Okayama Castle 岡山城
Founder Ukita Hideie
Year 1597
Type Hilltop
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name U-jo, Kin'u-jo
Reconstructed 1965 (concrete)
Structure 3 level, 6 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Nishonomaru Nishite Yagura, Tsukimi Yagura
Location Okayama, Okayama Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Okayama Sta. (San'yo Line); 20 min walk, 10 min bus
Website Okayama Castle Official Homepage
Visited November 14, 2009
Notes Okayama Castle has such a unique shape that every angle you gives you a unique view. That's why I have so many pictures of the main keep. There is also another yagura that is an Important Cultural Property located on the grounds of a nearby school. I tried to find it but it looked like there was no public way on to the school grounds and the gates were closed.
History Ukita Naoie began construction of the castle in 1573 but it was not completed until 1597 by his son Hideie. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Kobayakawa Hideaki was given control of the castle but he died just two years later. Ikeda Terumasa's second son, Ikeda Tadatsugu (a grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu), became the new lord of the castle. The Ikeda family continued to rule until the Meiji Period. This was another one of the great castles of the Edo Period but was unfortunately destroyed in the air raids of 1945.
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  • ART    October 27, 2016 at 10:45 PM
    They say Kobayakawa Hideaki died of madness! Kobayakawa Hideaki’s role at Sekigahara: Hideaki was the nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and second rank Imperial Counsellor (chūnagon). He fought in the Korean campaigns (Imjin War) and won the day at the Battle of Keichō, leading reinforcements to save the besieged Japanese force at Ulsan Castle(Urusan-wajō) from the Ming Chinese. He fought on the front line, wielding a spear. He broke the siege by capturing an enemy commander. However, Hideyoshi considered his tactics too reckless and confiscated his lands. Demoted, Hideaki became resentful and he believed that Hideyoshi had been poisoned against him by Ishida Mitsunari, one of Hideyoshi’s top administrators (one of the five Bugyō). He swore revenge. He got his chance at the Battle of Sekigahara. Kobayakawa had been in contact with Tokugawa Ieyasu secretly and planned to betray Hideyoshi. Ishida suspected betrayal and so to secure Kobayakawa’s support he brokered a deal offering him more land and the provisional title of Kampaku (which was the highest office in the land at the time, excluding royalty), which he had initially been promised before the birth of Hideyori, Hideyoshi’s heir. When the battle started Kobayakawa remained neutral, presumably waiting to see which side was shaping up to win. Initially it was Tokugawa that was appearing to lose: Ukita Hideie, lord of Okayamajō, was meeting with success, and Ōtani Yoshitsugu was pushing back Tōdō Takatora, famous castle architect. Tokugawa grew impatient with Kobayakawa and ordered Magobei Fuse to fire warning shots at his forces. This risky provocation spurred Kobayakawa to action and he attacked Ōtani. This was what others needed to see: a wave of betrayals caused the downfall of the Western Loyalist Army at Sekigahara and Ishida was killed. Kobayakawa was able to enjoy vengeance against Ishida by chasing down his forces and conquering his fortress at Suwamajō. As a result of resisting the Tokugawa, Ukita Hideie was banished and Kobayakawa took over his castle, Okayamajō.
  • snoworion on My Page    September 20, 2016 at 04:53 PM
    Visited on 7 September 2016. Reconstructed Castle but majestic.
  • byrdsignal    April 15, 2015 at 06:13 AM
    Visited Winter 2001. It's been a while, but I still recall what an impressive exterior the castle has. Very striking and photogenic. It's easy to get to, just a bus ride from JR Okayama station. The grounds are nicely maintained, and the museum inside the rebuilt keep is a notch above many castle museums, frequently having special exhibits, rather than just the usual local/castle history.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 11:06 PM
    A standout castle just for the color and the view to the park across the river , both are a must see.
  • RaymondW    April 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM
    No worries, Furinkazan. Hope you made it up to Tsuyama Castle. If you are an ishigaki fan, there is plenty to see there.
  • furinkazan    April 15, 2012 at 07:55 PM
    Thank you Raymond for the hint to Tsuyama. It's on my plan to go, but i think, sadly, that the sakura will be to their end before i go there.(5 days from now).
  • RaymondW    April 14, 2012 at 11:36 PM
    For a concrete reconstruction, this castle is pretty decent. From the outside, it does look like as it appeared prior to being destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII. For me, Okayama City is a major transport hub when I head out west to the Chugoku Region and the northern part of Shikoku to visit some castles. I think I have stopped by Okayama Castle something like five or six times, so I have a soft spot for this castle. Unfortunately, I have never been here during the cherry blossoms or when the autumn leaves are at their best. Furinkazan, if you are still in the area, Tsuyama Castle should be fun because of all its ishigaki (kind of like Marugame Castle but without the original keep). It also has tons of cherry trees, so the hanami should be pretty good around now.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 10, 2012 at 07:33 PM
    I went back to this castle today. I think i appreciated it more now than the first time. It was my first concrete castle i visited inside and i learned alot about these reconstructions. There is now a special exibit going on for the springtime. There are some nice armors and weapons which aren't there normally. It is really worth the visit, so if you are in the vicinity, go for it.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 21, 2011 at 07:27 PM
    Makes a good backdrop for garden. But castle is not worth going into.
  • a22cricket on My Page    May 16, 2011 at 07:05 PM
    Nice if you're in town. Small museum about the area.
  • john    April 21, 2011 at 02:41 AM
    Which side of a castle keep is the front? There are two types of side on the top of castle keeps- the rwo sides where the sloping part of the roof can be seen, and the two sides that have the gable-like structures. The sides that show the roof are most commonly seen as the front on pictures of Himeji-jo and Nagoya, whereas the sides with the gables are mostly seen as the front in pictures of kummamoto, osaka, and okayama. If anyone has an answer, could you write it down here?
  • Kris on My Page    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 PM
    Okayama is Momotarou town. There are bronze statues of Momotarou and friends lining the street up to the keep and the castle mascot, not surprisingly, also involves Momotarou. This was the first time I had seen an elevator inside a keep. On one of the floors of the museum you can dress up as a princess, complete with wig; it's free but limited to about 4 people per hour, (that might have changed since 2008). The view from the top is excellent because it overlooks Korakuen – one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. The architecture of this castle is fascinating and the contrasting black and gold makes for interesting photos. U-jo means Crow Castle and Kin'U-jo means Gold Crow Castle – it used to have a gold roof - so if you go to Okayama then nearby Himeji you can see Crow Castle then Egret Castle. The names really suit them, I think.
  • Raymond W.    December 02, 2009 at 08:22 PM
    You have posted up some nice photos. I have only been to Okayama Castle in the summer and winter. It looks like autumn is a good time to go, too. Maybe next autumn... As Furinkazan has said, the outside looks better than in the inside, but for a concrete reconstruction, the people responsible did try to make an effort to incorporate a little bit of wood inside which is more than I can say about some other reconstructed castles in Japan.
  • furinkazan    August 04, 2009 at 02:18 AM
    I went there in april 2004. The castle is very beautiful from the outside, but is a concrete reconstruction with elevators inside. The museum inside is otherwise very interesting.
  • Raymond    August 07, 2008 at 05:01 PM
    This is a fabulous castle to visit. Great museum inside, photogenic exterior, and easy access from Okayama Station and can be done on a long day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. A combined ticket to both the castle and Korakuen Garden cost 520yen. If you want some nice piccies of the castle, make sure you walk across the white suspension bridge to the Korakuen Garden. Walk past the South Gate to the garden and go along the riverbank for some top notch photos of the river and castle. Then head into Korakuen to enjoy the garden and get more photos of the castle with the garden and one of the ponds in the foreground. I wonder how much of this castle's (and other castles') original construction was influenced by the Korean wa-jos during the six year occupation of southern Korea.
  • Kian    March 27, 2008 at 03:26 AM
    Woah, that castle is awesome!!!! And the color scheme is really good. I'm actually researching this because I'm building a smaller model of it for my Ancient Civilizations Class. This website was really helpful in this study. Many thanks!!!!
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Okayama, Okayama Pref.
Okayama Castle views
main keep Akazunomon Gate
Rokujyuichi Gangi Ue Mon gate gate and stone walls
Tsukimi Yagura Rokamon Gate
Rokamon Gate Main keep
main keep main keep
main keep donjon and gardens
nagayamon gate map