Mt. Shosha is located around a 20-minute drive from Himeji train station. From the ropeway leading to the top, beyond the rich, green landscape of the mountain, you can enjoy delightful views over the city and the Seto Inland Sea.
Well known as a practice/training dojo under the Tendai sect, Mt. Shosha’s Engyou-ji temple is a 10-minute walk along the mountaintop.
Its status among Buddhist temples is high enough for it to be called the ‘Mt. Hiei of the West’. Among the 33 temples of the Kinki area, it is the largest temple containing the statue of Avalokitesvara. In the Japanese Middle Ages it was named as one of the three great dojos of the Tendai sect, along with Mt. Hiei (Kyoto) and Ooyama.
In addition, although with a local color far from Kyoto, the temple gathered many believers from the imperial family and the nobles. Many, both ruling and former emperors, from Emperor Go-Shirakawa to Emperor Go-Daigo, apparently frequented the temple.
The area is also well known as the shooting location for the Hollywood film, Last Samurai. The reason why the film director was so pleased was apparently due to the historical ambience in harmony with the building standing in the middle of the untouched natural environment.
When you actually set foot in the area, you understand well – a very comfortable harmony is maintained between nature and the temple.
You can feel how temple residents, generation after generation, with an undying affection for Mt. Shosha, treated nature and things with great care.
At Mt. Shosha, the natural environment, the building, everything is of significant cultural importance.
Standing quite near Engyou-ji, sub-temple Tacchu Juryouin has been designated one of Japan’s Important Cultural Properties.
Constructed in the traditional Japanese residential style in the mid-Edo period, even emperor Go-Shirakawa once stayed there, apparently!
When sitting down gently on the floor and looking out to the garden, you feel as though you’ve slipped back in time.
It feels as if the air flowing around you hasn’t changed for centuries.
Here you can enjoy fantastic Honzen-ryori (high-grade Japanese cuisine), served from beautiful lacquered tableware.
Reproducing dishes that were served to high priests around 500 years ago, the food is prepared based on ancient Japanese documents. The dishes change according to season and offer a delightful insight into Japan’s deep food culture.
The photo below shows green tea and a traditional Japanese desert served at the end of the meal.
(From April to November, lunch is offered by reservation only for 5 or more guests.)
During the current season, you can also enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage. The face of Mt. Shosha changes according to the season.
It is a place to relax and spend a calm, refined moment amid the carefully protected natural environment and ancient buildings.
Once a month, Engyouji-temple offers a one-day Zen meditation-training course.
Mt. Shasho, Engyou-ji Temple
Address: Shasho 2968, Himeji city, Hyogo Prefecture
Access: From JR Himeji Station, take Shinki Bus number 8 (25 minutes), or go by taxi. Get off at the last stop, switch to the ropeway and continue for 4 minutes. Get off at Sanjo station and walk 10 minutes.
Mt. Shasho, Juryouin (Honzen reservations)
Tel : 079-266-3553
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yoko Suganami (Rainbow Sake Co., Ltd.)
Yoko Suganami Rainbow Sake, Inc. After an extended stay in Hawaii, in 2011, I returned to my hometown of Kure, Hiroshima. Having worked at advertising companies in both Japan and Hawaii, I founded Rainbow Sake - a PR company with the goal of spreading Sake abroad. I hope that sake will ""bring the people of the world together"" and that I can be a part of that. I often travel abroad, and mostly to Hawaii and Singapore. Every time I come back home, I rediscover the beauty of my hometown and the happiness the easygoing, calm, fresh and simple sea and mountains of Setouchi bring.
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