Wake Things to Do Tips by Rabbityama
Wake Things to Do: 10 reviews and 37 photos
One of Wake's most famous sites is the Wisteria Park (Fuji Koen). They make the claim to be Japan's number one place to see wisteria. I can't say whether it's true or not, but it may be true at least to say that Wake's Wisteria Park has the most variety of wisteria. Each tree is a different species native to a different part of Japan and some are even from other parts of the world. Most of them are purple, but some of the varieties have gorgeous pink blossoms, there are also nice white ones, and among the purple ones there are some that are quite obviously unique when you compare the flowers.
The wisteria seems to have an even shorter viewing period than the cherry blossoms, but Wake's homepage actually keeps track of how far along the blossoms are in their blooming. The best viewing time is said to be when they are at 70-80%. This is because they are so long that by the time the bottoms are in bloom the tops are sometimes dying so it's good to see them slightly before that. The pink variety actually blooms earlier than most of the others. I actually went two times so that I could see the pink blossoms and then see the full blooms of the rest.
The Wisteria Park is located to the right of Wake Shrine and the Wake History and Folk Museum. During the wisteria season they have a Wisteria Festival with many foodstalls and vendors, including wisteria ice cream, to make the experience even more enjoyable.
Those wanting to see the wisteria should plan to visit in late April to mid-May and go to Wake town's homepage during that time to check the status of the blossoms. Entrance during the festival is 300 yen.
Katatetsu Roman Kaido
The Katatetsu Roman Kaido is a cycling trail created from an abandoned train route. It was called the Katakami Line and ran from Bizen to Misaki. It was in operation from 1919 to 1991 and the cycling trail was opened in 2003.
Although the railway is gone one of the highlights of the course are all of the parts of the railway that have been preserved. From signs to tunnels to an actual station, it makes the bike ride nice and reminds you of its history.
In addition there are many other sites that it passes. From the start to the end there are temples, shrines, a dam, castle ruins, Shiroyama Park (with a rebuilt castle), onsen, rice terraces, etc. Most of these sites are not directly on the path but easy to detour and return to the biking course. The nature and mountains along the path are also scenic.
You can rent a bike at Wake Station for 300 yen. When you do it, let them know you want to ride the Katatetsu Roman Kaido and they should give you a map. On the back of the map/pamphlet there are phone numbers for hospitals in case you wreck or something happens.
The entire path can easily be done in a day. Just make sure you return the bike back to Wake Station before the bike rental closes (typically 6 but may vary by season).
The Nature Preservation Center in Wake is home to one of only a few Crane Sanctuaries in Japan. This is the highlight for most visitors. There are many red-crested cranes (tanchou) bread here. If you come at the right time of year you will even be able to see crane chicks. I came too early, so the mothers were still nesting, but I'd love to have seen them with their chicks!
The Nature Preservation Center has more than just the cranes though. There are many nature hikes, an attractive lake, lots of interesting butterflies and insects around, plants, and a nice learning center. The learning center is great for kids as well as adults. There are interactive exhibits, videos, and a nice show about dangerous predators. Other exhibits showcase the various wildlife and insects you can find in Okayama Prefecture, many of which live naturally within the area of the preservation center. They even have ancient mammoth fossils found in Okayama.
The Nature Preservation Center is free to visit.
Wake History and Folk Museum
The Wake History and Folk Museum is a small museum just outside Wake Shrine and the Wisteria Park dedicated to the history of Wake. Despite the size, the displays are actually quite nice. Many artifacts have been assembled to create the feeling of an old home while also displaying the objects in an attractive manner.
One of the highlights is the old currency which depicts Wake Kiyomaru, the town's most famous former resident. There is also a display showing how they made the statue of him that stands in front of Wake Shrine.
The museum also sells nice children's books with various local folktales in them.
Entrance to the museum is 200 yen.
Boar Guarding Wake Shrine
Wake Shrine has a history going back hundreds of years. The current shrine dates back to 1885. It was designated as one of Okayama's Prefectural Shrines in 1919 back when Japan had shrine rankings. All rankings, national and prefectural, were later abolished.
This is perhaps the first boar (inoshishi) shrine that I have visited. It was built in honor of Kiyomaru and the boars that guided him. Kiyomaru was a priest from Wake who was traveling to Usa Hachimangu Shrine in Kyushu and it is said that boars appeared to protect him and his mikoshi (portable shrine) during his journey and even guided him and carried him when he became tired.
There is a statue of Kiyomaru near the torii gate, and boar statues stand on each side both by the torii gate and in front of the shrine itself. They are said to still be protecting the shrine. Within the shrine grounds they also have encased actual stuffed boars.
The shrine is small but historic and interesting particularly for those whose zodiac sign is the boar (pig). It is also located by the Wake Museum of History and the Wisteria Park, so it's worth the visit, especially when the wisteria are in bloom!
Address: 1385 Fujino, Wake-cho
Former Government Building Site
If you explore Wake, you'll notice this large monument in the middle of the fields. The monument marks the spot where the former government building (like a city hall) once stood. Now most of the businesses in Wake are on the opposite side of the station and here there are only fields and houses. the trees around the monument have a distinct shape, which makes it even easier to find.
The Daimoku Iwa (Daimoku Rock) is one of the symbols of Wake town. It's a very large rock on the side of Wake's "Mt. Fuji". It's a natural stone that was carved with a phrase meaning roughly "Hail the Lotus Sutra", a Buddhist phrase offering praise of the famous Lotus Sutra. There are other rocks of this sort in Japan, but Wake's Daimoku Iwa is the nation's largest.
From Wake Station, the rock is a straight walk across the bridge. It's large, so you should see it once you get to/on the bridge and certainly once you've crossed it!
Anyoji Temple is one of the 48 Temples of the old Bizen Province. The temple has been burned down and rebuilt a few times over the years, so most of the current structures were built during the Meiji Period. The temple has a hidden Buddha only shown once every 33 years. It's located just past Yuka Shrine on the way to the Wisteria Park, so it's another nice stop on the way. It's free to roam the temple grounds.
Former Okuni Residence
The former Okuni Samurai House dates back to 1760. It's known for its unique architecture, specifically the roof and has been declared an Important Cultural Property. Unfortunately, unless you call to schedule a visit, you can only view it from the outside. Still, it's one of Wake's great historic buildings.
Yuka Shrine is a small shrine that is believed to have first been built in the 12th century but its origins are not known. The current shrine dates back to 1337. It's a nice stop along if you are biking (or walking) to the Wisteria Park or Wake Shrine from Wake Station.
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