Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Travel Guide: Okayama

Okayama was on my itinerary during my return trip to Kansai, I was unable to go last time because of time constraints. However, this trip I made sure to finally visit the city and its nearby attractions. It was only a day trip, but it gave me a glimpse of what else to expect, if ever I decide to return.


Travel Guide

Okayama is second only to Hiroshima as the biggest city in Chugoku. As the capital of Okayama Prefecture, it serves as a major transportation hub because this is the place where the Sanyo Shinkansen links with the only connection by train to Shikoku.

Places to Visit

I only went to a couple of places which include:

Okayama Castle


The castle is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city. Okayama used to be an affluent and influential castle town in the region. Also known as 'crow castle' because of its majestic black color, it was built in 1597.




The castle was completely destroyed during World War II, what you'll see now is a reconstruction built in the 1960s.




Honestly, the inside was nothing special, there are exhibits about the castle's history. If you're not that interested, don't bother entering.

Entrance Fee: JPY300 and JPY800 if there are special exhibits inside, you can also purchase a combo ticket which also includes Koraku-en for JPY560.

How to Get to Okayama Castle

Board a train from Shin-Osaka bound for Okayama or Hakata, alight at Okayama Station. From the latter, you an walk for up to 30 minutes or board a bus on the Higashiyama Line and alight at Shiroshita for JPY100. From Shiroshita, you can walk to the castle.

Koraku-en


Koraku-en is one of the best landscape gardens in Japan, the other two are in Mito and Kanazawa. This green space is the main attraction of Okayama. It deserves this recognition because of its beautiful garden and borrowed view of the castle nearby.




The feudal lord at the time had the garden built in 1687 where he can entertain important guests. Koraku-en was destroyed in the war, but was restored to its former state





The garden is a good place to go on leisurely strolls outside the bustling city.

Entrance Fee: JPY400 just for the garden and JPY560 for the combo ticket.

How to Get to Koraku-en

From Okayama Station, you can either walk or take the bus on the Higashiyama Line and alight at Shiroshita stop, the fare is JPY100.

Kurashiki


I had extra time to add Bikan Historical Quarter to my itinerary. The old town reminded me of the canal towns in China specifically Shanghai and Suzhou.





The canal area is centuries old, dating all the way back to the Edo Period. There are nice restored houses turned into shops. It was a good leisurely walk to end the day.





How to Get to Kurashiki's Bikan Historical Quarter

From Okayama Station, change to the JR Sanyo Line and board any rapid or local train bound for Kurashiki. The trip is only 15 minutes and costs around JPY320. From Kurashiki Station, the Bikan Historical Quarter is only a couple of minutes walk.

Getting Around

There are regular buses that depart from the train station, but most major attractions are within walking distance (up to 30 minutes). I walked everywhere since I had plenty of time to spare.

How to Get to Okayama



From Shin-Osaka, board a train (I took the Shinkansen) bound for either Hakata or Okayama. Alight at Okayama Station. I used the JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass to get here. You can buy one online or through a travel agency such as Earth Explorers Travel and Tours.



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