Okayama Korakuen: From Structures to Creatures
If someone will ask me what to check out in Okayama, the first thing I would suggest would be to visit Okayama Korakuen. Aside from its easy access, its scenic spots will bring you relaxation and peace of mind away from a hectic life. The garden is surrounded by tall trees that being there would make you feel like you are far away from the city center even though you are just right in it.
As already mentioned in our previous post, “Koraku-en Garden by day, Fantasy Garden by night,” Okayama Korakuen is one of the “Three Great Gardens in Japan.” Not only that, it is also featured in Michelin Green Guide Japan guidebook and has been given three stars (top) rating.
The garden was called in different names. One of them is “Kouen,” means back garden, as it is located at the back of the Okayama Castle. But later on changed to “Korakuen” and to its present official name “Okayama Korakuen.”
Things to See Inside Okayama Korakuen
There are many things to check out inside the garden. Just look at these numbers:
- Four (4) rest houses
- Two (2) tea houses
- Six (6) shrines
- Three (3) halls
- One (1) pavilion
- One (1) guest house
- Three (3) hills
- Two (2) islands
- Three (3) ponds
- Groves, flower gardens, rice field, tea plantation and many more
Here’s a highlight of different spots you can find inside Okayama Korakuen. I’ll leave the rest for you to check out when you visit the place.
Renchi-ken Tea House
Odate-ishi (stone) and lotus plants
Cherry Blossom Trees
What to enjoy for every season
There are many events being held all-year-round in the garden. To name a few:
– cherry blossom viewing
– lotus flower viewing, fireworks & light-up, moon viewing
– autumn leaves viewing, Noh (a form of traditional Japanese theater) performances
– Koto (a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument) concert, Japanese crane watching
You can find different kinds of trees and flowers that you can enjoy in different seasons. There are ume (Japanese plum) trees which blossom first before cherry blossom trees. Many people visit Okayama Korakuen during this season for picnic. Grounds nearby the trees, which are usually restricted, are opened, allowing visitors to lie down under the trees and relax.
During summer, a yearly fireworks event is being held nearby the perimeter. One of the good locations to watch it is from inside the garden as during this season that light-up event is also going on.
To get the full list of yearly events, check it here.
Animals in the garden
Not only traditional structures, ponds, or trees can be seen in Okayama Korakuen, but also animals.
“Tanchou” or Japanese crane
There’s a crane aviary where you can find “タンチョウ”, read as “tanchou”. It’s a red-crowned crane or Japanese crane. Most of the time, they are kept inside the aviary. But few months before year end, they are released and trained for New Year’s Day event.
As you walk around the garden, you might be surprised to hear a sound of a cow. You might think that it’s just your imagination. But then, you’ll hear it once again. I can assure you, there is no cow in the garden. The sound is actually made by an “ushi-gaeru”, an American bullfrog. A vast area of ponds and fields is such a desirable environment for this creature.
One thing I noticed in Japanese gardens and ponds is the existence of koi fishes, and Okayama Korakuen is not an exception of this. You’ll find a large number of them, in huge size and different color patterns. You can buy fish feeds from a nearby shop for 50 yen. You’ll be amazed when they gather together. The picture below only shows some of them.
To know more about the shops and other services in Okayama Korakuen, check the continuation of this post.
Here’s a time-lapse video of the garden.
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