Okayama, Chugoku

45-meter stone walls are an amazing display. Old merchants' residences with latticework and square-tiled walls.

Tsuyama is situated in the Tsuyama Basin between the Chugoku Mountains and the Kibi-kogen Highlands in northeastern Okayama. Tsuyama was the center of the former Mimasaka region (Tsuyama and its vicinity) and has a long history. The city was a key junction of trades between the two ancient powers, Izumo and Yamato, and thrived as a castle town after a castle was built there in the early 17th century.

Construction of Tsuyama Castle, called the best castle in Japan, took 13 years. However, the castle is gone now; only the 45-meter-tall sturdy stonewalls remain. The site has been transformed into a park called Kakuzan-koen, and is famous in western Japan as a famous cherry blossom viewing site. A samurai's residence with white plastered walls is preserved to the west of the former castle site. On the east side, old merchants' residences characterized by walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster and latticework remain. The area has been designated a historical preservation site.

The Shuraku-en Garden with its elegant scenery also is reminiscent of the 17th century. There are four islands in a large pond in this garden with the Chugoku Mountains in the distant background. The Okutsu-onsen Hot Spring, one of the three major hot springs of Mimasaka, is located upstream of the Yoshii-gawa River that runs in the suburbs of Tsuyama. In this province, the residents preserve traditional practices, such as washing laundry in the river.


From Tokyo:
[Air] 1h 15 min from Haneda to Okayama Airport.
[Rail] 3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 1h 30 min from Okayama to Tsuyama Station by JR Tsuyama Line.
From Osaka:
[Rail] 45 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station.

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