Okayama Pt 1: See & Do

My good friend was visiting Japan and, since I live in the middle of nowhere, I sort of randomly picked an accessible, not too expensive in train fare, meeting spot: Okayama. What a lucky random choice! o(^▽^)o Read on OR skip the text and watch our travel video.

*** I’ve got so much to share I couldn’t possibly do one post, so I’ve split it in two with food in Pt 2. ***

Okayama castle

Monday – Sunday 9AM – 5:30PM

2 Chome-3-1 Marunouchi, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama-ken 700-0823

Also known as Crow Castle, it’s a striking black and gold edifice, unlike your regular white castles. Sure it was destroyed in 1945 (like everything else!) but its replica is apparently #onpoint, since the original blueprints were used. Bonus free kimono photoshoots are available on the second floor.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, tree, cloud, outdoor, nature and waterKorakuen garden

Monday – Sunday 7:30AM – 6PM

1-5 Kōrakuen, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama-ken 703-8257

Not gonna lie… day 1 we decide to skip this… 400¥, are you crazy! Ya, we were just THAT stingy. But then we spent 1700¥ on a parfait so, we re-evaluated our life choices. Cough up that 400¥, it’s worth it! Dating from 1700, it hasn’t changed since the Edo era; waterfalls, tiny shrines, teahouses, miniature maple forests, a lotus pond, and rare red-crested white cranes. But the BEST feature? The nameless (as far as I can tell) teahouse that has DECADENT parfaits!

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, outdoor and natureImage may contain: sky, tree, outdoor, nature and waterScenic bike rides

If you check Wikitravel, it’ll recommend doing a scenic 17 km Kibiji cycling trail. We did it and it was AWESOME… we also got lost at night time and needed the help of lovely 7/11 ladies BUT we made it home in one piece! Having survived the trail, here are my words of wisdom:

  1. Start at Soja and finish at Bizen if you’re based in Okayama, makes getting home faster. Basically, do the trail backwards.
  2. Make this a day trip. Yaaaaa you can do it in half a day BUT you’ll enjoy stopping at shrines a lot more if you’re not worried about getting the bike back in time.
  3. There are signs for the biking trail… most of the way? Sometimes the signs just drop off… which is lovely. Pull out that fully charged mobile and get back on track!

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and waterImage may contain: sky, tree, grass, outdoor and natureKurashiki area

Only 10 minutes away by train, the main draw is the Bikan Historical Quarter. Honestly, it’s like stepping back in time and being suspended in a nostalgic bubble! The streets are cobble stone and the weeping willows lining the canal make for a scenic half day excursion. It’s also where you can find delicious fruit parfait, but more of that in Pt 2! Check out Ohashi house while you’re there, a typical wealthy merchant town house with tatami floored rooms, elegant sliding doors and hanging scrolls.

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, sky, tree and outdoorOkayama, initially a random choice, turned out to be a hell of a 4 day weekend! It’s also a great base to explore Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

BUT Estelle… what… what about the food!? Pfffffff as if I could forget. Get yourself to Pt 2!

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