Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Complete Guide to Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden

If you like Japanese traditional gardens and the country’s magnificent castles, Okayama City, a 45-minute train ride away from Osaka, is an ideal destination for you to visit. Not only is Okayama Castle one of Japan’s Top 100 Castles, but its garden was chosen to be one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan!

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Tip: Check out the Have Fun in Okayama Pass (1 Week Free Pass). It might be worth it for your itinerary!

Explore Okayama With a Guide

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charm of Okayama, how about joining one of the below tours?

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.

For a detailed guide about Okayama Castle, refer to the official website HERE.

☛ 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 are wheelchairs 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 the number of wheelchairs is limited.
☛ There are coin-operated lockers on the entrance’s left. 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?!). Note the lockers are only accessible from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
☛ 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.

Okayama Castle Free Japanese Guided Tour

If you understand Japanese, join one of the free guided tours when you visit Okayama Castle. The tour is on at 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm.

Note that the tour isn’t available on the 3rd Thursday of the month, August, and from the 26th of December to the 6th of January. Note the guide could be suspended due to adverse weather conditions or other unpredictable reasons.

Bizen Ware (Bizen Yaki, 備前焼) 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 can 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, a shipping service is 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 on 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 website!

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 (until 12am)!

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!!!

☛ 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 (^_-)-☆.
☛ Special events might be held at night when you visit Okayama Castle. Refer to HERE for the event schedule.

Ⓒ 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.
    • If an event is on, the opening hours may be extended.
    • Okayama Castle is closed from the 29th to the 31st of December.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for 15 years old and older
    • 100 yen for elementary and junior high school students
    • You can also pre-purchase the admission ticket HERE.

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

  • Okayama Castle and Kōrakuen Garden: 640 yen (170 yen saving)
  • Okayama Castle, Kōrakuen Garden, and Hayashibara Museum of Art: 1,280 yen (330 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 (岡山電気軌道東山本線): 120 yen for a one-way trip

The services depart from JR Okayama Station from 6:16 am. 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 10:11 pm.

There is currently no English timetable available, but to get to Okayama Castle, get off at Jōka (城下).

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 departing 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.
    • Note the timetable above is abbreviated.
  • You can also use one of Japan’s Transport Apps to plan your visit.

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!

☆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 will be able to rent one at the main entrance if you require one.

You can refer to the offical website HERE for a detailed guide of each of the spots in the garden.

Kōrakuen’s Opening Hours and Admission Fee

  • Kōrakuen is open from
    • 7:30 am – 6 pm between 20th of March – 30th of September
    • 8:00 am – 5 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 period, Kōrakuen will have extended opening hours.
  • 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: Currently suspended
  • Guided tour

While the audio guide service is still suspended since the pandemic, English, Japanese, and Chinese-speaking guides are available from 9 am to 4 pm. The Kirari Guide Crew Desk is next to the garden’s Main Gate Information Center.

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!

Click on the photo for more travel ideas in Okayama City!

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