Along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, and Kairakuen in Mito, Okayama’s Korakuen is a circuit style garden representative of the Edo period and is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan. If you visit Okayama, it’s a spot definitely worth stopping by.
To get to the main entrance of Korakuen garden, cross the Asahi River via Tsurumi Bridge.
Created around 300 years ago by Okayama domain’s second feudal lord, Ikeda Tsunamasa, the garden was built as a place to relax. If you walk around slowly, you can feel the seasonal changes up close.
Located in the center of the park, Sawa-no-Ike is the garden’s largest pond. Apparently, the water that feeds the garden’s ponds was once drawn from Asahi River.
No matter where you take a photograph, the garden scenery is like a painting.
Beyond the trees, you can see the beautiful Okayama Castle, or Crow Castle as it’s also known, with its dark exterior.
This small artificial mound called Yuishinzan Hill was created during the time of Ikeda Tsunamasa’s son, Tsugumasa. After it was finished, the elevated location offered a panoramic view over the whole garden, which could previously only be admired from tatami rooms.
By admiring the flowering trees planted on the slope, one was then able to enjoy 3D scenery. When in season, the azaleas and satsuki azaleas that have been planted on the slope color it with red and white flowers.
Climbing Yuishinzan Hill offers a panoramic view of the whole park. Three islands, each with its own particular charm, can be seen floating in Sawa-no-ike pond. From the right, with its teahouse, is Naka-no-shima Island, next is Mino-shima with its fishing palace, and finally Jarijima has beautiful white sand and green pine trees.
And then, with a waterway passing through the middle, there is this exceptional building called Ryuten, which was apparently used as a resting place by the feudal lord. The building’s wall-less architectural style that allows the wind to pass through is rare in Japan. Ryuten is one of the few structures that evaded damage during the war.
Sit down on the wooden floor for a good break and enjoy the same sensation as the feudal lord!
Just like Ryuten, Renchiken, too, is a precious building that escaped war damage. It is said that the feudal lord used the building as a place for resting, eating meals and drinking tea. Be sure not to miss it!
Taking your time walking around the vast 13+ hectare (132,000 square meters) site, it’s easy to forget that the garden is located right near the town area. The way you see the scenery changes according to the season’s flowers such as cherry blossoms in spring, wisteria and Japanese iris in early summer, and the colorful foliage of autumn.
One of the garden’s charms is that no matter how many times you visit, you won’t grow tired of it.
From autumn to winter, the garden is filled with more subdued hues, but from spring through summer, the grounds are brightly colored with pink cherry blossoms, the radiant green of new grass, as well as azaleas and satsuki azaleas blooming in multiple colors.
Come visit Okayama Korakuen Garden to discover the various seasonal colors.
Address: 1-5 Korakuen, Kita-ku, Okayama city, Okayama prefecture
Open: March 20th – September 20th 7.30-18.00 (Entrance until 17.45)
October 1st – March 19th 8.00-17.00 (Entrance until 16.45)
Closed: Open everyday
Admission: Adults JPY400, Children (Elementary & Middle School Students) JPY140, Seniors (65 & over) JPY140
Access: 10 minutes walk from Okayama Electric Tramway Higashiyama Line Shiroshita station
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