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A Brief Guide For Your Next Stop After Korakuen - Okayama Castle!

A Brief Guide For Your Next Stop After Korakuen - Okayama Castle!

Translated by Jelena Kitamura

Written by Mayu

Okayama 2017.05.11 Bookmark

Okayama Castle is the castle in the city of Okayama. Known for its all black walls and tiles, and for its proximity to Korakuen, the grand garden that once belonged to the owner of the castle, Okayama Castle is a very exciting place to visit.

Meet Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle, is the symbol of the city of Okayama in Okayama Prefecture. An impressive sight, it stands tall with its all-black walls and roof tiles, for which it earned another distinctive name – the Crow Castle (*1). On the top of the tenshu, or its center tower, the golden orca whales guard the castle, so sometimes it is called the Golden Crow Castle as well.

Next to the castle is one of Japan’s traditional gardens, the great Korakuen. Together with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, and Kairakuen in Mito, this wonderful garden with its beautiful landscapes is considered to be one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.

It is believed that the construction of Okayama Castle probably began in 1346, after which it underwent a few improvement and reconstruction projects, and that it was completely finished in the 1600s. However, due to events in the latter half of 1800s, the famous Meiji Restoration (*2) and the Second World War, the castle tower, the yagura (watchtower), as well as many other facilities were destroyed.

The castle we can admire today is a reconstructed version of the previous one, built after the war in the latter half of 1950s. Only the Tsukimi Yagura tower and a few other parts are preserved and considered to be over 400 years old.

While visiting Korakuen, why not stop by Okayama Castle as well? Here we will introduce some basic information on the castle and its attractions, as well as the best ways to get there.

*1 Tenshu: the tallest building of Japanese castles, considered to be a symbol of each.
*2 Meiji Restoration: the revolution that brought about the Meiji Government to rule over Japan after the defeat of the Edo Bakufu.

Something You Ought to Know About Okayama Castle

岡山城

Image courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Okayama Castle is closed for visitors from December 29th until December 31st, but you can plan your voyage any other day, from 9:00 in the morning until 17:30 in the evening. However, be careful of the time – you can enter the castle only until 17:00.

The ticket for adults costs 300 yen, and for elementary and junior high school students, 120 yen.

You can also buy the combined pass for both Okayama Castle and Korakuen, in which case the fare for adults is 560 yen, and for elementary and junior high school students 260 yen.

How to Get to Okayama Castle

If you want to go to the castle from the JR Line Okayama Station in the city center, save yourself some time and catch the trolley. Ride the trolley bound for Higashiyama, and get off at the Shiroshita stop. The fare for adults is 100 yen, and for children 50 yen. You just need to walk for about ten minutes from the bus stop, and then your exploring can start.

If you want to learn more on how to get to Okayama from Tokyo, check out Okayama and Kurashiki Travel Guide: Sightseeing, Local Food, Festivals. Also, you can refer to the following article to know more about the transportation means in Okayama: Hop on a tram to get to the popular tourist destinations, Korakuenand Okayama castle!

What Okayama Castle Has to Offer

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Image courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

The Castle Tower: Tenshukaku

Okayama Castle’s castle tower is said to be constructed in the same manner as the one of Himeji Castle – as an observation tower. It is a style that was widely used during the Sengoku period, with a defensive tower in the upper part of the castle to protect it from the enemy far and wide.

Because of the black boards covering the outer walls, the whole castle seems to be cloaked in black, resembling a crow which earned it the name Ujo, or the Crow Castle.

The inner part of the tenshu (main tower) is currently being used as an archive with castle’s important historical documents displayed inside.

Tsukimi Yagura

Even though the majority of the castle was lost due to the Meiji Restoration and wartime destruction, some parts of the gate, as well as the Tsukimi Yagura tower next to the castle’s main tower, are still well preserved and have stood tall for over 400 years.

The main purpose of the Tsukimi Yagura tower is to guard the castle from possible rear attacks. What makes it distinguishable from the tenshu are its white walls, and it is listed as one of Japan’s Important Cultural Properties.

Seasonal Events to Look Forward to in Okayama Castle

The All Year Round Illuminations

岡山城
岡山城

Image courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

The illumination of the castle is a pleasing sight to behold every day throughout the year, from sunset until 24:00 in the night. During Golden Week (the end of April and the beginning of May), and during the picnic seasons in August and November, you can admire special Japanese traditional lantern illuminations here as well.

The Special Opening of the Tsukimi Yagura During Golden Week

Also, don’t forget to take a sneak peek into the usually-forbidden-to-enter inner part of Tsukimi Yagura – a special event held during the first weekend of May.

What to Explore in the Surrounding Area

Korakuen

岡山城
岡山城

Image courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation

Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to pay a visit to Korakuen while in Okayama Castle! What makes Korakuen extraordinarily beautiful is the technique used in its constructing – the nearby castle and the nature surrounding the garden are incorporated in the scenery and take great part in its beauty (shakkei – the “borrowed scenery” technique).

You can also delight in different flowers blooming elegantly during each season – cherry blossoms in spring, water lilies in summer, camellia in winter, and many more.

Okayama Castle

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** The information contained in this article is current as of April 2017 and based on data from official websites. This information may be subject to change.

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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