It serves as the major transportation hub for western Honshu and for through connections to Shikoku. The surrounding plains are used for farming of multiple crops and the mountains are home to the area's famed peaches and muscat grapes. The city also serves several industries and is the headquarters for some major corporations. Historically, the town has been important due to its strategic position and agricultural development.
And speaking of history, the area is also home to one of Japan's biggest fables. Momotaro, or Peach Boy, has appeared in books, films, and other works. The story basically goes like this:
Momotaro came to Earth inside a giant peach, which was found by an old, childless woman. The woman was washing clothes in the river when the peach floated by; she and her husband discovered the boy when they opened the peach to eat it.The demon island (Onigashima) considered to be the one Momotaro visited is Megijima, near Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. I visited Megijima before coming to Okayama.
Years later, as an adult, Momotaro leaves his parents to fight a group of demons or ogres inhabiting a nearby island. Much like Dorothy on her trip to the Emerald City, Momotaro befriends several creatures (namely, a talking dog, monkey, and pheasant) along the way who agree to help him on his quest.
Arriving at the island, Momotaro and his companions battle their way into the ogres' fort cave and force a surrender. Of course, everyone lives happily ever after.
Okayama isn't known for any specific local cuisine, with one exception. So dining options in town are the standards - this is a good place to try Japanese curry, gyudon (beef bowl), ramen or other noodles, and so on. As I mentioned before, the area produces a lot of agricultural goods, so you can find expensive peaches and grapes in the souvenir stores. And for those looking for local food, give kibi dango a shot - it's a chewy, mildly sweet snack or desert sold on sticks. But I recommend getting this in Kurashiki.