Korakuen Park is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan located in the city of Okayama. The garden dates back to 1700 when Lord Ikeda Tsunamasa had it built. The gardens were used to entertain important guests such as Feudal Lords but was used by ordinary people on certain days.
The gardens like many set in Japan are perfect for strolling along the paths and cover over 133,000 sq metres like many landscaped gardens in Japan the garden features ponds full of koi,streams,paths and a hill that can be used as a viewing point. An unusual feature of the garden for Japan is the use of expansive lawn.
The best season to visit
Like most gardens the best time to visit is Spring when the flowers are flowering. From early April it is cherry blossom season and the light pink blossoms cover the trees to leave a lasting impression on your visit. From early March trees with a darker pink blossom can be seen not as beautiful as the cherry blossoms but still worth seeing these are the flowers from the plum trees which were in bloom when we visited. Maple, tea and rice fields make up the rest of the garden.
Drinking from a 300 year old tea house
For us the highlight of our time at the garden was drinking Macha (green tea) privately in the tea house on Naka no shima island where you will be served by a lovely old Japanese lady draped in kimono. The house was used by fisherman for the feudal lords who came and rested at the tea house after a day of fishing. The tea house is 300 years old. There are a few more tea houses spotted around the garden serving tea for cheaper but the tradition and atmosphere is not nearly as good as you sit up close on the bank of the main pond. Macha 800¥
It is quite sad to see these enormous black and white birds in the aviary which are Japan’s national animal. These birds used to roam free in the gardens since its inception however there were none left after World War 2. Two cranes were donated by China and other cranes came from the town of Kushiro in Hokkaido. The garden now hatches its own cranes. The cranes are released and free to roam the gardens once a year on New Year’s Day.
Where to eat
The gardens are located on the Asahi River and just outside the south exit near the boat rental place there is a restaurant serving udon and tempura on the bank of the river. These udon noodles are made by hand and are one of the best that we have ever eaten. The tempura was great too. Highly recommend eating here. Next door is a cafe serving the local beer from Okayama.
Opposite the gardens is Okayama’s other major attraction Okayama Castle. This is a restored castle that was destroyed during World War 2. The castle which is black is unique as most of the castles are white. If you haven’t been to a castle in Japan then it may be worth visiting but there are better castles in Japan.
If you have the JR pass then it may be worth stopping at Okayama for a couple of hours if you are travelling to Hiroshima from Osaka as they are on the same train line.
Admission and opening hours
Adults 15-64 ¥400. Children 6-14 ¥ 140 Seniors 65- ¥140
March 20- September 20 7:30am -6:00pm
October 1-March 19 8:00am- 5:00pm