Sunday, February 5, 2017

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Okayama Castle 岡山城

Visited 16.04.2015 (Thu)
Number of castles visited to date: 5
Top 100 castles in Japan: #70

Crow castle. Today's plan was to pay tribute to two most iconic landmarks of Okayama city - Okayama Castle 岡山城 and Korakuen 後楽園. From Jo-shita Electric Tramway Station, we followed the signage and walked along the river bank of Asahigawa 旭川 before spotting a shiny, black Tenshukaku 天守閣 standing elegantly from afar. Because of the black appearance of the Tenshukaku (otherwise known as the castle keep), Okayama Castle was given the nickname of "Crow Castle 烏城". Together with Korakuen, the whole castle and the ruins of the former castle were officially recognised as a national historic site on 30 May 1987.

Spotted the castle on the right while strolling along the river bank of Asahigawa. The bridge connects Okayama Castle to Korakuen.

Irregular pentagon base of Tenshukaku.
Background / Highlights:

- Okayama Castle completed construction in 1597 after eight years of workmanship.

- The original Tenshukaku was burnt down on 29 June 1945 by an air raid during WWII. The current one was reconstructed in 1966 using reinforced concrete and looked almost the same as its original form. Another unique feature of Tenshukaku is its base is actually an irregular pentagon and it is especially obvious if you see the shape of the stone walls from behind.

- The only building in the central area which escaped the air raid was Tsukimi yagura 月見櫓, the turret for moon watching, located on the northwest corner of the castle, so do keep a lookout for this longest surviving structure since 1620. Sadly, I only realised it when writing this blog entry and could not find any associated photos of Tsukimi yagura in my photo collection.

-  Akazu no mon 不明の門 (Unopened Gate) is another reconstructed structure which visitors will have to pass through to get from Omotesho-in (表書院) to Hondan (本段), the highest terrain in the castle compound and where Tenshukaku is located in.

Beautiful gold painted Shachi.

Korakuen and Asahigawa seen from the highest level of Tenshukaku.
- This is the first Tenshukaku I came across which is in built with a lift. The Tenshukaku is about six storey tall and the lift serves the first four storey. In the modern world, the top level of a castle keep has transformed to an observatory, allowing visitors to capture an excellent and unobstructed view of its surrounding. If you look out towards North, Korakuen and Asahigawa can be seen clearly from here. When peering out from the windows at the fifth storey, admire the gold painted Shachi (鯱), an ornament depicting a mystical animal which has the head of a tiger and body of a carp, attached onto the roofs. It is believed that adorning the roofs of castles and temples with Shachi will protect the buildings from fire. This was the first time I come across a gold painted Shachi and it stood out more brilliantly than usual, on the roof of the black coloured castle.


Okayama Castle 岡山城
〒700-0823 岡山県岡山市北区丸の内2-3-1
Opening hours: 0900 - 1730 hrs (Last entry at 1700 hrs)
Entrance fee = 300 yen; Combined ticket with Korakuen = 560 yen

How to get there? 

(1) By Okayama Electric Tramway 岡山電気軌道
From Okayama Ekimae Station (岡山駅前), board the electric tram on Higashiyama line (東山線) and alight at Jo-shita station (城下駅). From here, it takes another 7 mins to walk to Okayama Castle.

(2) By Okaden Bus 岡電バス
From Okayama JR Station East Exit Bus Terminal Platform 9, board Okaden Bus 岡電バス for Okaden Takaya 岡電高屋 and alight at Kencho mae 県庁前. From here, it takes another 5 mins to walk to Okayama Castle.
Bus schedule:


Commemorative stamps:

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