This is the second article in my series of travel photos and bentos inspired by my trip to Japan. My Mom and I stayed at the Hilton in Osaka and took the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Okayama for a day trip. It was an easy day trip from Osaka. My Mom wanted to see the Okayama Korakuen garden. It is on the list of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. I was interested in seeing the town that claims to be the setting of the Momotaro (Peach Boy) story.
Container: Book Bento Box
Contents: Cooked broccoli and cashews, Nishiki rice with smoked salt, Momotaro (Cheddar cheese with spinach and food marker details), Oni (Cheddar cheese with food coloring, spinach, cheese, and carrot details). I included a monkey and dog pick but omitted the bird from the story because I do not have a bird pick and decided not to make one.
This was my first time using this cute Book Bento Box. I received it as a Christmas gift. Since Momotaro (Peach Boy) is story, it seemed appropriate to put in in a book shaped box. This bento came from All Things for Sale.
I don’t think that Okayama is a typical town for foreigners to visit because when I told many Japanese friends about our plans they seemed surprised. When I was in the process of deciding to visit Okayama I consulted many blog posts in English. Some people recommended it and some did not. I think that it depends on your interests. We were very impressed with the Okayama Korakuen garden and it was early spring (often not an ideal time to visit a garden).
This is my attempt at a simple Okayama Castle drawing. My Mom and I bought combination tickets to the Okayama Korakuen Garden and Okayama Castle. We enjoyed walking around and through the castle. They have many interesting historical displays and a gift shop.
I used leftovers from dinner in this easy bento lunch.
Container: Black Bento Box
Small Tier: Strawberries and walnuts
Large Tier: Okayama Castle drawn on a flour tortilla with a food safe marker, Penne with asparagus and pine nuts (I used vegetable broth)
We toured the castle and garden on our first full day in Japan. We were tired and jet-lagged but we had a wonderful day. Some people may say that early spring is not the best time to visit Okayama Korakuen. But it is such a well-designed and gorgeous place that I think it would be wonderful to visit in any season. We took a lot of photos here as everywhere we looked there was beauty.
We easily found the Momotaro statue as it was right near Okayama Station. We never did find the Momotaro themed manhole covers. Their location was not obvious and we ran out of time. We found one information desk but were not able to find the information center. Supposedly they have the Momotaro story in English to giveaway. It was in a lower level somewhere. We made an effort to find it but gave up. Instead we ate ice cream and fruit in crepes at Baskin-Robbins.
The bus that goes to Okayama Korakuen is not far from the Momotaro statue. I asked a family (in Japanese) how to get to the garden. They were going to the same place and were very kind to make sure we knew where to get off and watched out for us a little.
Ekiben (train station bento) are found in train stations in Japan. I knew about the peach box and was on the lookout for it. I actually thought about buying it for the box (as a vegetarian I don’t eat fish) but decided that it was probably flimsy.
This photo shows Okayama Ekiben (train station bento). It showcases local specialties. I was fascinated by bentos in Japan and took many photos.
The older woman in this photo spoke with us in Japanese. She was friendly and asked us where we were from. I later heard her tell another worker at the garden that we were from New York.
I believe that this was my first time seeing this tree (Wintersweet or Japanese Allspice). It was very fragrant! I asked what it was called and was given the name in Japanese. Part of the name is the same for candle. Here is a detailed explanation and some beautiful photos.
Okayama Korakuen has several cranes. Here is some more information on the cranes at Okayama Korakuen.
I hope that you enjoyed seeing my photos from Okayama and my inspired bento lunches. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer them.