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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
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Okayama Ultimate Travel Guide

So it's Christmas, hope you guys have plans for it with your family and friends!
If you don't have any, you can always read this post and start planning for your next Japan trip instead haha. I've finally made a mini guide on how to experience the most out of Okayama city in 1 day, it's great side visit for those staying in neighboring cities around Kansai!

There’s a funny tale behind this visit to Okayama castle, I’ve mentioned before in my previous Okayama entries that this is my 2nd time here as my first was back in June 2017. I ended up at Okayama station with no clue on what to do while I was here because it was never my intention to visit this prefecture (initial plan was to Tottori but failed lol) but due to unforeseen circumstances and limited time at hand I’ve decided to google on things to do nearby the station.

Okayama castle popped up!

Since it was walking distance, why not? Though there were other suggestions which required some traveling time, I wasn’t too confident with Japan’s public transport system back then because time and time again I always got myself miraculously lost lol. So Okayama castle it is, can’t be hard because the map says it’s like less than 2km walk (25mins) from Okayama station.

But actually one can walk from Shiroshita station, that’s even closer (650meters).

Mind you, this was a solo trip of mine so it was rather “meh”, visiting castle and walk around the train station. Felt like I wasted a day due to lack of interesting activities to do in the city here but when i was brought here again in a proper tour this November, I found out what I was missing during my June trip. Proper itinerary planning and not researching ahead was the biggest mistake lol. Very obvious problem.

Okayama has so much to offer if only more time was spared here rather than the usual cities like Osaka & Kyoto, don’t get me wrong! As much as I love them, especially Kyoto; one needs to take the path often less traveled. Okayama is like SERIOUSLY near Osaka, if you have the JR pass then your transport on the bullet train is already covered, so what’s the excuse?

Koraku-en castle

And let me tell you another story, I managed to visit the castle but forgot the beautiful garden Koraku-en which was RIGHT NEXT to the freaking castle (can you believe it? *rolls eyes*) and I actually remember walking pass the outside area of the garden (the exit) but did not enter because I wasn’t sure where the entrance was lol. I told you my map reading skills was 101% terrible. So please don’t repeat the same mistakes I did and DO VISIT the garden as well! From there you can take beautiful pictures together with the castle over the horizon.

Like how the rest of us did, and look at that epic photographer pose cheesie is doing lol. That mid-air squat not easy yo!

Pinjam lenglui Chanwon as a model for the photo haha!

 Photos alone really don't justify its beauty, need to see it with your own eyes.
Did you know that Koraku-en is ranked top 3 MOST BEAUTIFUL landscape garden in Japan alongside Kanazawa's Kenrokuen and Mito's Kairakuen?

This garden was previously built and used by ruling feudal lords for special occasions like sakura/ momiji viewing, and occasionally opened to the public as well (back then it was a big deal for commoners! Fast forward few hundred years, now we just pay to go in lol). Within the garden there are not only plum/ cherry blossoms and maple trees but tea and rice fields as well! That is why you’ll find souvenir shops in the garden’s vicinity selling tea & rice grown from the garden grounds.

Entry fee to the garden is 400 yen (garden alone) and 560 yen for both garden & castle.

Seriously good view!

 The amount of huge koi fishes in the pond looks like it could devour you whole if you ever fell in by accident lol.

There is a crane sanctuary within the garden's vicinity

Okayama Castle

The route starts by going through Koraku-en garden and if you come during the right time like peak of spring you can catch the garden flooded with sakura blossoms, a sight I would really like to see and photographed someday! It would make a great shot of the dainty sakura blossoms against the black sleek castle. One of the many beautiful castles in Japan, sadly it’s not considered a UNESCO Heritage unlike Himeji castle, I’m not sure how the titled is earned but to me these living relics of the past all deserves recognition one way or another.

Did you know that Okayama castle was actually destroyed back in world war 2?

After reading about it, makes me so sad on how precious heritage buildings like these didn’t matter during the war, people were just blindly destroying things in sight. Glad that horrible history is not repeated (pray that it will stay this way) and the castle was reconstructed in 1966. The only original part of the building that wasn’t destroyed during the bombing was the Tsukimi Yagura ("moon viewing turret") and it’s dated back to 1620, almost 400 years old!!

This castle also has a nickname, “Crow Castle” due to pitch black colour, if Jon Snow had a castle of his own then this would definitely fit him lol, after all he is a “crow” haha.

Entry fee: 300 yen (non-special occasion rate)

Inside the Castle there are a total of 6 floors, accessible by stairs and lift (super modern lol) so it’s easy for those with wheelchair to visit too! So far most of the castles I’ve visited in Japan all requires stamina because the only way you are gonna reach the top is by climbing the flight of stairs.

I really wonder how those soldiers who invade castles last time, such heavy armour running up those steep and narrow staircase, wouldn’t they fall down like dominos? Lol. Not kidding ler, I went to the costume history museum in Tottori and they showcase armours worn by various soldiers and warlords over the century; all of them looks like it weighs a tonne! The only lightweight thing is their straw slippers lol (exposed feet).

Syiok sendiri posing queens lol

The view from the top floor is always the best as you can see Koraku-en and Asahi river from there, so make sure you start from the topmost floor and make your way down. You can also dress like like period characters and take photos on the 2nd floor of Okayama castle, a good photo souvenir to bring home!

Kubo Farm Fruit Picking

Okayama is the land of fruits, they are considered one of the leading fruit suppliers throughout Japan next to places like Yamanashi and they do have fruit picking activities all year round.
Their trademark fruit is none other than peach (remember the Momotaro story i shared in my previous post)! It's one of the largest and sweetest i've ever eaten, how i wish they are available all year round but unfortunately peaches only grow during summer.

I remember reserving a spot for peach picking earlier this summer but unfortunately it was typhoon season and that caused alot of train lines to be closed due to floods and landslides. Was kinda sad as i was really looking forward to it after so much of researching on where to go (super limited info on this).

So glad that this round i got to go for fruit picking, it might not be peaches because summer has passed but we have big juicy muscat grapes for autumn and the best time to pick them is during September to October period!

Down here at Kubo Farm (about 25 mins drive from Okayama station) their Muscat grapes have been growing for 20-30 years, so you can imagine how huge the plant on its own might be! The owner of the farm shared with us, that older plants produces larger sized muscats and during picking we should go for the yellow ones as those are ripe, the green ones are still unripe!
That's something i didn't know because when we buy we always go for the greener, solid ones lol.
Best to also pick the ones grown by the furthest branch as that's the sweetest, lol really good tips!

These species here are called Muscat of Alexandria.
Super huge!
  • For only 2300yen we can pluck and eat free flow, but if you can't eat much you'll get to pack and bring back 1 bunch of grapes. Make sure to finish your whole bunch first before proceeding to cut the next one to avoid unnecessary wastage! 
  • Or if you aren't a huge fan of buffet style fruits, you can still purchase a packet for only 1500yen. Super duper worth it because normal muscat grapes sold in supermarkets easily cost double the price! 
  • Children (3-12 yrs) rates are 1200 yen per person but they are not eligible for the takeaway pack

There is no time limit, so you can take your time here to enjoy this experience.
Some fruit picking farms have time limit so it might feel kinda rushed for those looking to spend some time eating and taking tons of photos. I remember my strawberry picking experience in Chiba was caped at 30 mins so we had to quickly stuff our face lol.

Yea, our "freestyle" pose lol

You can make a booking through this website: https://the-way-of-japan.com/fruits/en/2017/04/20/593/ (English)

Hotel Granvia Okayama
For those looking to stay nearby in a convenient location and easy to access these 2 places mentioned in the post I would recommend Hotel Granvia Okayama! 

Stayed there during my last night in Okayama as I had to be at Kansai airport early the next morning, the hotel is super near to Okayama JR station! We didn’t have to leave the building at all as there are connecting corridors that leads directly to the station. That’s a bonus especially when you have huge luggages and dragging them on the road is proven to be a challenge.

It’s clean, comfortable and has all the necessary amenities needed including complimentary water! Yay!

I don’t know I get so excited whenever a hotel room provides these bottled waters, must be because to buy a bottle of water in Japan I have to pay almost RM5 lol, with that price I can get a decent lunch at the hawker’s in Malaysia.

The even have HANDY phones, guests staying can use the phone for free internet and calls!

Aside from it being next to the train station, it’s also walking distance to one of the biggest AEON mall in town and there is also a Don Quijote store in front of the hotel, so you can do some late night shopping if you can’t sleep! That’s what I did haha!

You can check for Hotel Granvia Okayama’s availability and rates on major booking websites like Booking.com.

So if you have limited time at hand like I did a year ago but still want enjoy Okayama to the fullest, these 3 places are the best place to go and experience. Hope this travel guide helps with your trip planning :)

Check out my other entries on Okayama here:

Yours Truly,

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