From Kurashiki, I headed to Okayama for the second leg of this day trip from Osaka. Okayama is a pretty cute place. It’s also where I had the most wonderful udon to date (more on that later). Right outside the JR station is the Momotaro statue (peach boy) – a hero from one of Japan’s fairytales.
From the station, a 30 minutes walk down a straight road would bring us right to Okayama castle (or crow castle). It’s a really cool castle with its black facade – makes it standout from amongst all the castles in Japan. Though the castle ground is really small.
Just across the bridge (see below) from the castle, is one of the many entrances to Korakuen – one of the top three best landscape gardens in Japan. At 400 yen, it was definitely worth it.
While the place is huge, if you visit during the sakura season (and I happened to be here on a full bloom day), the park has this area planted with sakura trees. It was beautiful and I had my mini-hanami experience with a tri-coloured dango under them. It was surreal! Admittedly, I bought the tango more for instagram purpose, because there were quite plain (think glutinous rice ball) and flavourless.
A traditional looking tea house on display
It was fortunate I was in the garden on the first Sunday in April. I ended up in the middle of the Goshinko festival where locals don traditional garments for a shrine procession. I just found the juxtaposition of people in period costumes in modern setting lazing around during lunch so interesting.
Also, the gardens rear Japanese red-headed cranes, a creature used in many of Japan’s literature and poetry. It was my first time seeing these beautiful creatures and I can see why they are described as graceful.
Here’s the udon I was talking about – bukkake udon. Bukakke is a shop franchise many locals visit because of its affordability and delicious udon. I visited the shop on the shinkansen platform and it was an unique experience to eat while watching people rushing for their trains. It’s a simple dish served with radish, spring onions, seaweed and egg in a light broth. I topped it with some chilli flakes for that slight kick and it was phenomenal. I was so keen on getting a second bowl to go but decided that it would probably be soggy by the time I arrived back in Osaka. Till this day, I’m still reminiscing about it, so you’ve definitely have got to give this a try when you’re in Okayama. Till the next post, bye!