View of Tsuyama Castle Ruins in Kakuzan Park

Tsuyama (津山) is a city in northern Okayama Prefecture, Japan.


Originally known as Soja (not to be confused with the present-day city of Soja), Tsuyama City was established in 713 as the capital of Mimasaka Province. In its early years, it was just a small town with little influence, but in 1603 things began to change after Tokugawa Ieyasu successfully defeated the local warlords and united the nation under his rule. Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded Mimasaka Province to Tadamasa Mori who rapidly began to develop the capital of his domain. Upon becoming ruler, Mori constructed plans to build his own castle and thirteen years later, the construction of Tsuyama Castle in Tsuruyama (from which the name "Tsuyama" is believed to have originated) was completed. During its heyday, Tsuyama Castle was said to be the most magnificent castle in all of Japan with an impressive amount of fortifications. The city flourished as a castle town and a major stop for pilgrims along the Izumo Kaido.

As the nation came into contact with the West during the 18th century, Western learning became increasingly crucial, and scholars from Tsuyama played an important role in translating foreign writings and forming policies to deal with the West. Unfortunately, during the Meiji Period, as castles became less practical and upkeep increasingly burdensome, the government commissioned Tsuyama Castle to be demolished, along with many others throughout the nation. While the city is not as busy and bustling today as it once was, the citizens are proud of their history and much of the city's historical sites remain well-preserved, making Tsuyama a quiet yet charming town.

Get in

By air

The nearest airport to Tsuyama is Okayama Airport. From there, you can take the Share-Ride Taxi (+81 86-822-1234) to Tsuyama for ¥2,500 (you can also go to the airport from Tsuyama). Departure times vary by month. Reservations are required .

By train

The majority of train travelers will travel from the well-connected Sanyo Line to Okayama Station. From there, you can take the Tsuyama Line directly to Tsuyama Station (the terminus) in about an hour for ¥1140. Alternatively, the Kishin Line connects Himeji to Tsuyama with a couple transfers. This is sometimes a better option for those traveling by local trains with the Seishun 18 Ticket. The Kishin Line also connects to Tsuyama with Niimi (¥1320) to the west.

If you happen to be coming from the north, the JR Inbi Line connects Tottori to Tsuyama. Trains tend to be less frequent along this line and it takes about 3 hours (¥1490) to reach Tsuyama due to the lack of alignment with connections in Chizu. Those with an hour or longer may consider exploring Chizu's historic area while waiting.

By car

The Chugoku Expressway (中国自動車道) running from Nishinomiya in the east all the way to Shimonoseki in the west passes through Tsuyama. Route 53 Connects both Okayama and Tottori to Tsuyama. From the expressway or Route 53, take the exit at the Tsuyama Interchange. From Fukuchiyama, travel on Route 429 to reach Tsuyama. From Yonago, travel south on Route 181.

By bus

Although it may surprise people, Keikyu Bus actually operates direct buses all the way from Shinagawa in Tokyo to Tsuyama for ¥9650 one way.

The JR Highway Bus and JR Shinki Bus have buses in Kyoto and Osaka bound for Tsuyama departing daily.

The bus from Kyoto boards at Kyoto Station and costs ¥3000. There are two different boarding points in Osaka. The first stop is at Osaka Station (¥2670) from the Sakurabashi Exit. The other option is at Shin-Osaka Station. Buses departing from Osaka are much more frequent than those departing from Kyoto, so it is often easier to reserve seats or buy bus tickets upon arrival in Osaka. The bus that arrives at Shin-Osaka Station is the same bus that departs from Osaka Station, so those who wish to choose their seat or sit with a group should consider boarding at Osaka Station.

Get around

By bus

The Tsuyama City bus is the Gongo Bus, named after the city's mascot. Each ride costs ¥200. From Tsuyama Station, buses travel to places around central Tsuyama, including Joto Street, along with buses to the Kume area. Buses to the northern regions can be accessed from stops closer to Higashitsuyama Station.

By car

Upon exiting the station, there are car rentals available.

By taxi

Taxis are available at Tsuyama Station.

By bike

Bike rentals are a great way to explore Tsuyama. You can rent bikes at the Tourist Information Center to the right of Tsuyama Station. Two hour rentals cost ¥400 or ¥1000 yen for the entire day. Motorized bikes cost ¥600 yen for two hours or ¥2000 for the day.

On foot

Although some of the sites are too far to reach on foot, the sites in and around Joto Street are all within walking distance of Tsuyama Station. For a map of the area, visit the information center just to the right of Tsuyama Station. Kakuzan Park takes 15-20 minutes to reach from the station on foot. Even some of the sites off Joto Street, such as Shurakuen Garden can be reached on foot.


Although there is a dialect specific to Okayama Prefecture, it's not as strong or noticeable as some of the other dialects, but you will find it spoken in Tsuyama. One word that is specific to Tsuyama that is not even used in Okayama is bucchi which means "very". In standard Japanese, this word is totemo. Rather than using bucchi, in Okayama City they use bokke.


Joto Street

Cherry blossoms lining the path leading to Kakuzan Park.

Joto Street (城東) is Tsuyama's historic district. During the Edo Period, Tsuyama was an important stop along the pilgrimage route to Izumo Shrine. Joto Street was where the pilgrims would pass through and stay. The old houses have been preserved so that today visitors can get a feel for what the city was like back in its heyday as a castle town.

Other sites

Shūraku-en Garden


Glass House



Tsuyama Neritenjin are clay figures of Neritenjin, the Shinto god of learning. In the past, they were made to worship. They are still made in Tsuyama today however, for most people, they are simply a unique souvenir.

Yokono Washi the traditional paper of the Yokono area is still produced today in the same fashion in which it was once produced.

The best place to purchase souvenirs are in the shops along Joto Street. The shops that align this street are locally owned and managed, with most of the merchandise being hand-made by the shop owners themselves.


Tsuyama is famous for it horumon udon (fried udon noodles with sauce and pork or beef giblets). The town also has two famous treats, the sweet-tasting Tsuyama Senbei and Tsuyama Manju. The senbei and manju can be purchased at the Visitor Center on Joto Street, as well as some of the specialty shops along the street.




Go next

Routes through Tsuyama

Hiroshima Niimi  W  E  Nishinomiya-Kita Kobe

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 12, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.