Bikes are a great way to get around. Many stations, including Okayama Station, have day rentals available. A new low-end bicycle costs around 10,000 - 30,000 yen new. There are nicer options available but large frame sizes can be hard to come by and brand name bikes can get expensive as retailers stick to MSRP. Some shops offering higher quality bikes are listed below.
There are a few bicycle paths and bicycle lanes on the side of some roads, but they're generally very narrow. In most areas, bikes are ridden on the sidewalk or to the left. When biking in a group, some places prohibit riding next to each other, as it blocks the bike path. Do not expect any uniform rules to be observed when biking in Japan and expect drivers to be unfamiliar with high speed riding.
Bicycles with at least one basket for carrying bags or shopping are the norm here. These wobbly daily commuter bikes are referred to as "mama charis" after the sound of the bell: "charing charing". Or as some of us prefer, "Mama chariots."
You can find helmets, lights, baskets, reflective gear, and other bike equipment in bike shops, home centers, some sports stores, and oddly Bic Camera.
Most train stations have places to leave your bike for little or no fee. Some major stations offer commuter passes.
Seriously, don't forget to lock your bike; bike theft is the most common crime in Japan.

Nicer bike shops in Okayama:
Freedom Cycle (Okayama City)
Nakayama Bike Pro Shop (Okayama City)
Farm Bikes (Kurashiki)
Nozaki Cycle (Katsuyama - specializes in high end mountain bikes)

岡山電気軌道 - Okayama Denki Kidō
Okayama City has a tram line which starts in front of the east exit of Okayama station. It only covers 4.7km. It accepts ICOCA cards and change.
It has two lines:
Higashiyama Line: Okayama-Ekimae — Yanagawa — Higashiyama
Seikibashi Line: Okayama-Ekimae — Yanagawa — Seikibashi

View Larger Map
Fare is either 100 or 140 yen, depending on how far you ride. The trams are also air conditioned in the summer, so keep that in mind!

Local trains
To catch a local train you need to buy a ticket or swipe your ICOCA card (a prepaid local RFID card that works on trains, buses and the trams). While you are free to talk to the station station staff, do not expect much English outside of major cities and stations. In most stations you buy your ticket from a automated machine, if none is present, from the counter window. Fare and destination information will be displayed above or next to the ticket machine(s). Check that you are looking at the trains going in the right direction.
Larger stations will have LED boards with English. When exiting the station, put your ticket into the automatic slot or hand it to the staff at the counter. At some extremely small stations or at night you may have to walk to the front of the train to disembark and hand your ticket to the conductor.
If in doubt about the correct fare, you can purchase the lowest price ticket and go to the "Fare Adjustment" machine at larger stations or the ticket counter to pay the discrepancy. If you overpay, you won't get a refund.
When riding the trains, announcements will tell you which stop is next. Each station has white and blue signs with the station name in Kanji, Hiragana and English, as well as the neighboring stops in each direction.

Local train lines in Okayama prefecture:
  • Ako line - 赤穂線,(Ako sen) - From Aioi to Higashi-Okayama, however trains will continue towards Okayama station by changing to the Sanyo line. (Notable stops: Banshu-Ako*, Hinase, Imbe, Oku, Osafune, Saidaiji, Higashi Okayama) More information
  • Hakubi Line - 伯備線 (Hakubi sen) - From Okayama to Hoki-Daisen station in Tottori Prefecture. (Notable stops: Okayama, Kurashiki, Soja, Kiyone, Bichu-Takahashi, Niimi) More information
  • Ibara Line - 井原線 (Ibara sen) - From Soja to Kannabe* (Notable stops: Kiyone, Yakage (Yakake on Hyperdia), Ibara)More Information
  • Kibi line - 吉備線 (Kibi sen) - From Okayama to Soja. (Notable stops: Bizen-Ichinomiya, Soja) More information
  • Sanyo line - 山陽本線 (Sanyo honsen) - There are many different networks of the Sanyo main line. (Notable stops:Himeji*, Kamigori,*Wake, Seto, Higashi Okayama, Okayama, Kurashiki, Kasaoka, Onomichi, Fukuyama*, Hiroshima*) More information
  • Seto-Ohashi line - 瀬戸大橋線 (Seto ohashi sen) - From Okayama to Takamatsu. (Notable stops: ) More information
  • Tsuyama line - 津山線 (Tsuyama sen) - From Okayama to Tsuyama. (Notable stops: Takebe, Tsuyama) More information
  • Uno line - 宇野線 (Uno sen) - From Okayama to Uno. (Notable stops: Okayama, Uno) More information
  • Chizu Express (智頭急行) - A non-JR line From (JR)Kamigori* Station in Hyogo Prefecture to Chizu* in Tottori Prefecture, but runs through the north-eastern part of Okayama. More Information

*Not within Okayama Prefecture

Note: if you're visiting a particular place often, if you purchase your ticket in groups of 10 as a ticket book, you'll get an 11th ticket for free.

Express Trains
These trains are similar to limited express trains, their seats aren't as nice and generally they don't cost extra to ride. They skip smaller stations and arrive faster.

A typical ticket machine, outside of a city:

Note: All stations will have a fare map, but they are not always in English. If you want to learn one or two Kanji, make it the name of your home/stop! If you're really stuck, just purchase a cheaper ticket and pay the rest of the fare at the station where you disembark by talking to staff or using a fare adjustment machine.

Limited Express Trains
These extra speedy trains have nicer chairs and different cars. Usually, you'll see red kanji next to their name. They go faster and stop at less stations, and also generally cost more as well (about double the normal fare). Available in reserved (more expensive) or unreserved (look for these kanji: 自用). Unreserved trains are usually at the front of the train. You can purchase tickets from either the window, or from a green machine.
You will get two tickets - one to cover the normal fare (the same as the local train) and another ticket to pay for the seat cost of the yakumo (even if you get unreserved). You can also pay on the train when the conductor comes around to check tickets.

  • (Yakumo) やくも- Connects Okayama Station to Matsue, Shimane Prefectue.
    • Noteable stops:
      • Okayama
      • Matsue
      • Yonogo

  • (Super Inaba)スーパーいなばConnects Okayama Station to Tottori Station, in Tottori Prefecture.
    • Noteable stops:
      • Okayama
      • Kamigori
      • Tottori

  • (Super Hakuto) スーパーはくと The whole length of this train runs from Tottori Prefecture to Kyoto and back, stopping at Ohara in Okayama Prefecture.
    • Noteable stops:
      • Kyoto
      • Shin-Osaka
      • Himeji
      • Kamigori
      • Tottori

Different Shinkansen lines connect southern Kyushu to Aomori Prefecture. Okayama Station is on the San'yo Shinkansen line (山陽新幹線).
You need to buy two tickets to board the Shinkansen, one for the train fare and one for the seat. There are three types of seats, green (first class), reserved and non-reserved (the cheapest). When you buy non-reserved tickets without a specific train time on them, you can ride on any train regardless of speed.
There are different types of Shinkansen train:
  • Nozomi - Fastest and most expensive, stopping only at a few stations (Okayama included!). Used from Tokyo to Hataka.
  • Hikari - A little cheaper but a little slower than Nozomi, as it stops at more stations. Used from Tokyo to Hataka.
  • Kodama - Cheaper but much slower, stopping at all stations. Used from Tokyo to Hataka.
  • Mizuho - Like the Nozomi, faster and more expensive, stopping at only a few stations. One of the newest Shinkansen trains, running from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima.
  • Sakura - Like the Hikari, cheaper but slower, and stops at more stations. One of the newest Shinkansen trains, running from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima.

By Nozomi Shinkansen from Okayama: Tokyo (203min), Osaka (50min), Kyoto (66min), Hiroshima (34min), and Hataka (102min).

An 'ICOCA' is a card you top-up with cash, and you can use to 'touch in' and 'out' at the gate at stations and pay for your fare:
It means you don't have to buy a ticket, and can be faster and more convenient.
It costs 2000 yen: a 500 yen deposit (refunded upon returning the card) and 1500 yen to use.
You can add money at most stations by using the yellow ICOCA machine:
You pay by cash in denominations of 1000, 2000, 3000, 5000, 10,000. If you do not have the correct notes, you can pay with larger notes and receive your change in notes. For example, if you paid for 3000 yen of credit with a 10,000 yen note, you would get 7x 1000 yen notes.
Some stations do not allow you to use your ICOCA card (for example, Imbe which holds the Bizen pottery festival, and stations north of Bitchu Takahashi). However, if you arrive somewhere with a validated ICOCA card, you will be able to pay for your fare when you arrive either with a fare-adjustment machine or by speaking with station staff.
The Okayama City tram and many buses (like the bus to Aeon Mall in Kurashiki) allow you to pay by ICOCA - just touch in when you board, and touch out by the driver.
Some conbinis near train stations will also let you pay with ICOCA. You can also use your ICOCA for JR lines when you travel to places like Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. ICOCA can also be used on a number of non JR lines, such as the Osaka subway system, and buses.

Buses accept change and often ICOCA cards. There is usually a change machine near the driver, where you can put in notes or coins to receive change to pay your fare.
They will have a button to press when you want to stop, to alert the driver.
Some buses have announcements of which stop is next, and some have an LED screen near the front with the stop information in Japanese.
When you take a ticket for some buses when you board, there will be a chart that updates at the front of the bus, saying how much the fare for your ticket is. It changes as the bus progresses, and when you get off you pay the fare listed for your numbered ticket.
You will pay at the driver, by touching an ICOCA card, or putting the exact change (and ticket, if you have one) into the clear box next to the driver.
It is common courtesy to say 'thank you' to the driver when disembarking (ありがとうございます ”arigatou gozaimasu”).

Types of buses operating in Okayama:
Bihoku Bus (備北バス)
Chūtetsu Bus (中鉄バス)
Okaden Bus (岡電バス) - Okaden Website
Ryōbi Bus (両備バス) - Ryōbi Bus Website
Shimoden Bus (下電バス)
Tōbi Bus (東備バス)
Uno Bus (宇野バス)

Overnight bus - to Tokyo, etc. (夜行バス)
or another site here:

To drive a car in Japan you need an international drivers licence or permit.
Here are some websites with more information about driving in Japan:

The Expressways of Japan offer an uninterupted road between all corners of the country. The roads are fast, efficient and incredibly well kept, if a little on the un-scenic side thanks to numerous tunnels and high concrete walls. The benefit of course being the straight line plowed through mountains, valleys and cities, providing fast, painless travel from city center to center.

The expressways are not, however, free. Travelling between Tokyo and Okayama will cost around 12,000 yen one way and take roughly 8 hours. Travelling Tsuyama to Okayama will cost around 2,000 yen, and take less than an hour. These prices are only estimates, and are the cost of a single K-car. Prices do not increase per passenger.

To use the expressways, simply approach the gate and take the ticket automatically ejected. Upon leaving, you'll be treated to a similar gate, either manned with a person to take payment, or with a machine that will accept it for you. (A convenient coin sorter, as you can fill it with change and they spit 1 yen coins back at you)

You can get price information for Expressways here

There are 3 major expressways (自動車道、Jidoushadou) in Okayama prefecture.
  • Chuugoku Expressway (中国自動車道)
    • This runs from Osaka to Hiroshima, through the northern part of Okayama Prefecture. It is the major expressway passing through Mimasaka, Tsuyama and Niimi, providing access to those areas.
  • San'yo Expressways (山陽自動車道)
    • Like the Chuugoku, this expressway travels from Osaka to Hiroshima, but passes through the southern part of the Prefecture, through Okayama City. It provides acess to Osaka, Kobe and Himeji to the east, and Kurashiki, Fukuyama, Onomichi and Hiroshima travelling west.
  • Okayama Expressway (岡山自動車道)
    • A trans-Okayama highway that runs between Hokubou JCT, west of Tsuyama, and Okayama JCT, between Kurashiki and Okayama.

There are two more expressways currently under construction. During their construction, the currently open parts will remain remain free to use.
  • Mimasaka-Okayama Freeway(美作岡山国道) (Free)
    • Will Eventually link Seto with Mimasaka and the Chuugoku Expressway, but is not due to fully open until 2014. Currently, there are two sections available: Shoo to Yunago, and Saeki to Kumayama.
  • Tottori Freeway 鳥取国道 (Free)
    • Linking Sayo, Hyogo prefecture, to Tottori, Tottori prefecture, passing through Mimasaka in the North-eastern part of Okayama prefecture. Currently only Sayo to Ohara is open. Note there are three Expressway juntions in Sayo: One onto the Chuugoku Expressway (toll gate), one onto the Tottori Freeway (Free) and one between the two expressways (tollgate)

Okayama airport is located in the north of Okayama city is accessible by car or bus.
  • It has regular domestic flights within Japan to:
Tokyo-Haneda, Sapporo-Chitose, Okinawa-Naha and Kagoshima.
  • It also has International flights to:
Seoul-Incheon, Guam, Beijing, Shanghai-Pudong and Dalian.

See the flight page for more information on getting around by plane.