Okayama, located near the southwestern tip of Honshu, is home to the famous Korakuen Garden, which is apparently included in some classic list of the “The Three Most Beautiful Gardens in Japan.”
Tsunamasa Ikeda, the local feudal lord, ordered its construction beginning in 1687. With one exception described below its appearance is much the same as it was during the Edo Period.
The name “Korakuen” comes from the 4-kanji aphorism “sen yuu kou raku” (“suffer now, pleasure later), implying that the garden was a well-earned reward for the samurai nobility who relaxed there.
The large guest house near the main entrance was used to entertain visiting dignitaries.
The back part of the garden, not visible from the main guest house, was originally planted with rice and tea. Most of this has since been converted to lawns and landscaping but some token plots remain.