For the international guests coming for the wedding celebrations, we wanted to make travel easy so we produced a Travel Dossier and series of videos to help with all the “macro” logistics of coming to Japan and getting around easily.
Then for the “micro” logistics around Okayama and wedding-related events, we assembled Welcome Packets which were distributed (with some customization) to the guests’ hotels.
The packets in general included maps of the local area, in particular, a great English-language map by “Next-Trip” which included the 2 primary hotels and various coffee shops and fave restaurants along with the popular tourist sites (castle, gardens, museums etc). To top it off was a few business and/or event cards for other useful shops and exhibits.
Additionally, we stashed a “Japanese Basic Vocab” sheet with handy phrases and a transportation sheet which had instructions for taxi drivers in Japanese and English to aid in getting to various venues. Plus an itinerary of the events, times and locations.
Finally, there was Google Map of venues and Whatsapp group chat channel for on-the-go digital updates.
There were a couple of special young ones coming for the shindig so they received a special welcome packet designed to help them make scrap-journals of their trip. As such, included scissors, glue sticks, stickers, pens, letter/note sets, and blank books with hearty paper – all compiled in a vinyl zippered pouch.
As evidenced by sweet Emily Olson upon her return to Canada, the scrapbooks proved to be a handy way to document a journey in “real-time” with paper ephemera and others papery bits.
For the record, the narrative from the itinerary doc is included, more or less intact.
On the Ground Itinerary
Welcome to #DRO420, we’re glad you’re here. Please keep this guide with you as it contains the critical times and places to be, logistics about transport, plus options for other outings.
Also included is a card in English and Japanese which will be handy for pointing to when getting rides with taxis or asking directions in general.
There is also a WhatsApp Okayama Kekkon Goodtimes group to help coordinate people for various activities. Obv Dave and Ryoko will be very busy doing the “actually getting married“ stuff so please refer to Travel Dossier doc, Okayama Kekkon Map (plus the great map by Next Trip in your packet), and lil videos as possible. Also, please take time to add reviews to our vendors/locations.
Note: Dave and Ryoko are staying at Koraku Hotel from 18-21 then at Ryoko’s home near Higashi Okayama station, marked as Tsuchida house in map.
Wednesday > Thursday April 17-18 / get settled
- Check into hotel, tell us you are here via Whatsapp, get some rest, eat food, wander around
- Ideas: take walk around Okayama, see a museum, hit up the shopping arcade, malls or Bic camera / electronics, eat more food, drink local bevvies (see map)
Friday April 19 / welcome party
- Dave and Ryoko go to City Hall to register marriage (a rather soulless clerical task)
- Meet at Bird Live House at 3PM / this is a usually a live music place which is all wooden like an old ship. They are opening off-hours for our “picnic style” hangout to welcome everyone, introduce each other, and plan for next few days (15 min walk from Koraku, 8 min from OVH, or a easy streetcar ride/short walk ¥140)
Saturday April 20 / shrine ceremony & kaiseki lunch
- Note: Dave Ryoko will be at wedding prep place from 9AM so incommunicado on this morning
- If pre-ordered kimono rental (Rob, Sandra, Emily), Ryoko’s parents will pick you up (pending) at 9-ish at hotel to take to get dressed etc and take you back after lunch to return outfit
- Meet at Munetada jinjya (shrine) at 10:30-11:00 AM – go by taxi for photos and enjoyment, followed by ceremony at 11:30 (approx :40 mins) then more photos with kimonos
- Go to Fuyahei for (hosted kaiseki) lunch approx 1:00-3:00 by shared taxi from shrine (pre-paid)
- Then, if staying at hotel, you are free to roam. If going to stay at farm, catch train from Okayama station going to Seto station (5 stops), take taxi to Rural Caprine Farm (Seto taxi will be aware of foreigners coming and will bill us or charge approx ¥1000) There will be food /drink in fridge, futons ready, camp site cleared, and a list of small tasks to help with (hang lights and posters, set up drink stations, help farmer Mac)
- For in-city folks, possible izakaya pub night with Ryoko (self-pay) with her Japanese pal(s)
Sunday April 21 / goat farm party
- If staying at hotel, go to Rural Caprine farm by train and taxi (Seto station – see guide in packet) anytime after 11AM
- If staying at farm, make a nice breakfast with food stash
- Brother James and kids, hold self-church meeting
- Either way… get ready to party and help out including: setting out food and dishes, helping band set-up, set out gift bags, prep beverages, hanging posters and lights, set-up welcome, name tag, guest book, photo stations…
- Dave and Ryoko arrive around Noon to get dressed for ceremony and party
- Party ON! 3:00-6:00ish is scheduled activities (ceremony, dance, cake etc) after that, enjoy more food and bevvies, dance, laugh, take photos (self-service cameras)
- If returning to hotel, listen for announcements about people who can give rides to station, or take taxi to station to go back to Okayama city (note: Ekimae means “by station”)
Monday April 22 / tourist day
- Dave rest day (gotta do it) so have fun with your new friends
- If staying at Goat Farm, lend a hand tidying up and eat/drink leftovers, enjoy farm
- Ryoko may take a group to (top-3 in JPN!) traditional Kurakoen garden (about ¥400)
- Tourist activities including: day trip to Hiroshima or Kyoto or Kurashiki or Bizen or… museums, shopping, eating Remember “Next-Trip” map and Gmap (PS can rent bike or use streetcars)
- Also: possible group bicycle outing on country road to shrines and possible hot spring
- Suggest: Meetup at Men-ya Gakucho Ramen or other resto listed on Okayama Kekkon GMap
Tuesday April 23 / more outing day
Group outings, TBD note: can’t really do everyone to one thing, so make own adventure, i.e.:
- Kurashiki, old-timey trading town filled with canals, denim and art museums) (local train)
- Okayama cultural area with castle, garden, endless museums (streetcar, green bus, walk)
- Bizen, pottery kilns and museum and sword museum (short local train)
- Himegi, big old castle! (quick by bullet train)
- Kyoto, everything Japan all at once + Tokyu Hands Creative Life store (by bullet train)
- Yubarra onsen by rental van (outdoor hotsprings / nekkid in a mountain village – no tattoos :()
- Hiroshima by fast train (atomic bomb site and massive okonomiyaki)
- Group meetup dinner at sushi or izakaya TBD
Wednesday April 24 / sayonara day, part 2
- More/same as above
- More people leave, those remaining, let’s do another outing then final meal at Izakaya…
- Japan Tourism Hotline +81-50-3816-2787 or 050-3816-2787
- Police service 110 Ambulance 119