烏城 The “Crow Castle” & the Age of Turbulence


IMG_4994

Okayama Castle 岡山城 (Okayama-jo) stands majestically by the Asahi River across the magnificent Koraku-en 後楽園 garden in central Okayama City, Japan.

IMG_4985

Bridge over the Asahi River that links Okayama-jo and Korakuen Garden.

IMG_5137

Views of Okayama-jo from Korakuen Garden.

IMG_5168

IMG_5365

The castle is also known as 烏城 (U-jo), the Crow Castle.  The dark exterior of the castle conjures up images of the black crow.

IMG_5143

Many crows also nest in the trees here and soar above the castle.

IMG_5130

The Crow Castle and its reflection on the surface of the river, as I saw it this morning.

IMG_5130 - Version 2

The same above photo of Okayama Castle flipped upside down.

IMG_5041 The original castle had been completed during the 16th century, in 1597, as the Azuchi-Momoyama period 安土桃山時代 (Azuchi-Momoyama jidai) of Japanese history was coming to a close.

IMG_5020

The Azuchi-Momoyama epoch is often referred to as the ‘Turbulent Age’, a time of turmoil just prior to the unification of the Japanese nation and people under Toyotomi Hiyedoshi.

IMG_5021

IMG_5031A distinguishing feature of Okayama Castle is the natural rounded stones that were used to construct the outer walls.  This method of wall construction is known as Nozura-zumi.

IMG_5022

Nozura-zumi is an earlier style of stone-walling in the history of castle building in Japan when large donjons became a regular characteristic of citadels.

IMG_5029

Stone stairs leading up and down one of the twenty-one gates of the citadel.

IMG_4999 - Version 2

A row of paper lanterns line the entrance of the castle.

IMG_5104

IMG_5047

It is November and the foliage has turned shades of crimson, orange, scarlet and gold while the evergreens remain true to their nature and continue to grow green in the castle garden.

IMG_5044

IMG_5112

Looking through the wall encircling the main castle grounds.

IMG_5106

IMG_5113

The emerald flow of the Asahi River seen through the castle walls.

IMG_5116

IMG_5109

The pale azure blue sky above us today.

IMG_5038

IMG_5048

The original castle keep had been destroyed during World War 2.

This is what war does.

IMG_5283 - Version 2

And yet, after gross destruction, the castle stands today because human beings chose to rebuild, elected to stand back up after a steep fall and make a decision to recover from the ravages of battle and heal the misery.

IMG_5050

This castle keep was newly rebuilt in 1966, already almost fifty years ago.

IMG_5063

You can climb to the top of the six floors inside the castle and view the city of Okayama below.

IMG_5086

Inside the main castle keep.

IMG_5087

IMG_5088

The palanquin of the Azuchi-Momoyama era used as a method of transport for the upper class.

IMG_5062

The famous fish gargoyles that adorn the rooftops of the castle were embellished in gold in celebration of the castle’s 400th year anniversary.

IMG_5284

How long is four hundred years?  How many seasons of turbulence?

IMG_5357

The Age of Turbulence for a nation, for a city, for a castle does come… then eventually, does go.

Turbulence does conclude and chaos does end.

IMG_7365

It is the same for the four seasons.

Because this is Nature.

IMG_7370

It is also the same as for human life.

As humans beings, we must inevitably witness turbulence and live through chaos.

Conflict is ordinary and turmoil is commonplace for we, too, are part of Nature.

IMG_7371

We are fundamentally a part of Nature.

IMG_5316


 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *