Okayama Castle, also known as U-jo (“Crow Castle”) because of the black color of its walls, was constructed by the feudal lord Ukita Hideie under the direction of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and was completed in 1597. Like so many other structures in Japan, it “was burnt to the ground on the 29th of June, 1945 by an air raid in the Second World War.” The present keep was rebuilt in 1966 using reinforced concrete. While the Tsukimi Yagura (“Turret for Moon-Viewing”) did avoid destruction and is original, the castle itself has a modern interior and the historical displays are only halfway interesting. But who cares, right? It’s a castle. And you’re only paying 500 yen to get in. Your 500 yen gets you an elevator ride straight to the top floor where you get a nice view of Korakuen on one side, and the city of Okayama on the other. And you get to come face to face with what I like to call the “golden grampus,” rooftop fish-demons that are supposed to guarantee rain (at least, I think that’s what they’re supposed to do).

And rain it did! In fact, by the time Lea and I walked from Okayama Station to the castle, our pants and shoes were soaked. Luckily, the shinkansen ride from Osaka to Okayama is fast and relaxing, so we had plenty of energy left to brave the cold and damp.

The main entrance to the donjon. Once inside you can buy souvenirs and sweets.

Beware the grampus.


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