Okayama Castle – a Nature Lover’s Castle
Okayama Castle is a beautiful castle in Okayama Prefecture and somewhat off the tourist trail. Read on for all the vital info.
Probably one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, Okayama Castle is also known as U-jo (烏城 lit. Bird Castle) due to its predominantly crow-like black exterior. Not to be confused with Matsumoto Castle, also black and also named after a black bird. Okayama Castle is situated in Okayama Prefecture in the southern part of the main island of Honshu. Okayama Prefecture is well-known for its castle as well as its abundance of nature. As of 2014, an impressive 11% of the approx. 7,000 square kilometers of the prefecture has been declared national parks or reserves.
The castle’s beautifully decorated facade, the greenery of the Asahi riverbank and the adjoining Korakuen gardens make this an extremely peaceful castle.
Want more castles? Check our article Japan Castles – The 15 Best Japanese Castles
About Okayama Castle
The castle was built in 1573 by the feudal lord Ukita Naoie, though the main tower was not completed until 1597. In 1603, the castle became the property of the Ikeda Family, the lords of Okayama. The Ikeda clan were long-time owners of Okayama Castle and added the adjacent Kourakuen (後楽園 Kouraku Gardens) as private gardens for the castle inhabitants. They held onto ownership until it passed to the Meiji Government in 1869, just one year after the Meiji Restoration unified the country after a long period of feudal fragmentation.
The bombs of WWII left the castle, particularly the main tower, in dire need of repair, which was eventually completed in 1966. Two watch towers that miraculously survived the bombing have now been declared Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese state.
Further Info and Events
There are plenty of events and festivals held at Okayama Castle throughout the year. Be sure to check out the events schedule and get involved if you can.
One of the best festivals that engulfs the whole of Okayama city is the Momotaro Festival, a celebration of the legend of Momotaro (peach boy), a traditional story about a boy who came to earth in a peach and fought demons.
There are also several cultural experiences you can try out at Okayama Castle. Check the link below for more information.
Mon – Sun
9:00 am- 5:30 pm
closed over New Years (12/29 – 12/31)
adult 300 yen
child 120 yen (6 to 14 years old)
The closest stops with public transport are Shiroshita Station and Kenchodori Station, five minutes from JR Okayama Station by streetcar. Simply board the tram heading toward Higashiyama and get off at either of the stops above.
Should you fancy a walk through Okayama city, from Okayama Station the castle is a 20-minute walk away.