Okayama was built in the year 1597 by Hideie Ukita who was given orders from Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The walls of the castle tower are jet black, also giving the building the name "Ujo".
Within the castle you are able to see a range of different things such as the keep, watchtower, gate, stone wall, and the moat which surrounds the castle. Furthermore, the "Tsukimiyagura" as well as the "Nishinomaru-nishiteyagura" are the only two things left from this specific time period, everything else has either been restored or reconstructed.
The Amazing Things about Okayama Castle!
The one thing you cannot afford to miss when visiting Okayama castle has to be the castle tower. The castle tower was created for the purpose of building said castle and it shaped as a pentagon with unequal sides. A shape very rarely seen nationwide, depending on where you stand and look at the castle tower the shape differs which is just one of its' attractive points.
The "Tsukimiyagura" and the "Nishinomaru-nishiteyagura" stated earlier are another place definitely worth visiting, these two buildings are as they were back in the period they were built meaning they are a very important part in keeping that part of history alive. One of the amazing things about the "Tsukimiyagura" is that from the outside of the castle it looks to only be 2 stories tall. However, this is because one of the stories is hidden thanks to the tall-built stone fort on the perimeter of the castle grounds.
On the other hand we have the "Nishinomaru-nishiteyagura" which was built up of equally sized blocks. By creating something that used the same shape it it said that it helped with living everyday life. Both of these buildings are an important cultural property of Japan.
Enjoying the Architecture
When visiting Okayama Castle, make sure to check out the stone wall which formed the foundation for the castle itself. It was used from the year 1597 until the 1800's, allowing you to appreciate how things in those periods were built and used.
There are 3 different methods for creating stone walls such as these, the first being something called the "Nozurazumi (Natural)" method. As you may expect, this is a method where you simply take circular stones without changing them in any way and stack them up on top of each other. A few years later from around 1605 a new method called the "Uchikomi-hagi" was used in which the stones were purposely made circular and of a similar size to reduce any gaps in the construction of the stone wall.
The final method was similar to last in name, the "Kirikomi-hagi" method. This is where stones were gathered from far and wide, large and small, and stacked on top of each other.
No matter which of these various methods you look at, you can be surprised at the elaborate and beautiful scenes they create.
The Famous Festival held at Okayama Castle
Every single year there are lots of different festivals that take place at Okayama Castle. In Spring you have the "Ujo Hinamatsuri". Here you can see one of Japan's most traditional dolls the "Hina Doll" as well as hear one of Japan's traditional instrument; the koto which is played in a musical performance in appreciation of these items.
Furthermore, in Spring, Summer, and Autumn, the path to the castle is lit up by candles and Chinese lanterns called the "Ujo Tougenkyo". During this period where the path is lit up, the castle is open at night, we highly recommend heading up the castle tower to look out over the nightscape.
Not only this but at the castle you are able to try on the armour and equipment! This is the "Ujo Oshiro Asobi". Or maybe you want to see a traditional lion dance? The "Ujo Hatsuyume Matsuri" (Ujo First Dream Festival).
Experiences and Events for Foreigners
There are many different events and experience for you to try at Okayama Castle and its keep. For example there is a free experience where you can try out wearing a feudal lord or princess' clothes. Or try your hand at making some Bizenyaki, a type of pottery made in Okayama; you are free to pick from many different items to make such as plates or small bowls.
About Okayama Castle
- Establishment Year: 1597
- Festival Ujo Hinamatsuri（Spring）
- Ujo Tougenkyo（Spring/Summer/Autumn）
- Ujo Oshiro Asobi（Spring）
- Ukita Hideie Family Festival（Autumn）
- 68th Okayama chrysanthemum flower grand event （Autumn）
- Public viewing of the Tsukimiyagura（Autumn）
- Ujo Hatsuyume Matsuri (Ujo First Dream Festival)（Winter）
- Spot name：Okayama Castle
- Street address：2-3-1,Marunouchi,Kita-ku,Okayama-shi,Okayama 700-0823
- Access：Okayama Station→[Ryobi Bus]Approx. 10 minutes→Kencho-mae…5 minutes walking distance
- Language：English, Chinese (Traditional, Simplified), Korean
- Ticket Purchase：At acceptance
- Credit cards：VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International, Discover Carsd, UnionPay