It's on to Okayama, west of Tokyo, west of Kyoto. The city was heavily damaged in WWII, and was rebuilt on a grid plan with wide boulevards. Wide enough that automobiles have not pushed out streetcars.
The rolling stock, and its graphics, are pretty up-to-date….
…as is one of its enduring "arcade shopping streets", with skylights totally protecting shoppers from summer heat and winter rains.
The marketing is a bit contemporary as well…Colonel Santa Claus?
But the big draw in Okayama is Korarku-en, which, along with Mito's Kairaku-en and Kanazawa's Kenroku-en, is considered a "Great Garden of Japan". It was started in the late 17th Century as the garden for the castle of the local feudal lord.
A considerably large garden, not only suitable for strolling, but boating as well.
Upon entering, the paths (and cat) direct one immediately up the "mountain"….
…so you can see right away what the daimyo had created: ponds, waterways, and expanses of grass and planting beds.
Following the water from the "dry waterfall" of stones...
…a series of bridges span various water elements. This "yatsuhashi" (eight-bridge) has the requisite number of planks - 8. I suspect in late spring the area around the bridge will be packed with iris blooms.
In the summer this zig-zag bridge will be traversing towering lotus blossoms.
And this test of one's balance leads to a tea house.
Down one narrow waterway, is this pavilion, which has some Chinese characteristics….
…and upon entering it is an obvious reference to the "Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion" which took place in China in 353.
The many paths from the mountain beyond, lead to the shore of the large lake, with a large-headed turtle island and a live crane (well, heron…) standing on it's edge.
Another view shows the tea house island, with gazebo on the shore for summer evening tea gatherings, and a lady in red on the arched bridge.
Another tea house…..
…with window facing the lake…its movable shoji screens in the closed position.
Okayama is not, however, only about its feudal era, it has modern gardens as well. This one is in the Hayashibara Museum of Modern Art…a modest collection of art, but the garden, and building, stand in contrast to what the lord built.
And is has some contemporary housing, with innovative parking and electric recharging systems for two cars.