A dark day in Okayama.

We arrived in Okayama in the morning, so there was plenty of time to fit in a full afternoon of sightseeing.

Okayama-jo Castle or Ujo, was built in 1597 by Lord Ukita Hideie. It has been nicknamed ‘Ujo’ which means ‘Crow Castle’, due to the black timber weatherboards covering the outer walls.

The present castle was reconstructed in 1966 after the original one was destroyed during WW2.

Japan has done a marvelous job of rebuilding their lost heritage, especially the old Feudal castles.

Inside was an exhibition of old mechanical toys as well as a series of  prints with ambiguous meanings.

The concept of ‘play’ was the theme of the exhibition and that idea was juxtaposed against the modern trend of computer games.

Multi story computer and video game arcades are everywhere in Japan, so it was an interesting social comment.

The castle was a bit disappointing but the exhibition made up for it.

Just over the Asahi River is the Okayama Korakuen Gardens, one of the most famous in Japan.

In 1687, under instruction from the Feudal Lord Ikeda Tsunamasa, Tsuda Nagatada started construction of the gardens.

They still retain their original appearance.

The original garden was called Koen or ‘Back Garden’ as it was built behind Okayama Castle.

It was here at 3:15 pm, in these beautiful surroundings, that my Sony Alpha 55 died.

Although the sun was shining it was a dark day indeed.

After trying unsuccessfully to revive my SLR for most of that night and conducting a heap of Google research, I concluded that the camera’s condition was terminal.

Next day, with my RX100 Compact and a much lighter load, we took a train ride to Sakaide on the Marine Liner and over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge. This is the world’s longest two-tiered bridge and connects Honshu with Shikoku, travelling over five smaller islands. Road traffic is on the top level and the train runs below.

It took ten years to build with construction starting in 1978 and completed in 1988.

It takes about 20 minutes to cross by car or train.

We then took the bus across country to Kurashiki. This gave us an excellent opportunity to see the more rural areas of this part of Japan.

Within walking distance from the Kurashiki Station is the old part of town, known as the Bikan Chiku. This area has been preserved as an outdoor museum and there are restaurants, craft and souvenir shops as well as a number of actual museums.

It was a Sunday, and as we had discovered, the Japanese love to get out and do things on the weekends. The streets were filled with local tourists and the restaurants had crowds lined up at the door.

I have discovered one thing about using a small camera, and that is people have no respect, they are constantly walking in front of you.

When you have something larger, and apparently more impressive, they offer you far more courtesy.

An upside is that they don’t ask you to take a snap of them, or even stand behind you to ‘steal’ your shot.

However I do still need to get another SLR.

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