- I was here twice, November 2008 and April 2013.
- Number of days: two half days.
- 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 only has these two attractions, but I think they are interesting enough for a half day visit.
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 station it takes about 20 minutes to the garden, either on foot, by bus or tram.
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, the 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 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.
LUNCH IN OKAYAMA
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.