Yakage / OkayamaEnjoy the old houses that retain the atmosphere of a lodging district and satoyama landscape with all your senses: Yakage-cho, Okayama Prefecture

Many historic townhouses still remain, including those renovated as cafes and inns.

The town of Yakage in the southwestern part of Okayama Prefecture was developed as an lodging district connecting Osaka and Fukuoka prefectures during the Edo period (1603-1868), and it is still lined with historic buildings. Taking advantage of its mild and dry climate, the town also produces a variety of fruits such as pears and grapes, and vegetables such as asparagus and cabbage. Why not spend a relaxing time in this town where you can feel the richness of nature and history?


Between the lobby and rooms in the main building is a courtyard filled with greenery. The perfect place to take a break and relax.

An accommodation facility renovated from an old private house from the Edo period. It consists of a main building and an annex with hot spring baths. There are a total of 14 guest rooms, all with different layouts and room concepts. Female guests staying in the main building may rent colorful yukata, a type of traditional Japanese kimono. Choose your favorite yukata from a selection of five or six different styles, and head to the hot springs in the annex which has an indoor and outdoor bath. In the hot spring, you can stretch out and relax in the spacious bathtub. For dinner and breakfast, you can enjoy seasonal dishes from Yakage-cho and the Setouchi area.

"Momiji" room with white tile walls and a pretty bedspread of navy blue and brown colors.

"Momiji" room shown in the photo was renovated from a wooden Nagayamon gate, with impressive beams on the ceiling. The toilet and bath are on the first floor, and the bedroom and kitchen are on the second floor. From the window, you can see the Oda River flowing through the center of Yakage-cho.

Seasonal kaiseki course dinner using vegetables from Yakage-cho and seafood from the Seto Inland Sea.

The dishes are full of seasonal local delicacies. An example of a main dinner dish is tender Bisei black pork from the neighboring town of Ibara City, with fragrant sauteed garlic and vegetables from Yakage-cho.

Yakage Machiya Exchange Center

Concerts, rakugo performances, and other events are held on Sundays.

The Yakage Machiya Exchange Center sells local products and souvenirs, and is an impressive building that was originally used as a sake brewery in the 1920s. Although tourist information is mainly provided by the town's tourist information center Yakage Visitor Center "Tonya", pamphlets and maps are also available at Yakage Machiya Koryukan (Exchange Center). Yuzu Beshi (a famous confectionery with rich flavors of yuzu and miso), traditional handcrafts, and goods featuring Yakage's tourism ambassador Yakappi are also available. There is also a café in the building, which is convenient for taking a break.

There is a small garden between the souvenir shop and the cafe.

Using an exploration map created by a local illustrator, the staff can answer any questions you have about Yakage-cho. Yakage-cho is a town dotted with historical buildings alongside fashionable cafes, making it a fun place to visit.

This is the first place you should visit when you visit Yakage-cho. Check out the pamphlets of Yakage-cho right at the entrance.

Vegetables, sweets, and traditional handicrafts are sold here. Among the most popular items are souvenirs depicting Yakage's tourism ambassador, Yakappi. Many of them are suitable for everyday life, such as a teacup (1,200 yen) and a plate (500 yen). People are soothed by the cute and adorable Yakappi.

Daitsuji Temple

The graceful gate made of wood is the landmark of the temple. Enjoy various flowers and plants lining the route to the main hall.

Daitsuji Temple, a Soto sect temple said to have been founded in 743, was moved to its present location around the 1190s to 1200s. The garden on the temple grounds is famous as a scenic beauty designated by Okayama Prefecture. It is said that the garden was created in the late Edo period (around 1830-1843) over the course of 20 years. If you apply in advance, you can experience zazen (Zen meditation) for about 30 minutes to straighten your posture and unify your mind. Admission fees are 400 yen for adults and free for children under junior high school age. Please confirm the fee for the zazen experience in advance.

You will be carefully taught the ways of zazen etiquette, so don't worry even if this is your first time experiencing it!

Zazen is conducted in the monks' hall. Facing a wall, the participants meditate and spend about 30 minutes in silence. By consciously creating a time to not think about anything, you can refresh your mind and body.

The temple shows its different faces in each season, such as the greenery in summer, autumn leaves during fall, and a snowy landscape in winter.

The temple also has a magnificent garden. It is sometimes called "Ishijuen" because of its stone arrangement. The balance of stones placed between waterfalls is exquisite and makes you want to look at the garden indefinitely.

Togenkyo Hanashi-no-sato Ikoi-no-yakata

Enjoy a lunch featuring vegetables and other local products from Yakage-cho at the restaurant.

Visitors can experience seasonal agricultural activities such as picking shiitake mushrooms, making bancha (a type of green tea), and harvesting potatoes. Camping (¥1,000 per night for a spot, ¥4,000 to rent a tent, etc.) and barbecues (¥2,000 for a stove, ¥2,500 for food) are also popular. LP record concerts are held using tube amplifiers and large speakers, so visitors can enjoy music in nature without worrying about the volume.

The ingredients change monthly. Pictured is a tomato cheese pizza with local summer vegetables from nearby Hanashi.

Agriculture is a major industry in Yakage, and one of the things you should try is making a pizza with local ingredients. The pizza-making experience starts with kneading and rolling out the dough. Once the dough is ready, top it with local vegetables such as onions, green peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, and cheese. Then the pizza is baked in an oven set up outside.

Pizza making experience is 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. The event is held once a month and reservations are required.

The pizza with toppings is baked in the oven. It is baked while slowly turning it on the griddle with tongs. After about 3 minutes, it is taken out of the oven and placed on a paulownia wood board. The dough, made from rice flour produced in Hanashi, has a sticky texture and tastes exceptionally good when freshly baked.

Yakage Senior Citizens Welfare Center (Kagura Mask Painting Experience)

"Bicchu Kagura" is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property

Bicchu Kagura is a traditional performing art of Okayama Prefecture and is known as the guardian deity of the community. It is said to have started about 200 years ago and is an essential part of the autumn festival. At the Yakage-cho Senior Citizens Welfare Center, visitors can try painting the masks used in the Kagura performance. The masks are made by residents from recycled newspaper as part of Yakage's recycling project. There are 10 different designs to choose from, including Ebisu and Daikoku masks from Japanese mythology and fairy tales, as well as Momotaro and Oni(demon) masks.

Brushes and paints are provided for the kagura mask painting experience, so you don't need to bring anything!

You will paint while referring to a sample mask. Start with the parts where black paint is used, such as eyebrows, eyelashes, and eyes. The instructor will give you advice on how to proceed, for example "For the eyes and beard, it is best to hold the brush upright and draw thin strokes with the tip of the brush".

On this occasion, participants enjoyed painting Momotaro and Oni masks (1,000 yen each). Completion in about one hour.

Here are the finished masks. Time passed quickly because the experience was so engaging. After taking the masks home, you can attach them to the decorative stand (included in the fee) with wooden glue.

Access information

Directions to Yakage-cho, Okayama Prefecture:

Approximately 40 minutes from JR Kurashiki Station by car or 30 minutes by train.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stays“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stays Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


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