Okayama, December 25th
Asia trip 2018-2019

At the Okayama Station square there is a statue of Momotarō with its animal companions: a pheasant, a dog and a monkey. Momotarō (桃太郎, “Peach Boy”) is original of Okayama, or so the story goes.

I visit the city garden and castle. No Japanese city is complete with neither of them. I do not expect anything extraordinary. Once you have seen a dozen Japanese gardens, it stops being a novelty.

In the garden, I am just looking for the pleasure of a quiet walk in a beautiful place. And it delivers. It is the right moment to relax and slow down the pace. The garden is pretty, with only the usual winter-closed areas. 

One of the drawbacks of traveling in December is that most flower gardens are not at their best time. Trees have already lost their leaves. Gardens, museums and other venues take this time of the year to do maintenance work. So, it is usual to find some parts closed. Also, what should be a green and lively place with climbing plants, becomes dull and dry. But there is much else to see anyway.

Low season also has its advantages. You have more space for yourself. Parks and museums are well below its maximum capacity. What will be queues and noise in summer, it is quietude and fast access in winter.

I have been in August in Japan. That month is hot and humid making it a lousy time for walking around. And there are the insects. I have mixed feelings about them. I like to hear the cicadas. But it is not a nice feeling when one of them lands over your clothes.

For me, it is not a real choice, anyway. Stockholm is dark in December. In the city, around 14:00 is already night time. And even when there is a sunny day, you cannot feel that warming sensation that should go with the sun. So, for all of its drawbacks, December is my preferred season to leave Sweden and travel.

After leaving the garden, I walk around the small island where it is situated to snap a picture of another Momotarō statue. It is a good excuse to take a walk.

I visit the Okayama castle nicknamed the Crow Castle for its black color. It is new and shiny and dominates the view from the river. Like many castles in Japan, the original building was destroyed during World War II. The current one is a concrete replicated build in 1966.

To finish the day , I go shopping and then to the hotel.