I was very cruel on Okayama when we arrived. I compared it to Clapham Junction due to it’s role. The reality is it’s nothing like that. it is actually a rathyer pleasent, though presently humid, city which looks like it might get potentially vibrant for the 20+ generations. not sure there’s much there for kids though.

We arrived at the hotel, all of 3 minutes walk from the station. It’s not bad – looks like a 1970/80s place on the outside and in the reception, and the rooms look like a normal ryokan for that period, so as expected.

The plan always was to wander down in the afternoon/evening and do the famous park, plus maybe the castle. Once getting down that far, despite knowing it was made of ferous concrete, the small castle looked quite good. It’s black due to dark wooden storm covers and as a result is known as crow castle. There was only an hour till closing and 2 till the park closed so we decided to do the latter.

The Japanese do like their lists and to them Okayama-koen was the third best of their parks. It was also the first to have grass in it. As we wandered round we found it relaxing, but to us it was just like a Vistorian era English park with a Japanese twist in buildings. Relaxing yes, but what all the fuss was about we’re not sure. Still it was a pleasant way to pass severals hours, even if it did involve yet more walking.

From the park we decided to wander to a restaurant for an evening meal before heading back to the ryoken. There is a covered shopping street there, seemed rather good, which was meant to have food places on it so we went for a wander down. As we passed a second hand music shop I decided to pop in. I’m a big fan of a Japanese electronica group Pizicato 5 (this is your fault Timo), but there stuff is expensive in the US/UK. Got a very good deal on three from a very helpful sales assistant, so it’s only fair to mention Groovin’ Disc Shop in the Omote Mache arcade. As we walked further down we then found near nirvana. A real manga shop – large inside and two floors. We spent a fait while in there despite the fact there was nothing in English, and I walked away with the latest issue of Inital-D – issue 30.

Food was not that hot and we decided to call it a night, but we’ve decided to hit the castle tomorrow before we head off – so an early start as we’ve reserved our shinkansen seats with the view of doing the Peace Park and Peace Museum in Hiroshima in the afternoon.