Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Appreciating Okayama Castle without going inside it!

Okayama Castle, viewed from Korakuen

A more close-up view of the upper floors of Okayama-jo's main keep 
-- made posible by my camera's wonderful zoom lens ;b

One more shot of Okayama-jo taken at Korakuen

The day after I visited a castle and gazed out at a garden in Bitchu-Takahashi, I spent time in Okayama's famous garden and, while there, gazed from time to time at the city's less lauded castle, of which my copy of Frommer's Japan had stated: "Frankly, if you've seen other Japanese castles, you might just want to photograph this one from the outside and move on"!

The main reason behind the relative lack of love and respect for that which has been nicknamed "Crow Castle"due to its black exterior (which serves as a contrast to Himeji's White Heron Castle) is that the great bulk of it only dates back to 1965-1966.  For although there was a castle on its grounds from back in 1597, Okayama-jo was largely destroyed during the Second World War, with only one original building (the Tsukimi Yagura/"moon viewing turret") remaining.

On my first ever visit to Japan back in 1982, I had been taken to Osaka Castle and been distinctly unimpressed by it.  Being much more used to more formidable looking British castles then, I had considered the Japanese example of a castle to be on the namby pamby side, thanks to such as their elaborate roofs. 

These days, I'm much more appreciative of Japanese castles -- and have happily visited a fair few over the years, including Kyoto's Nijo Castle (with its famous "nightingale" floors) and Okinawa's Chinese influenced Shuri Castle.  But I have to admit that I still tend to be less enamored by those castles that have had elevators installed inside them -- of which Osaka's is one.  So upon learning that Okayama's also has an elevator inside its main keep, I decided that I'd be content to just view it from the outside -- and upon having done so, must conclude that at least its exterior does look pretty good indeed! ;b

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