Okayama, capital city of the Okayama Prefecture, lies in the western part of Japan's largest island. The city was almost totally destroyed during the Second World War, but since the 1960s has come to be an important player in the Japanese economy, certainly the most important in this region. Known as the 'Hometown of Momotarō' for the ancient fable set in the town, Okayama has much to offer international expatriates of all stripes. Kōraku-en, one of the three Great Gardens of Japan, attracts many visitors, and Okayama Castle, also known as the 'Crow Castle' is another striking addition. Relative to other regions of Japan, Okayama enjoys a mild, sunny climate. The city has a thriving arts scene, with a symphony orchestra and a range of museums. Check out the InterNations forum to get advice from fellow expats living in Okayama or Japan in general on how to best spend your time in the Land of the Rising Sun.
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The city has a population of just over 700,000, making it small enough to feel homely but large enough to offer all the crucial modern amenities. For expatriate families there are excellent educational choices - there are a number of high ranking primary and secondary schools, as well as some major universities. Westerners should consider bringing several pairs of shoes and a full wardrobe, as sizes in Japan can be much smaller. You should try to arrange housing before moving to Okayama, as renting can be tricky for foreigners. Housing will usually be listed as 2LDK or 3LDK, designating the respective number of living rooms. The city has excellent transport links, making it an ideal base from which to explore western Japan. Within the city there are trams and a number of bus providers, as well as rail stations for covering greater distances. Okayama Airport is serviced by most of the major East Asian airlines. Finally, try to learn Japanese! Expats in Okayama will find life abroad much more fulfilling if they can communicate with the locals. You can check out the detailed Japan guides on the InterNations site for advice on getting set up in Japan.
Japan issues several different visa types depending on an applicant's job. You're likely to need a job lined up in order to secure such a working visa. Moreover, young people between 18 and 30 from a variety of countries are eligible for a one-year working visa. Many expatriates in Japan turn to English tutoring as a way to earn their keep, and Okayama offers great opportunities in the form of the Aeon headquarters, as well as other private schools. Next to education, the city has strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors. The Kōnan district in the downtown region is the most developed industrial base, while Omotechō has the most shops. Join InterNations’ online expat community in order to learn more about life in Okayama, Japan, and the opportunity to network and socialize with fellow expats living in Okayama, Japan, or across the world.