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  • Writer's pictureMaia Marin


Blog by Maia Marin

Okayama, Hiroshima, Naoshima | March 26, 2023 - March 28, 2023


Kōkoen 好古園, a Japanese Garden located next to Himeji Castle, was our first stop leaving Kyoto on the way to Okayama. This quick stop was well worthwhile, even on such a rainy day. While we didn't actually get to see Himeji Castle up close, from a distance, its opulence was already beyond comprehension. The Kōkoen garden was probably one of my favorite gardens we had visited at this point. Maybe since it wasn't too heavily trafficked by visitors, and there was so much variety in garden styles, I immensely enjoyed the rain here because it truly enhanced the many water details featured across the gardens.


Kōrakuen 後楽園, our first official stop in Okayama, was a breath of fresh air from the busy streets. A large stream ran through the garden with hundreds of Koi fish bubbling around the edges. I distinctly remember the sound of the Koi and the suction of their mouths as a classmate fed them. In this garden alone, it felt like there were several different biomes since there was a humid grove of dense forest, towering bamboo, a Sakura Grove, and open spans of water. The concept of borrowed scenery was well played in this space, and we could get a sneak peek of our following location sitting behind the garden.

Okayama Castle was neatly sat atop a plateau overlooking the Kōrakuen garden. I was surprised by the height and narrowness of the Castle since it has such a vast presence. The stark contrast of the dark walls and gold accents enhanced the structure's details against the overcast backdrop. At the top of the Castle, the surrounding Asahi River and Kōrakuen garden was visible.


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a must-see area in Japan, conveys the horrors of the first atomic bomb that was dropped on August 6th of, 1945. There are many features of the park which include the Memorial Cenotaph, Peace Flame, Peace Bells, Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, Cenotaph for Korean Victims, Gates of Peace, Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students, and other monuments. To say the least, it wasn't a joyous occasion to visit the site of the first atomic bomb, where over 140,000 people were killed without any warning or opportunity to escape. Despite the obviously sad circumstances of the park, it was nice to see the city's perseverance to overcome and encourage peace.


Naoshima is known for its many art museums and structures throughout the Island. I was looking forward to this section of the trip because of my love for outdoor art exhibitions. The start of this day was hilariously a mess; a student in our group nearly missed the train, and then the group split in half, with some already headed out to Naoshima on the ferry and the rest left behind while trying to buy ferry tickets. Time is well-spent in Japan. Arriving on the Island, the weather was absolutely stunning, so I could walk without a jacket on in the bright and perfectly warm environment. The Island itself is super tiny, so we could walk across the Island's small neighborhoods to the side where various museums were located. Specifically, the group visited Chichu Art Museum, which in short, was the best art museum experience I have ever had. Every exhibition was breathtaking, and I highly recommend that everyone visit.

All Images were captured and edited by the poster


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