A hidden gem in northern Okayama Prefecture, Tsuyama City (津山市) boasts captivating historical landmarks like Tsuyama Castle and is also a natural wonderland. Holding the special honor of being the only city in Okayama Prefecture to be featured in Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites, Tsuyama is a must-visit for any springtime sakura seeker.
But hold on: you can also catch cherry blossoms here in the fall! See it for yourself at the buzzworthy TSUYAMAGIC event.
Get to know Okayama’s Tsuyama City, a popular destination in the Chugoku Region
Tsuyama City is situated in a basin surrounded by mountains, bordering the Chugoku Range to the north and the Kibi Plateau to the south. In 713, it was established as the capital of the Mimasaka Province and has flourished as the region’s political, economic, and cultural center ever since.
From the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (1868-1912), the city became famous as the home to many scholars studying European (primarily Dutch) culture. The achievements of local greats are still well-known to this day. Prominent figures include Udagawa Genzui, the first person to introduce Western internal medicine to Japan, and Mitsukuri Genpo, who devoted himself to Japanese diplomacy while serving as a physician for his clan.
Getting to Tsuyama City is a breeze. Situated about an hour’s drive from Okayama Airport, the gateway to Okayama Prefecture, it is also about an hour by rapid train from JR Okayama Station, where the Sanyo Shinkansen stops. There is an interchange for the Chugoku Expressway in the city, and by car, it takes about two hours to reach Osaka and about three hours to reach Hiroshima. Whether you’re coming from the east or the west, the city really rolls out the welcome mat with easy accessibility.
Get ready for TSUYAMAGIC - The incredible show in Tsuyama City, the city of cherry blossoms!
A locale steeped in history, Tsuyama City is one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in western Japan. In fact, it is the only place in Okayama Prefecture to be featured on Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites, an honor the city shares with iconic places such as Ueno Park in Tokyo and Mt. Yoshino in Nara.
Over a thousand cherry blossom trees fill Kakuzan Park, the site of the iconic Tsuyama Castle, built in 1616. These picturesque trees typically bloom from early to mid-April, setting the stage for the much-loved Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival.
While cherry blossoms are usually associated with springtime, Tsuyama City has a delightful surprise for visitors. Cherry blossoms “bloom” even in autumn at the enchanting Tsuyama Castle Night Illumination event, TSUYAMAGIC. Dazzling pink LED lights illuminate the restored Bichu Turret, the towering 45-meter-high stone walls, and the surrounding trees to paint a gorgeous scene of cherry blossom trees at night.
You’ll be spellbound at the event, where the magic of sound and projection mapping transforms the surroundings into an utterly entrancing setting. Picture this: animated cherry blossoms sweeping across the castle’s ancient stone walls and steps, with ethereal petals seeming to tumble gracefully into the water below. As you wander the castle grounds, you’ll be enveloped in an enchanting atmosphere that revolves around the event’s theme, “Illuminating Autumn with Cherry Blossoms of Light.”
Get your taste buds ready! An eclectic lineup of food trucks is there to serve you some of Tsuyama City’s finest flavors. And you absolutely can’t leave without trying the city’s soul food: the mouthwatering sozuri beef curry, made using beef meticulously scraped from the bone. Munch on local favorites as your eyes feast on the spellbinding illuminations.
- Event Period: September 15 - 24, 2023 (*The event is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2024 and thereafter.)
- Time: 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM (Last entry at 9 PM)
- Venue: Tsuyama Castle/Tsuruyama Park, 135 Sange, Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture 708-0022
- Inquiries: 0868-32-2082 (Tsuyama Tourism Campaign Promotion Council)
- Admission: High School students and older: 800 yen, Elementary and Junior High School students: 200 yen, Preschool children: free
More than just cherry blossoms! Other fun things to do in Tsuyama City
Tsuyama City has carefully preserved historic streets lined with traditional machiya townhouses that were built in the Edo period (1603-1868). Strolling among these landmark buildings, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a simpler time.
Shurakuen Garden (衆楽園), one of the most famous landmarks in Tsuyama City, was built in the early Edo period (1603-1868) for the Mori family, the feudal lords of Tsuyama. From the time the Matsudaira clan came to power (1698) until the end of the Edo period, the gardens were used to entertain visiting dignitaries and as a retreat for the feudal lord. Today, they are open to the public and are enjoyed by citizens and tourists alike for their breathtaking scenery, uniquely gorgeous in every season.
Step into a living history book as you explore the Joto District, which grew around Tsuyama Castle and has held onto its Edo-period charm (1603-1868). This area whispers tales of its former life as a bustling inn town along the ancient Izumo Kaido highway. So authentic and well-preserved is this district that it’s been officially designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Here, history doesn’t just speak—it echoes through the architecture and streets, offering a time-travel experience like no other.
As you explore the town, don’t miss the Joto Tourist Info Center Oranda-do (Dutch Hall). In addition to pamphlets and helpful tourist information, the center also offers a selection of Tsuyama City’s specialty products and handmade furniture for sale. You can take a break at the cafe inside the building with a cup of fresh-roasted coffee and a Dutch waffle.
Spring, fall, or any time of year, Tsuyama City in Okayama Prefecture is always the place to be
Tsuyama City in Okayama Prefecture is replete with stunning natural scenery and captivating historical landmarks, making it a destination sure to delight any visitor. Whether it’s the exquisite cherry blossoms in spring or the incredible Tsuyama Castle Night Illumination TSUYAMAGIC in autumn, there’s always something exciting happening in Tsuyama City.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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