Two of the most popular touristic destinations in Okayama city must be Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden which is one of the three best gardens in Japan.
They are within 10 minutes by tram and only a 20-25 minutes walk from JR Okayama station where bullet train/shinkansen stops.
The great thing is Korakuen Garden is only a few minutes away from Okayama Castle, you just have to go across a bridge over the Asahi River to go to Korakuen Garden from Okayama Castle.
So if you visit Okayama Castle, you can easily visit Korakuen Garden too, it’s kill two birds with one stone!
Let me introduce Okayama Castle first, and then Korakuen Garden.
The construction of Okayama Castle was completed in 1597 under the command of Hideie Ukita(宇喜多秀家), who was the feudal lord at that time.
The castle is also called Crow Castle because of its black lacquer wall.
Okayama Castle is located right by Asahi River that is serving as a natural moat.
The castle was bombed on 29th of June 1945 in the WWII and burnt down.
But the current castle was reconstructed in 1966 to the current state.
There are 6 floors in Okayama Castle. Inside the castle, there is a cafe, a souvenir shop, exhibits of the castle, its history and past feudal lords.
A Cafe inside the castle
Okayama is famous for fresh fruits like peach, grape and mango because Okayama is one of the sunniest cities in Japan.
Peach parfait in the picture above and shaved ice with match syrup were fantastic.I’d recommend you to try one of the sweets they offer.
Bizen yaki is a type of pottery local to Okayama Prefecture. On the first floor of the castle, you can take a Bizen-yaki workshop and learn how to craft a traditional pottery only for the price of 1250 yen.
Free Kimono Rental
On the second floor of the castle, you can rent a special type of kimono worn by feudal lords and their wives for free.
If you like to be in a special type of costumes worn by feudal lords and their wives, it would be a nice experience!
Don’t forget to go up to the top floor and enjoy the panoramic view of the city past feudal lords used to enjoy.
Address: 〒700-0823 岡山県岡山市北区丸の内２丁目３−１
Admission: 320yen for adults, 130 yen for children over 6 years old. 560 yen for both Okayama Castle and Korakuen garden
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:30pm(Last entry: 5:00pm)
Korakuen Garden(後楽園)is considered as one of the three best gardens in Japan, together with Kenroku-en(兼六園) in Kanazawa and Kairaku-en (偕楽園) in Mito.
Korakuen was built in 1700 by Tsunamasa Ikeda(池田綱政), the second feudal lord and it served as a garden for past feudal lords and a place to welcome guests.
There is also a Noh(traditional comedy show) stage in the garden.
There is a tea room inside the Renti-Ken and you can enjoy matcha tea and traditional sweets there.
Yui-shin zan(唯心山) is an artificial hill to make it look like a mountain in the garden.
From the top of Yui-shin zan, you can enjoy the wide view of the garden.
A Tea House
Okayama is famous for fruits like peach, grape or berries. So you can find a variety of sweets using fresh local fruits.
Rice Fields in the garden
There are actually rice fields inside the garden and they cultivate rice every year. There’s even a rice planting festival in the garden in June.
Here is the video to enjoy the taste of the rice planting festival.
There are also lots of events like night illumination, festivals and a beer garden inside the garden. Check out the events taking place in Korakuen garden.
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 6:00 pm between 20th of May and 30th of September; 8:00am – 5:00pm between the first of October and 19th of May.
Admission: 410 yen for adults.580 yen for both Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden.
The best place to take a pic of the Castle
If you want to take a best picture of Okayama Castle, you can take a boat ride on Asahi River.
There are Swan boats, peach boats or a normal rowing boat starting from 800 yen. There is also a cafe and restaurant by the river, so you can take a rest after a boat ride.
How to get to Korakuen and Okayama Castle
It’s super simple and easy to get to both destinations from JR Okayama station. You just have to keep walking on Momotaro Dori street and you will get to the Asahi River and start to see both the Korakuen Garden and the Okayama Castle!
In conclusion, whether you are on the way to another destination or staying over in Okayama, if you have half a day to spare, spend it in Okayama, you can visit both destinations!