Okayama is the capital of Okayama Prefecture and the largest city in the Chugoku Region after Hiroshima. The city is the site of Korakuen, known as one of the top three traditional gardens in Japan (along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen and Mito’s Kairakuen), and Okayama Castle, which is ranked among the best 100 Japanese castles. The city is famous as the setting of the Japanese fable Momotaro (the Peach Boy). You’re likely to enjoy fine weather on any trip to the Okayama area, which calls itself the Land of Sunshine and reportedly has more sunny days than anywhere else in the country.
Considered one of Japan’s three great gardens, Okayama Korakuen Garden was completed about 300 years ago after 14 years of construction by the daimyo Tsunamasa Ikeda—head of the Okayama Domain at that time—as a place of peace. Covering some 14 ha, Korakuen Garden includes wide lawns and Enyo-tei House (built as living quarters) as well as hills, flowers, trees, Seiden (Rice Fields), and a teahouse. The garden incorporates a small stream of clear water pulled from the Asahi River. This stream forms a waterfall and a pond within the garden before returning to the Asahi River. Beautiful trees and flowers can be found throughout the park, offering visitors a unique scene that changes with the season, from cherry blossoms in spring to the brilliant colours of autumn foliage.
Activities: Photo stop, Park visit Fee: JPY 400 Time required: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Okayama Castle was built by Hideie Ukita, the Okayama area’s lord, in 1597 and took eight years to complete. Okayama Castle brought many merchants and craftsman to the area and affirmed Okayama City as a true castle town, paving the way for the development of present-day Okayama. Under new owners, the castle continued to grow with buildings expanding with each era, making it one of Japan’s greatest castles. The outer walls of Okayama Castle’s keep are made of boards coated with a black lacquer used as a preservative. This black colour has earned the castle the nickname “U-jo” (Crow Castle) for its resemblance to a crow’s feathers.
Activities: Photo stop, Castle visit Fee: JPY 300 Time required: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Okayama Station Area & Omotecho
The area around the station offers a wide range of shopping opportunities including a large shopping mall, a large home electronics speciality shop, and various discount shops—all within walking distance. Some of them are AEON Mall Okayama, Okayama IchiBanGai Shopping Center, Sun Station Terrace Okayama, and Takashimaya. In the Omotecho area (a stop closest to Korakuen Garden), you can find speciality brand stores where you can purchase Okayama souvenirs such as Tenmaya, Omotecho Shopping Street and Hare no Kuni Okayama-kan, Cred Okayama, and Okayama Lotz. (Image via Okayama Kanko)
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Not far from Okayama is the town of Kurashiki. Once a major centre for stockpiling rice, the town’s traditional storehouses, and merchant homes have been converted into boutiques, cafes, and museums. Kurashiki is a city with a picturesque, historic canal area.
A quaint town not too far from Okayama which characterized by its many slopes. Many of the town’s attractions are located along the slopes, and visitors will need to walk up the narrow lanes that cut through the residential areas to reach them.