AEON Okayama is here and has turned the center of the city into a magnet for both local shoppers and those from the surrounding prefectures. The largest AEON Mall in West Japan, it hosts an impressive 356 shops.
Getting to AEON is easy and as it is located just a few blocks south of Okayama Station, taking the train is popular and convenient. Driving is fairly straightforward as well since the mall can accommodate over 2500 vehicles between its two parking garages. Parking fees are reduced or even free depending whether you spend over 1000 or 2000 yen and have your ticket validated at the shop where your purchase was made.
For cyclist and motorcyclists there is covered parking available from 200 yen. If you need to rent a bicycle to get around the area, you can do that at the station or at AEON itself, returning to whichever location is most suitable for you.
The idea of making it to all 356 shops may sound daunting but the layout of the mall over eight spacious floors creates an open laid-back feeling. There are comfortable sofas and chairs in the common areas for people who want to take a break from shopping or just hangout. There are also tables and chairs dotted around the mall where you will see people studying, reading, eating or whatever.
The shops have it all covered from fashion to decorative items and toys to accessories, you will find something that catches your eye. For me the food court is the place to be. I was impressed by the variety but also by the fact that eating establishments were on each floor, which helped reduce the crowds at mealtime.
The cinema is on the fifth floor and is positioned slightly away from the main traffic of the mall which prevents congestion along the walkways.
The sixth and seventh floors hold the full-service restaurants, including Japanese, Chinese and European fare. There is an exquisite and expansive courtyard on the seventh floor that provides a Mediterranean-style dining experience for those who appreciate an open-air atmosphere.
AEON Okayama has tipped the scale of excitement in Okayama City and will keep you coming back for more.