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Originally Posted On: A Complete Guide To Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden (visitjapan-vegetarian.com)
Have you heard of the Okayama Prefecture? It is just 45 minutes train ride away from Osaka! Most importantly, you get to visit one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan and one of the Top 100 Castles in one go (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ
Important: Okayama Castle will be closed from the 1st of June 2021 for maintenance work. The current proposed re-opening time is in November 2022. But the castle’s famous garden Kōrakuen isn’t affected by this work and is opened throughout this maintenance period.
Okayama Castle (岡山城) – One of the Top 100 Castles in Japan
Okayama Castle, also known as Crow Castle (Ujo), was completed in 1597. Contrasted to the all-white castle Himejijo in Himeji, it is all black (isn’t it trendy? Although it might be quite hot in the summer inside as the colour black are known to absorb heat…).
The current castle was actually destroyed in an air raid during World War II so the majority of the castle (excluding the Observation Tower – Tukimiyagura) that you see today was actually rebuilt and reconstructed in 1966.
☛ The castle has an elevator inside for anyone who needs it (basement floor to 4th floor)!
☛ If climbing stairs is hard for you that you won’t be able to go to the top of the castle or Tukimiyagura, the castle is prepared! They have photos readily available for people who are less mobile so that they can still get a chance to take a look at the castle’s infrastructure as much as other visitors (*’▽’).
☛ There is ONE wheelchair that you can rent from at the castle during your visit. If you require one, it is highly recommended that you reserve it first because unfortunately, there is only ONE! Note it seems like they currently only take inquiries through phone call or fax, so if you need help with communication, please contact us HERE and we will see what we can do for you (‘ω’)ノ.
☛ There are coin-operated lockers in the basement of the castle for visitors to use. You will need to insert 100 yen, which will be returned to you when you collect your belongings and leave the premise (isn’t that good?!).
☛ If your belongings are too big to fit into the locker, talk to the staff there, and they will be able to keep them in the castle’s office.
The Surprises At The Top Floor Of The Castle – Tenshukaku Observatory
- From the top floor of the castle, you will be able to see the whole Kōrakuen Garden, which is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan!
- Once the threat of the health crisis becomes history, we are sure you will be able to dress up as a Japanese Lord or Princess for FREE again. Fingers crossed… (note this is only offered to the first 5 visitors to the dress-up area).
Bizen Ware (備前焼 Bizen Yaki) Making Activity at Okayama Castle
Bizen ware is a type of Japanese pottery in Bizen province, currently the Okayama prefecture. It is renowned for its toughness and without glaze.
Due to its hardness, the Bizen ware has been a favourite amongst flower arrangement masters in Japan.
At Okayama Castle, you will be able to make your own pottery for just 1,250 yen (500g of clay) and 60 minutes of your life. As it takes them about one month to complete the firing process, there is a shipping service available for the finished product overseas with extra charges applied.
This activity runs only at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm and at 3 pm at the ground level of the castle. So don’t miss this precious opportunity when you visit Okayama Castle next time!
For more photos of what you’ll be experiencing, please click HERE (official Japanese website, but photos tell all the stories)!
Night Time Light Up at Okayama Castle
Looking for some fun after sunset? Here at Okayama Castle, when the sky gets dark, the light is on!
Without any entry fee, you will be able to enjoy the mysterious atmosphere around the castle until the date stamp changes (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
And the best thing is, it is usually not a crowded spot!!!
Tips: In supporting World Diabetes Day, the lighting will be of a blue colour instead of the usual greenish lighting. So plan your trip around the day! It is during the beautiful autumn foliage season too (^_-)-☆.
Important: the lighting is usually on every day, except during the electricity-saving campaign. This will be notified on the official Okayama castle website (though we aren’t too sure whether it will be on the English official website as well. So, if you want to be absolutely sure, contact us HERE and we will check it out for you!)
Okayama Castle’s Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- 9 am – 5:30 pm with the last admission at 5 pm daily
- During the light-up event between mid to end of Nov, it will open until 8:30 pm. Note the light-up event at Okayama Castle may be cancelled for 2021 & 2022 due to renovation
- 15 years old and older: 320 yen
- Children between 6 and 14 years old: 130 yen
Okayama Castle & Kōrakuen Garden Combined Tickets (Only For 15 Years Old And Older)
- Okayama Castle & Kōrakuen Garden: 580 yen (150 yen saving)
- Okayama Castle & Kōrakuen Garden & Hayashibara Museum of Art: 980 yen (250 yen saving)
How To Get To Okayama Castle?
From JR Okayama Station, you can take a bus or tram (and of course walk) to Okayama Castle. The tram is the cheapest option out of the two.
By Tram (100 yen one way)
The services depart from JR Okayama Station from 6:16 in the morning. Although the timetable for weekdays and weekends/public holidays may slightly differ, you will get at least 4 services within an hour with the last service departs at 22:11.
There is currently no English timetable available, but for the link below, you might be getting on the tram from JR Okayama Station (岡山駅) and getting off at Jōka (城下). These are the two tram stops that you’ll be boarding and getting off.
- Okaden Bus (岡電バス)’s route 8 bound for Okaden Takaya (140 yen) departs from Okayama Station’s bus stop #9. The timetable can be found HERE (Japanese only). The table on the left is for weekdays and the table on the right is for weekends and public holidays.
- Ryobi Bus (両備バス) bound for Saidaiji (西大寺) via Higashiyama (Higashiyama Keiyu Saidaiji). The timetable in Japanese can be found on page one of the PDF HERE. The table in black is for weekdays and the table in red is for weekends and public holidays.
You then get off at Kencho-Mae (県庁前), walk for 5 minutes and the crow castle will be right in front of you! (We actually stayed at a hotel that was close to the castle for the dress-up activity).
Prior to the health crisis, special Okayama Kōrakuen bus services were running from JR Okayama Station bus stop #1 from 9:15 am on 30 minutes internal. The service is currently suspended due to a lack of customers.
But you can always check HERE to see if the service has resumed!
Route 15 of Okaden Bus that is bound for Kyōyama (京山) is another option. Instead of getting off at Kencho-Mae, please get off at Kōrakuen-Mae (後楽園前). The timetable for this route can be found HERE. Again, the table on the left is for weekdays and the table on the right is for weekends and public holidays.
Kōrakuen (後楽園) – One Of The Three Great Gardens In Japan
If you are like us – a Japan travel addict, then you get to tick off another item on your bucket list when you visit Okayama!
Known as one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan, not only the beauty of the garden has earned itself a 3-star rating by Michelin, the garden’s name actually reminds people of the characteristics of a great leader.
Kōrakuen – the Garden of Pleasure After means to be a leader that people want to follow, you must put others’ needs before your own interests.
Kōrakuen was completed in 1700. Whilst it was severely damaged by the air raid during World War II, the Japanese were able to rebuild and retain the garden to its original glory after the war.
The size of Kōrakuen is approximately 13 hectares, so there are plenty of photo-taking opportunities everywhere. Although just in case, let us point out the obvious in case you forget!
- A selfie with the background of the garden as well as the Okayama Castle is a must!
- The view from the little island or hill in the large pond is amazing (we refer to the photo above).
There is a reason why the locals take their wedding photos around the hill!
☆彡Coin-operated lockers at the entrance area: 300 yen (big), 200 yen (medium), 100 yen (small)
☆彡If your luggage is too big to fit inside the big size locker, you can leave it at the ticket booth
☆彡Rental of wheelchairs and prams are free of charge. You’ll be able to rent one at the main entrance if you require one
☆彡You should be able to rent one of the audio guide machines once the health crisis is over
Please click HERE for the official pamphlet!
Kōrakuen’s Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- 20th of Mar – 30th of Sep: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm (last admission at 5:45 pm)
- 1st of Oct – 19th of Mar: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (last admission at 4:45 pm)
- During the light-up event between mid to end of Nov, it’ll open until 8:30 pm.
- 15 years old and older: 410 yen
- 65 years old and older: 140 yen
Night Time Light Up at Kōrakuen Garden
Similar to Okayama castle, Kōrakuen also exhibits night time light up.
The only difference is, it does not occur a daily…and…it isn’t free…
The light-up exhibition at Kōrakuen garden only occurs a few times a year, with each event lasting for a few weeks.
So if you are a big fan of this kind of light-up event, then check out HERE on the official website when planning your trip!
How To Get To Kōrakuen Garden?
Please refer to How to get to Okayama Castle above. The garden is located next to the castle (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ
Cherry Blossom And Autumn Foliage At Okayama Castle And Kōrakuen Garden
- Cherry blossom: late March to early April
- Autumn Foliage: mid-Nov to early Dec
Other Attractions In Okayama City
Okayama City isn’t just about Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden.
Find out other fascinating attractions in the area that are worthwhile to drop by with our Okayama City article!