Okayama Castle, also known as Ujo (Crow Castle) for its black color is a beautiful "masculine" castle, contrasting "feminine" white castles, such as Himeji Castle.
Although the current castle was reconstructed in 1966, there are a few things about Okayama Castle that place it a step above most other reconstructions. Most reconstructions are built only using pictures of the original castle, so they only vaguely resemble the original. Okayama Castle however, was built using the original blueprints, so the outside of the castle is a very accurate recreation of the original.
The moon-viewing turret (Tsukimi-Yagura) actually survived the bombings, so it is part of the original castle, dating back to 1620. During certain evenings in September, they open the turret for visitors to go inside and view the moon. The foundation stones from the original castle are layed out near the castle, as well. You can see both the turret and stones for free, because they are located outside of the actual castle.
Inside the castle, there are artifacts and information about the original castle. You can also dress up in traditional garbs to get a cheesy picture taken for free (the room they do this in was actually the seppuku room, although no suicides took place in Okayama Castle). You can get an English-speaking tour guide to take you through the castle if there are volunteers there. I did this, and my guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Okayama Castle and its history. The guides do not cost extra.
The entrance fee for the castle is 300 yen.
The castle has originally been built in 1597 but it was destroyed during WW II. It was finally reconstructed in 1966. It is also called Crow Castle due to its black colour.
Entry fee applies. But you can walk in the castle yard for free.
Here is the standout from the pack - it's black!!
Ok not the definitive castle but really quite nice.
Here there are some of the friendliest and most helpful volunteer guides we met
They didn't limit themselves just to the castle whipping out maps of the district
And dispensing great information and advice to all.
On the Obsevation deck a good close up view of the Sachi can be found.
These are part fish, part monster - being fish they can suck up lots of water
and then they spray it all over any fires that break out.
Really cool - magic sprinklers and they are on nearly every castle and major building.
-(although it seems 90% of these building were rebuilt after a big fire hmmmmmm....)
Enjoy this Castle at a sedate pace while you can - it is the most peaceful and uncrowded we found
(oops bar one we'll tell you about later)
Yes there is an elevator but most castles have them - so older persons can enjoy them too
Definately stop in on this one and have a look - then on to the gardens
Just a little walk from Korakoen. Entrance fee is about 300 yen (I'm not sure because it is free for foreign student). Inside the castle you can try to use 'kimono' the japanese traditional cloth, free-no charge, but only 5 people in every hour until 4 pm. If at that hour there are 5 people already, you must register for the next hour. You also can take your picture using kimono freelly in that area.
Okayam-jo is a recunstruction of the original castle on this site, but it's still pretty cool. I think it's pretty unique amongst castles in Japan although I know very little about it. I thought it was pretty cool though. It's nice to look at from the outside, but I have to say, if you don't read Japanese, the interior leaves a little to be desired.
Okayama Castle is a beautiful black castle located next to the lovely Asahi River which was once its moat. Because of its black colour Okayama Castle is also called Ujo or Crow Castle.
Okayama Castle was constructed by a powerful Japanese feudal leader Ukita Naoie and his son, Hideie. The main tower of the castle was originally completed in 1597. This tower was sadly completely destroyed in a bombing raid in 1945. Reconstruction of this six storey high structure was completed in 1966. Only one of Okayama Castle's original buildings escaped destruction in the second world war- the Tsukimi Yagura, or moon viewing turret, which dates back to 1620.
Korakuen Gardens were added to the castle as private gardens.They are located near the castle on the other side of the Asahi River.
Okayama castle is about a 15 minute walk or so from the main train station, but I was surprised to see an elevator inside. Rather incongruous if you ask me.