Western Honshū

Nicknamed U-jō (烏城; Crow Castle) because of its colour, the striking black Okayama Castle has an imposing exterior with gilded-fish gargoyles flipping their tails in the air. You can appreciate its impressive appearance for nix from either the grounds or across the river. In summer, the castle and nearby Kōraku-en are lit up and stay open late.

Inside the donjon (main keep), some modern finishes detract from the 16th-century feel, but there are a few interesting museum displays and views from the top floor. While it was first completed in 1597 under daimyō Ukita Hideie, much of the castle was dismantled after the Meiji Restoration and most of what remained burnt down during WWII air raids. It was rebuilt in 1966.

From Okayama Station, take the Higashi-yama tram to the Shiroshita stop, from where it's about 10 minutes on foot. Walking the entire way is also easy and takes about 25 minutes.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Western Honshū attractions

1. Hayashibara Museum of Art

0.09 MILES

This is a small museum with exhibits of scrolls, armour and paintings that were once the property of the Ikeda clan (who ruled Okayama for much of the Edo…

2. Okayama Prefectural Museum

0.32 MILES

Tools, armoury and Bizen pottery are among the historic artefacts exhibited at this museum, located near the entrance to Kōraku-en.

3. Kōraku-en

0.33 MILES

Kōraku-en draws the crowds with its reputation as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. It has expansive lawns broken up by ponds, teahouses…

4. Yumeji Art Museum

0.48 MILES

Prominent Taishō-era artist and poet Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934) is particularly known for his bijin-ga (images of beautiful women), and various wistfully…

5. Kibitsu-jinja

4.82 MILES

This sprawling Shintō shrine is dedicated to an ancient warrior who subdued a local demon-bandit called Ura and brought the area under central control…

6. Tsukuriyama-kofun

7.48 MILES

The 5th-century Tsukuriyama-kofun is the fourth-biggest kofun tomb (keyhole-shaped burial mound) in Japan. It's thought to mark the final resting place of…

7. Bitchū Kokobun-ji

8.72 MILES

A highlight on the Kibiji bicycle route, this temple has a picturesque five-storey, 34m pagoda – famed for being the last pagoda to be built in Japan. The…

8. Achi-jinja

10.25 MILES

Steep stone steps lead up to this shrine in Tsurugata-yama-kōen, a park that overlooks the old area of town. The shrine is home to a wisteria tree thought…