Kasaoka (笠岡) is a city in Okayama Prefecture, about 40 minutes away from Okayama City by train. The most frequent reason for visiting are its islands, especially Shiraishi Island, which you can visit by ferry.
Kasaoka Station is the only station within city limits, located along the JR Sanyo Line 15 minutes from Fukuyama and less than 45 minutes from Okayama. For drivers, Route 2 travels through Kasaoka. There are also buses that come and go from Fukuyama Station, Ibara, and Yakage.
On foot, visitors can easily go to the ramen shops, Kasaoka Port, and the art museums. Most of the cities other attractions are further away and are best reached by bus or taxi. Of course the islands must be reached by boat from Kasaoka Port.
- 1 Kabutogani Museum (カブトガニ博物館). Daily 09:00-16:30. The most well-known attraction in the city, the Kabutogani Museum features exhibits about horseshoe crabs (kabutogani) the so-called "living fossils". The surrounding Dinosaur Park features life-size dinosaurs, such as a T-Rex, which once shared the earth with horseshoe crabs. ¥520.
- 2 Ono Chikkyo Art Museum (笠岡市立竹喬美術館). Ono Chikkyo was a modern nihonga artist born here in Kasaoka. His artwork focuses on ordinary scenes of nature, many of which depict indistinguishable places in northern Okayama. ¥500.
- 3 Ikasa Railway Memorial Museum (井笠鉄道記念館). A museum with artifacts, images, and information about the former Ikasa Railway, which served Kasaoka, Yakage, Ibara, and northern Fukuyama.
- 4 Shiraishi Island (Accessible by ferry). Shiraishi Island is a quiet island of roughly 600 inhabitants mostly visited for its summer activities: swimming, sea kayaking, windsurfing, and lounging on the beach. The island's Bon dance, commemorating a bloody battle centuries ago, is well-known and attracts a large crowd each August. The island also has its own miniature version of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
- Konoshima 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The Konoshima area has its own 88 Pilgrimage walking route for those who cannot complete the Shikoku Pilgrimage. This pilgrimage is 29 km long and can be completed in two days.
Festivals and eventsEdit
- Kasaoka Port Festival. This is the city's firework festival, held at the end of July. It is one of the largest fireworks displays in the Chugoku region.
- Shiraishi Odori. Aug 14-16. This is the biggest event on Shiraishi Island. These dances are performed in honor of those who died in the Genpei Wars. There are 13 dances performed over the three days.
- Himawari Festival. Held around August 4. This festival celebrates the blooming of more than 1 million sunflowers around the Michi no Eki. Foodstalls are set up, and there is a viewing platform from which you can see the entire field of sunflowers. If you prefer a closer view, you can alternatively walk in the fields.
- Konoshima Tenjin Matsuri. Held on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday in September. Boats from the 7 areas of Konoshima gather with loud chanting.
Arguably more famous than any of the town's sites is the Kasaoka ramen. Kasaoka is nicknamed 'The Ramen Town'. The ramen restaurant boom occurred long ago due to its popularity among the sailors who docked here and has withstood the test of time to remain the city's most popular dish. There are maps of all the ramen shops available; the ramen even has its own website.
See the Shiraishi Island article for information on accommodations there.