Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Shizutani School: The Oldest But Scenic School in Japan

If you are interested in seeing a Japanese school from a couple of centuries ago, visit Shizutani School (旧閑谷学校) in Okayama‘s Bizen City. It is the oldest public school in Japan and was thus designated as a National Historic Site. The school was established in the early 1670s by the then Okayama Domain’s lord, Ikeda Mitsumasa (池田 光政), so everyone in his territory can receive education. The school has nurtured many talented leaders throughout Japanese history.

About Shizutani School

Ⓒ Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Most of the school buildings have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. The main lecture hall designated as a National Treasure. So, when you are admiring the interiors of the buildings, try to be very careful and don’t break anything, or you will be paying it off for a very long time…

The flooring in the main lecture hall has a very enticing-looking shiny surface that may tempt you to want to feel it with your hands. It is painted with lacquer which may get damaged by the oil on our hands, so let’s protect it by not touching the lacquered part of the floor (=゚ω゚)ノ.

You might notice the buildings are Chinese in style, and there is a good reason for it. The lectures delivered at this school were from Confucianism, a philosophy that focuses on the importance of personal ethics and morality. Located in a quiet natural spot away from the hustle and bustle, it is no wonder that many students who graduated from the school made some big achievements in their lifetimes!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Shizutani School?

The school is also a spot known for its beautiful autumn foliage. So if you plan to come on weekends and public holidays from early to mid-November, our advice is to utilize public transport.

In early spring, from mid to late March, you will get some gorgeous plum blossom scenery with traditional buildings as backdrops. Just as the plum blossom season ends, like running a relay, the baton is passed to the cherry blossoms, which bloom from late March to early April.

The Tsubakiyama (椿山) or Camellia Hill on one side of the school grounds has around 400 camellias planted on both sides of the path leading to Ikeda Mitsumasa’s burial mound. The trees are now so big that it is basically a tunnel of Camellias!

If you love camellia flowers, plan your next visit from winter to early spring. Your best photo opportunities should be from February to early March (^_-)-☆.

You can always refer to the school map HERE to better understand what to expect when you are there!

Ⓒ Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Tip: If you understand Japanese, refer to HERE for Shizutani School guided tour options.

Shizutani School’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • Shizutani School is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm except between the 29th to the 31st of December.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 100 yen for elementary and junior high school students
    • 200 yen for elderly who are 65 years and above
  • You can take a bus from JR Yoshinaga Station (吉永駅) or JR Bizen-Katakami Station (備前片上駅) and get off at Shizutani School (旧閑谷学校).
    • HERE is the timetable for the bus timetable. The pdf link is located towards the end of the web page. Look for the words “こちら”.
    • 平日のみ運行 = The service only operates on weekdays.
    • 土曜のみ運行 = The service only operates on Saturdays and won’t operate if the Saturday falls on a public holiday.
    • You can also use one of Japan’s Transport Apps to plan your visit.

Discover Other Amazing Attractions in Bizen City

A couple more attractions are worth your time in Bizen City, where Hattoji Furusato Village is located. The city is known as one of the six oldest kilns in Japan. There is a shrine that is mostly decorated with locally produced ceramics! And, if that isn’t enough to impress you, how about a shrine where they deified cows to worship as gods? When you pay homage, you throw little calves into the “donation box” instead of throwing money!

For more information, please refer to our article on Bizen City!

Click the photo to find out more about this scenic spot!

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