Okayama Ekimae

The center of Okayama City

By Kenji Chida    - 2 min read

Okayama Ekimae is the area composed of several square blocks fronting the east side of Okayama Station. The boundary extends east towards the Nishigawa River, south in the direction of city hall and north as far as the city court building. It is the business center, gathering place and transit point for many of the city’s residents.

As the train station gives the neighborhood its name it is a great place to start your exploration. You could walk underground through the Ichibangai shopping complex beneath the station that connects the buildings in the surrounding area. If you want to stay at street level, Momotaro Boulevard is the main artery that runs from the station to Kourakuen Garden. It is packed with department stores, karaoke boxes, restaurants, bars and shops.

The south side of Momotaro Boulevard is accented by a labyrinth of narrow streets that host a variety of izakaya or Japanese style pubs, trendy accessory shops, internationally themed bars and fashion retailers.

The opposite side of Momotaro Boulevard is the gateway to Bic Camera and the traditional covered shopping street that is behind it. If you need a quick hair cut there is an old fashioned barbershop and a reasonable unisex salon in the shopping street across from the Doremi building.

The most heavily traveled spot in Okayama Ekimae has to be the corner where Momotaro Boulevard meets the ever popular Ekimae McDonald’s. It was such a popular locale for young people to cruise in their cars that traffic was prohibited during the primetime hours by authorities. Sedans with tinted windows making the famous left turn at one kilometer per hour with music blaring are gone but the people are still there all night long.

Thursday to Saturday from 8 pm to 2 am is the time when night life is at its peak in Ekimae, with company employees and college students making up the majority of the revelers. Monday through Friday morning reveals the business side of the area while the holiday and weekend mornings bring families to the shops.

The best thing about Okayama Ekimae is that it is always transforming itself with new stores and restaurants yet maintains its identity as the city’s captivating area in front of the station.

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Kenji Chida

Kenji Chida @kenji.chida

I was born and raised in Baltimore City, Maryland in the USA after which I moved to New York City at the age of 21. I lived, studied and worked in New York for five years then moved to Okayama in 1998 at the age of 26. After living in Japan for 5 years I decided to try to naturalize. I was granted Japanese citizenship at the age of 33. I am interested in education, political philosophy, and Japanese society. I enjoy playing softball with my kids, driving and motorcycles. I can't say I enjoy running but I often join local 5k races. I want more people from abroad to come to Japan for a visit and I hope that some portion of that group decides to stay. Japan is for everyone!

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Selena Hoy 6 years ago
I love the detail about the McDonald's being the former cruising spot!