A visit to the Okayama Prefecture would not be complete without a stopover at Okayama Castle, nicknamed Crow Castle because of its black exterior. One other castle, Matsumoto Castle, located in Nagano Prefecture has a black exterior and also bears the nickname Crow Castle. Constructed in 1597, the original castle was destroyed during World War II. The current castle is a concrete reconstruction, which was completed in 1966. Two of the watch towers, which survived the bombing of 1945, are now listed by the National Agency for Cultural Affairs as Important Cultural Properties. In 1996, as part of the castle’s 400th anniversary celebrations, the castle’s rooftop gargoyles were gilded. The castle is air conditioned and has elevators which make it easy to navigate.
Okayama Castle is located on the Asahi River, which was once used as a moat. Korakuen Garden, one of the top three gardens in Japan, is located just across the river. The main building of Okayama Castle is six stories tall. The interior of the main building is rather modern and displays exhibits on the history and development of the castle. On the castle grounds, you will find other reconstructed buildings and unearthed foundations which help give one a sense of the former extent of the castle’s complex of buildings.
The castle is open from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM daily. (Except for Dec. 29-31) Admission is ¥800 for those 15 years of age or older and ¥120 for children aged 6-14. It is easily accessible via the Sanyo Line. Get off at Okayama Station and the castle is merely 20-minutes on foot or just 10-minutes by bus.
Since Korakuen Garden is so close, why not combine a visit to the castle and the garden and enjoy the majestic remnants of feudal Japan in Okayama City.
Photo Credits: Moritoshi Inaba