Okayama is often overlooked by tourists visiting this region, but is worth a visit if you have some time. We visited one afternoon to see its black castle and famous Korakuen Garden.
We walked to Okayama Castle to see its distinctive black walls, but we decided not to go inside. We had visited Himeji Castle on our way to the region so we felt it perhaps wasn’t necessary.
Instead, we went to the Korakuen Garden which is one of the top gardens in Japan and for good reason. As we entered, the garden opened out in front of us into a beautiful landscape. The feeling of calm almost immediately envelopes you, and in hindsight we were glad to have visited towards the end of the day as the sun began to cast a really warm and ethereal light over the garden.
We stopped by the tea room which had just closed, but we were able to get matcha soft serve ice creams (my favourite!) while we sat overlooking the garden.
I just love Japanese gardens and how you enjoy different environments as you walk through. We walked over stepping stones over babbling streams, through the plum and cedar groves, over undulating mini hills and along a tea field. The cedar grove is called “Chishio-no-mori” referencing its beautiful colours throughout the year as “Chishio” means to dye cloth many times.
We spent a few moments sitting by one of the central ponds taking in the view back over the garden and Okayama castle in the company of some very curious koi carp.
The highlight for me was going to see the crane aviary and seeing these gorgeous majestic birds in the flesh. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a great picture because of the enclosure they were in, but it was amazing to see them.
Okayama Local Produce and Souvenirs
Walking back towards Okayama station, we happened upon a shop selling all kinds of goods from the Okayama region. We spent a good while perusing their gift boxes if Japanese sweets, specialty foods, and locally produced art and home wares.