Things to Do in Okayama Prefecture
One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Okayama Korakuen Garden was commissioned by regional ruler Tsunamasa Ikeda in 1686 and took over 14 years to complete. Today, the 13-hectare garden is a protected public park and retains its original appearance despite undergoing extensive restoration in the post-World War II years.
Its vast grassy lawn is Korakuen’s most unique attribute, but for many visitors, it’s the traditional Japanese features that draw the most attention, like the immaculately clipped bonsai trees, the blossom trees that bloom with color each spring and the network of water ways bridged by dainty stepping stones and narrow wooden footbridges. Climb to the top of the Yuishin-zan hill for a view over the garden and the neighboring Okayama Castle, gaze out over the central lake from the Enyo-tei tea house, then follow the walkways to discover the plum and cherry orchard, small tea plantation and rice field, and cages of rare red-crowned cranes.
Japan’s oldest museum of western art, the Ohara Museum of Art opened its doors in 1930 to commemorate the death of local artist Kojima Torajiro, whose western influences had inspired local businessman Ohara Magosaburo to import a varied collection of French paintings and sculptures.
Today, the museum remains an important cornerstone of western art in Japan, expanding its collection to include an impressive selection of 17th- to 20th-century Dutch, Flemish and Italian works, Greek and Roman classical artworks, ancient oriental art and a series of paintings from the Japanese Mingei Movement. Highlights of the museum’s three galleries include El Greco’s “Annunciation,” Monet’s “Water Lilies” and Foujita’s “Avant le bal,” as well as works by Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Warhol and Chagall, to name just a few.