Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Complete Guide to Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden

Have you heard of the Okayama Prefecture? It is just a 45-minute 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 open throughout this maintenance period.

Click HERE to skip to Kōrakuen Garden.

Okayama Castle (岡山城) – One of the Top 100 Castles in Japan

Okayama Castle

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 color black is known to absorb heat…).

The current castle was 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 rebuilt and reconstructed in 1966.

Tips:
☛ 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 less mobile people, so they can also get a chance to 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!
☛ 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 premises (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 COVID19 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).
Ⓒ Okayama Tourism Federation

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 favorite amongst flower arrangement masters in Japan.

Bizen Ware Making Activity at Okayama Castle Japan
Ⓒ Okayama Tourism Federation

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 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 will be experiencing, please click HERE for the 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!!!

Tip: In supporting World Diabetes Day, the lighting will be blue instead of the usual greenish lighting. So plan your trip around the day! It is during the beautiful autumn foliage season, too (^_-)-☆.

Ⓒ Okayama Tourism Federation

Important: The lighting show 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 and Admission Fee

  • Okayama Castle is open from 9 am – 5:30 pm daily
    • The last admission is at 5 pm
  • 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 canceled for 2021 and 2022 due to renovation
  • The admission fee is
    • 320 yen for 15 years old and older
    • 130 yen for children between 6 and 14 years old

Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden Combined Tickets (Only for 15 Years Old and Older)

  • Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden: 580 yen (150 yen saving)
  • Okayama Castle, Kōrakuen Garden, and 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 departing 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.

By Bus
  • Take the Okaden Bus (岡電バス) bound for Fujihara Danchi (藤原団地), departs from Okayama Station’s bus stop no. 1, and gets off at Kōrakuen -mae (後楽園前)
    • 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.
    • The bus fare is 140 yen
  • Take the Ryobi Bus (両備バス) bound for Saidaiji (西大寺) via Higashiyama departs from Okayama Station’s bus stop no. 10, and gets off at Kenchō-Mae (県庁前)
    • HERE is the timetable for the service. The first page is for weekdays and the second page is for weekends and public holidays

Prior to Covid-19, special Okayama Kōrakuen bus services were running from JR Okayama Station bus stop no. 1 from 9:15 am at a 30-minute interval. The service is currently suspended.

But you can always check HERE to see if the service has resumed!

Kōrakuen (後楽園) – One of the Three Great Gardens in Japan

If you are a Japan travel addict like us, 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 it a 3-star rating by Michelin, the garden’s name actually reminds people of the characteristics of a great leader.

Furthermore, it is a designated Special National Place of Scenery Beauty!

Kōrakuen And Okayama Castle
Ⓒ Okayama Tourism Federation

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. But let us point out the obvious in case you forget!

  •  A selfie with the garden as well as the Okayama Castle as a backdrop is a must!
  • The view from the little island or hill in the large pond is amazing (refer to the photo above).

There is a reason why the locals take their wedding photos around the hill!

Tips:
☆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 Covid-19 is over

Please click HERE for the official pamphlet!

Kōrakuen’s Opening Hours and Admission Fee

  • Kōrakuen is open from
    • 7:30 am – 6:00 pm between 20th of March – 30th of September
    • 8:00 am – 5:00 pm between 1st of October – 19th of March
    • The last admission is 15 minutes before the garden’s closing time
  • During the light-up event between mid to end of November, Kōrakuen is open until 8:30 pm.
  • The admission fee is
    • 410 yen for 15 years old and older
    • 140 yen for 65 years old and older
    • Free otherwise

Guide Services at Kōrakuen

If you prefer a guide to show you the garden, there are two options.

  • Audio Guide
  • Tour guide: Reservation is required

For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

Nighttime Light Up at Kōrakuen Garden

Similar to Okayama castle, Kōrakuen also exhibits nighttime light-up.

The only difference is that it does not occur 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.

Ⓒ Okayama Tourism Federation

So if you are a big fan of this kind of light-up event, 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 Fall Foliage at Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden

  • Cherry blossom: late March to early April
  • Autumn Foliage: mid-November to early December

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 dropping by with our Okayama City article!

Kibitsuhiko-Shrine-Okayama-Japan
Click on the photo for more travel ideas in Okayama City!

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