Updated on February 25, 2019
- I was here twice, half day in November 2008 and half day in April 2013.
- Number of days recommended: half day.
- My score: 3/5.
So, if my score is 3-5, I usually mean that it is okay to visit but I would not repeat it, why have I come here twice? Because the first time I arrived late and the Korakuen was closed. Okayama (岡山) only has these two attractions, but I think they are interesting enough for a visit.
Considered one of the 3 best gardens in Japan, along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Kairakuen in Mito. Open daily from 7:30 to 18:00 (March 20 to September 30), 8:00 to 17:00 (October 1 to March 19). Admission ¥ 400 (¥ 560 combined ticket with the castle). There are two entrances. Most tourists use the south one on the bridge from the castle.
Built in 1687 by the feudal lord, as part of his residence. It opened to the public in 1884. Although it was severely damaged in the floods of 1934 and bombed in the World War II, it was rebuilt trying to maintain the appearance that presented in feudal times. The most characteristic feature is that, unlike most Japanese gardens, Korakuen is very diaphanous. It also has a central lake, canals, a small hill and even rice fields. Among the trees, flowering cherry trees in spring and maples in autumn are the highlights.
On the east bank of the Asahi river surrounding the garden, there are plenty of cherry trees.
Open from 9 to 17:30 daily, admission ¥ 300 (¥ 560 combined with the garden, ¥ 800 if there are temporary exhibitions). Famous for being almost completely black (its nickname is the Crow Castle) in oposition to the white Himeji Castle. In my opinion they cannot be compared, since Himeji’s is by far the most beautiful one in the country. As in Hiroshima, it was completely destroyed during the war, now it is a replica from 1966. Highlights are its main 6 floors tower and a moat, part of which is formed by the Asahi River. I have not visited it from the inside.
WHEN TO GO
The garden is at its peak and receives the largest number of visitors in early spring, coinciding with the flowering of the cherry trees on the east bank, and in autumn, to see the deciduous maples leaves.
HOW TO GET HERE
Okayama is in the Shinkansen line, about halfway between Hiroshima and Osaka, making it a comfortable place to visit for a few hours and move on to the next destination. From the main train station it takes approximately 20 minutes, either on foot or by tram; bus 18 takes 10 minutes; public transport costs ¥ 100 per trip and there is at least one bus and tram every half hour from the train station.
WHERE TO EAT
I recommend eating at any of the restaurants located at the southern exit of Korakuen. They are more expensive than in any other ones in town, but the views of the castle are unbeatable.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Most of us will visit the city as an intermediate stop between Hiroshima and Osaka / Kobe / Kyoto. If we decide to spend a night, most accommodations are precisely between the train station and the Korakuen. Okayama is not a usual place for overnight stays, so accommodations are not very abundant, especially hostel type (there are hardly two in the city).