Okayama

Hi all!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A traditional looking tea house on display

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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.

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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.

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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!

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