The Okayama Prefectural Museum is a great museum with a variety of ancient artifacts from throughout the prefecture. Much of modern Okayama was once part of the Kibi nation, one of Japan's oldest civilizations. Each room displays a different time period. The oldest artifacts are mammoth fossils and ancient tools and pottery from the stone age, but artifacts from the Jomon, Yayoi/Kofun, Nara, and Heian periods are on display. Exhibits include Buddhist sculptures and statues, samurai suits, paintings, historical documents, old currencies, and swords among other things.
Swords produced in Okayama have been famous for their quality since ancient times, because the region was a large producer of iron and had an abundance of pine and acorn, which were used to make the swords. Particularly Bizen swords are known for being some of Japan's best.
The Bizen pottery is also very famous in Japan and comes from Okayama. It was highly valued in the Kamakura and Muromachi Periods, and even today Bizen pottery remains famous (and expensive). The museum has a nice display of ancient Bizen swords and pottery.
I found the display of the ancient currencies to be really interesting. The currencies are from various cities throughout the prefecture that used to be part of independent kingdoms. Although this is a prefectural museum, the artifacts on display are also great representations of Japanese history as a whole, because Okayama has historically been an important area of the country.
The entrance fee is surprisingly only 200 yen. It's extremely cheap, so I highly recommend visiting! It should take about 1-1.5 hours to see the entire museum. Wheelchairs are available.
The museum building was originally part of the Ninomaru annex of Okayama Castle and was used as a guesthouse in the Edo Period. During the Meiji Period, Lord Ikeda used it as his administrative headquarters, and it officially became a museum in 1964 at the wishes of Ichiro Hayashibara, who it is named after.
Hayashibara inherited his grandfather's company, which produced starch syrup, and he expanded the company. With the wealth he gained from the company, he was able to pursue his interest in collecting artwork, and it is this collection that is displayed in the museum today.
Most of the collection dates back to the Edo Period. Anyone interested in Japanese calligraphy and scrolls should enjoy this museum. Aside from these, there are also clothing, pottery, swords, and a samurai suit among other things. The collection is large, so they do change the exhibits throughout the year.
The museum is relatively small however, the entrance fee is only 300 yen, so it's not unreasonable. It takes about 30 minutes to see, and it's closed on Mondays.
There are thousand rose from several types and several places in the world. It is very good park for pleasure.
From the website, you can see the flower blooming (update everyday).
Opening hour: 9.30-17.00, closed every wed. Entrance fee 600 yen for adult, 300 yen for junior & senior high school student, 200 yen for child above 3 years old.
Tokoen was built sometime at the beginning of the 17th century and has remained here since that time, making it the oldest garden in Okayama. It was built as a private villa for relaxation by Tadakatsu Ikeda, head of the Ikeda clan that once ruled over Bizen (the southern portion of Okayama Prefecture). Later it became the residence of a feudal lord.
Today it is privately owned and maintained. It consists of a large central pond with walkways along the outer edge. The historic villa buildings are here as well and the best views are of the villa from the opposite side. The view from the villa is also nice.
Entrance is 400 yen. Some visitors may think that this is too much considering it is the same as the entrance fee to Korakuen which is much larger and more famous however, keep in mind that because it is privately owned, the family that owns it relies on these funds to maintain the garden. I visited in the fall, but I think that summer is probably the best season for Tokoen.
Yumeji Takehisa was an Okayama native born in 1884 most known for his paintings of bijin (beautiful women). He did not have any formal education in art or painting and he is known for his quote, "Enough of artists!" a response to the idea that an artist needed to fit into a certain mold and that his art had to follow certain rules in order to be "good" art. Not surprisingly, he was not popular among the art critics of his time, but he was well-liked among the common people.
Even though he had no training, he studied art on his own and was influenced by European modernist art and combined it with Japanese style to create art that is uniquely his. The faces of the women in his paintings are long but soft and the eyes in particular convey introspective emotions that I think are easy for the viewer to feel. Because of his unique style, it is easy to identify his bijin art.
Although he is most famous for his paintings of women, he actually has a diverse range of artwork. The museum features rough sketches, book covers painted by him, art showcasing various interests and facets of his talent, and of course, his paintings of women. It seems that the more of his art that you see, the more you want to see! Indeed, it's an excellent museum, and Yumeji Takehisa's fame and popularity has actually grown in recent years as the Japanese rediscover this great modern artist.
Entrance is 700 yen.
Busshinji Temple was built in 1714 by the wishes of Ikeda Tsunamasa's sister. The Ikeda crest is located on the temple's roof tiles. The temple's garden is surprisingly large and quite beautiful. There are two ponds, one filled with lillies and the other is overlooked by a rest house. The temple is located up on a hill in what is now a residential area, so it's very peaceful and serene.
Hiruzen is located in the northern part of Okayama Prefecture. It is the plateau spot of the quasi-national park. There are the rows of poplar trees of and white birches. You can see grand three mountains. This plateau is setting adrift a new pastoral atmosphere of the Europe style even in Japan.
Although there is how to enjoy each four seasons, a camp can be enjoyed in summer and skiing can be enjoyed in winter.
You will be pleasant to travel the neighborhood by the Rent-cycle, and there is also a tennis court.
It is famous also for a "hot spring" here. There is a natural large bathroom.
There are also some lodgings and it can also come into contact with people local area, the history and culture, besides rich natural environment.
There's enough there with the garden, castle and museums all in the same area to justify spending a day there. The garden is great, although I never could accept the idea that there should be an elevator in the castle!
OK, this is just an amusement park, but it's really fun. I might not have gone 'cept it was the place of employment of the friend I was visiting at the time. I was glad I went though. It is clean and fun and everyone there seems to be having a good time. The park is themed around Denmark and it's really cute. I highly recommend the musical. This is the Hans Christian Anderson Statue in the park.
Gokoku Shrines can be found throughout the nation. They are in fact "national shrines" and they all have the same purpose; to pray for those who have died in wars. Some of these shrines are dedicated to specific wars but many are dedicated to all war dead. Unfortunately, these shrines can sometimes be unwelcoming to foreigners, because they tend to attract nationalists who dislike foreigners. They're not violent, but they're also not friendly. They also attract normal veterans and people who lost loved ones in wars, so it should not be assumed that every visitor to such shrines are here for the same reason.
Okayama's Gokoku Shrine was first built in 1869 but it was not called a Gokoku Shrine until 1895. Since then, many monuments have been built within and just outside the shrine grounds. A lot of them were built/donated by various veteran groups from World War II. Outside the shrine on the road leading to it there is a monument dedicated to members of the Japanese Navy who died in the war.
The Kibiji Literary Museum features exhibits related to writers, authors, and poets from Okayama Prefecture. For those who are familiar with Japanese authors and literature, the museum may be of interest but admittedly, most foreign visitors will probably not be able to appreciate the museum. Although I love Okayama, even I had never planned to visit this museum. I came when I saw a flyer advertising the museum's special exhibit of Yumeji Takehisa's works. Although he is an artist, he also had writings and made art for book covers. I came to see his art, so it ended up being worthwhile for me to come.
There is a small but nice little garden within the museum as well.
Entrance is 400 yen.
The RSK Rose Garden features a large number of roses blooming from the end of May through November. Other flowering plants can also be found in the garden, like azaleas, wisteria, hydrangeas, tulips, etc. but since it is a rose garden, it's best to come when the roses are in bloom. I, unfortunately, was there a little early so the roses hadn't started blooming, although the azaleas were in full bloom.
The largest part of the garden (the roses) is set up in a circular fashion with rings of roses separated by pathways. Many of the other flowers are located in the far end outside of the circle.
Entrance is 600 yen.
This is one of the sites in the Kibi Plains (Kibiji District) related to the legend of Prince Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto (the tale that the famous folktale Momotaro is said to have been derived from).
The battle between the prince and the ogre took place from afar. The ogre (oni) named Ura lived in Kinojo and threw boulders at the prince, while the prince shot arrows at Ura from the Kibi Plains. The arrows and boulders collided and are said to have landed here. You can still see the boulders around the shrine here. Some say the arrows grew into the bamboo that is also here.
The Yagui no Miya is located in a small park on the side of the highway (Route 180), so those traveling on the Kibiji Cycling Trail will have to leave the cycling path to reach here.
Sometimes called the Ruins of Takamatsujo Castle in order to distinguish it from the more well-known Takamatsu Castle in Takamatsu City, while not much remains here, what happened here is quite impressive.
Takamatsu Castle was built by the Ishikawa Clan but later taken over by the Mori Clan. It was during the Mori Clan's rule with Shimizu Munehara as the castle lord that the famous flooding of the castle occurred. It was built in the Kibi Plains, which is very flat. When Hideyoshi Toyotomi came to overtake the castle, instead of direct combat, he had canals and dikes built to divert the Ashimori River into the plains to flood the castle. With no way to get resources, call for help, or escape Shimizu Munehara was forced to surrender by committing seppuku.
The castle was sadly decommissioned during the Meiji Period. What remains are remnants of the moats, many monuments, and an excavated section of one of the canals. You can also see the spot where Munehara committed suicide. There is also a nice building at the castle site with artifacts and information. Everything is free to see.
During the Edo Period, this was the home of Sugihara from the Ashimori Clan who ruled Bit'chu Province. He was the chief retainer of the Ashimori. Today you can walk around the grounds of the building and look inside. You cannot roam around inside the residence but the outside doors are open so that you can see everything inside, including many artifacts placed where they would have been when Sugihara lived here.
The grounds also feature a small garden. The building has been designated an Important Cultural Property by Okayama Prefecture.
You can enter and walk around the house for free. If you'd like to make a donation, the pamphlets about the house ask you to give just 50 yen to take one.
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