Land of Sunshine

Land of Sunshine

Okayama (often called the “Land of Sunshine”) is a major transportation hub where the Shinkansen connects with they only train connection to the island of Shikoku. Its climate is warm enough throughout the year to grow olive trees. The major attractions include Okayama Castle and Korakuen.

Okayama Castle: Constructed in 1597 and destroyed by bombing in World War II; it was reconstructed in 1966.

Korakuen: one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Built in 1700 and reached its modern form in 1863.

Our hotel room was at the station hub of the Okayama Electric Tramway network (3.8 km; one of the shortest tram lines in Japan) and it was fun looking out the window to see the different tramcar designs. One is even for kids, using children songs and music. Japan knows how to make it fun and interesting to use the public transportation (not just for long distance trains but alsotheir subways and buses) and the locals have huge respect for their system. It is clean and safe. People rarely sip water or liquids on board. People talk in hushed tone. (Loud conversation tends to be foreign visitors.) No phone call or ringtones. No trash lying around. On high speed trains on longer journeys across the country, people do consume food and often it is in bento boxes. It is a joy for us to use the system. 

We often arrive at our next destination around lunchtime and frequently, the check-in time is 3 pm (sometimes 2 pm); so the hotel would hold our luggage and we would go for lunch. Lunch set is usually the best option. (100 yen = $1.00)
One finds this at some entrances (others are tablets at the table or the old-fashioned method): pick what you want and pay at the machine. Then give the ticket to the server. Easy since there is no tipping in Japan. What you see on the screen is your actual payment. Tax is included in the price. If there are two prices for an item, then the top one is the price before tax. This depends on the vendor. Often, it is just one price.
Here comes lunch. Efficient and fast system.
Momotaro (a boy born from a peach) with his trusty dog, monkey, and pheasant. Based on a Japanese fable in Okayama. Statue in front of the Okayama train station.
Romen Densha (electric streetcar or tram): one of the many designs. The tramcar network opened in 1910
On Friday night, they have a two-hour wine and food streetcar, showing the parts of Okayama.
Based on a television show, Chuggington; blue for Brewster and red for Wilson. Shoes are not allowed on board in this one.
Okayama Castle, known as the Black Crow Castle, and the Asahi River.
The castle is illuminated at certain times of the evening, displaying different coloured lighting.
Nishigawa Canal Park: the canal runs through the city and is lined with flowers, cherry trees, and sculptures with benches to sit and enjoy. A pleasant place to walk especially in cherry blossom season.
Magnolia liliflora Desr.
At a local community park on one of side streets (cherry blossoms in bloom)
At the main gate entrance to Korakuen Garden
Enyo-tei House: a place to receive the daimyos when they visited the Korakuen Garden
Taking a break in the garden: having matcha and Japanese sweets
View to the Sawa-no-ike pond and cherry blossom grove
Visitors enjoy the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Okayama Castle and Korakuen Gardens

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