Published: August 20th 2008August 4th 2008
I will always look back at this day and think swelteringly hot. August in Japan is not a good time to do site seeing. The best thing to do during the hot muggy days of summer is to stay inside and worship the air conditioning. Despite the heat I wanted to go across the Inland Sea to Honshu and explore. Okayama is the first major city across the Seto Ohashi Bridge on Honshu. Every time I’ve gone to the main island I switched trains at Okayama Station, but I never went into the city before today. Okayama is home to Korakuen one of the three most scenic gardens in Japan. Even though it was really nice, I feel like it paled in both size and grandeur to Ritsurin. (I may be biased since I am a resident of Kagawa. ^_^) Unlike Ritsurin, which is sectioned and secluded, Korakuen is very open and the lines of the park are very well laid. To me it seems like the park was built to draw stroller’s eyes towards Okayama-jo. Kind of like a well chosen picture frame or mantle shows off a painting or display to its best advantage. The main part of the
garden is comprised of a tea house, a giant pond, many open smooth green fields, and one man made hill. At the farthest edge from the main gate there are arbors and fields that have cherry trees, plum trees, Japanese maples, lotus blossoms and rice and tea plants. We strolled around until we couldn’t take the heat anymore and headed in the direction of the castle.
Burnt down during WWII by allied forces and rebuilt by the government in 1956 it is yet another cement reproduction of an original castle. Okayama-jo has the nickname of Crow Castle because of the way it is perched on the hill and its black color. It is often considered the antithesis of Himeji Castle because of the color. I would also say that they are opposites because Himeji is the best example of an original castle and Okayama is the worst example of a reproduction that I have seen so far. The outer walls of the building looked plastic. Despite this I liked the castle and I thought the museum inside was quite nice. It looked so clean both outside and inside that I wonder if it was recently renovated.
the castle we were too weary from the heat to do much of anything. We sauntered towards the station and grabbed some take out before catching a train back to Marugame and our air conditioning.
There are more photos below