass however you will need to pay a supplemental surcharge of between JPY9500 to JPY17,000 depending on your choice of sleeper carriage.
For more information including how to get to Shikoku from locations including Osaka, Kyoto, Toyko and beyond, see our ‘Getting To & Around Shikoku’ page.
RAIL PASSES COVERING TRAVEL TO OKAYAMA & SHIKOKU
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen and other rapid services is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travelers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for limited use of the San’yo Shinkansen along with unlimited use of numerous other services including the ‘Marine Liner’, starting with the:
JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars. The JR Pass allows for use of the ‘Sakura’, ‘Hikari’ and ‘Kodama’ services on the San’yo Shinkansen line however it does not allow use of the ‘Nozomi’ and ‘Miuzuho’ services. These services can be used but you would need to pay the full-fare. It covers the ‘Marine Liner’ but only covers the base fare of the ‘Sunrise Seto’, meaning that holder of the pass still need to pay a sizeable surcharge for that service.
PURCHASING & ACTIVATING A JR PASS
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated sales office. Once you completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue). It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Before using a pass, it must first be exchanged/activated. Exchanging/activating the pass can be done at numerous offices located at airports – including Kansai International Airport in Osaka and Narita Airport and Haneda Airport in Tokyo – and major train stations throughout Japan. If you have the time, we recommend activating your pass while at the airport. If you’re planning to do so at Okayama Station, you can exchange/activate your pass at the:
— JR Ticket Office: open daily from 08:00 to 20:00
— Nippon Travel Agency TiS Okayama: open daily from 10:30 to 18:30 (Mon. to Sat.) & 10:00 to 18:00 (Sun. & pubic holidays)
Otherwise, passes can also be activated at these stations on the San’yo Shinkansen line: Shin-Osaka Station / Hiroshima Station / Kokura Station / Hakata Station. To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date). Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
OKAYAMA CITY TOURIST INFORMATION
Open daily from 09:00 to 20:00, the ‘Okayama City Momotaro Tourist Information Center’ is located on the first-floor of the station, next to the East Exit, and has English, Chinese and Korean-speaking staff on-hand to assist with any transport, sightseeing and accommodation enquiries. Other languages such as Chinese and Korean may be available however this cannot be guaranteed. Free WiFi is available inside.
30 THINGS TO DO AROUND SHIKOKU & WHERE TO STAY
The smallest of Japan’s four main islands, Shikoku is – for international visitors – also the least visited region of the country. Those who do make the journey discover an island blessed with outstanding natural landscapes including the islands and coastline of the Seto Inland Sea, surfing, great fishing and seafood, secluded river valleys, lost villages, and of course the ‘Shikoku Henro’ – an 88 temple pilgrimage trail that draws visitors from all over the world. For more information about just what’s on offer, see our ’30 Things to Do Around Shikoku & Where to Stay’ page.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
Okayama Station and the San’yo Shinkansen are just two parts of Japan’s fantastic rail network. Unfathomable in its size and efficiency, moving around the country by train is easy and comfortable opening-up all regions of Japan for exploration. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.