Soja city is located in the mid-south of Okayama prefecture, an area that was once the center of the ancient Kibi province. It is also the place where the provincial capital of Bicchu province was located after the divide of Kibi province, and as such is well known for its historical sights and ruins.
Tsukuriyama, an ancient tomb, is found in a thick forest at the end of this road.
If you look to the east, you can see Bitchu Kokubunji Temple’s 5-storey pagoda.
Among all the historical sights in the area, Bitchu Kokubunji Temple, the symbol of Soja, is one you simply cannot miss.
Standing among the paddy fields, the 5-storey pagoda looks somewhat lonely, and extremely beautiful.
Picturesque whatever the season: In the spring the area is covered with rapeseed flowers, during autumn with the beauty of autumn foliage, and June, green seedlings and purple hydrangea accent the view.
Bitchu Kokubunji Temple was established in 741 upon the orders of Emperor Shomu.
However, the structures we see today are part of Nisshozan Kokubunji Temple, which was rebuilt during the Edo period.
As the slender, narrowly built 5-storey pagoda was originally supposed to be a 3-stories, the first, second and third floors are constructed of Japanese zelkova timber. The 4th and 5th floors are constructed of pine.
Meant only for bicycles and pedestrians, in front of the temple there is a prefectural road generally known as the Kibi Bike Trail.
Stretching from Okayama city to Soja city, the Kibi Bike Trail is a great way to see the sights. Renting a bicycle and going for some relaxed cycling is a lot of fun.
Incidentally, while we’re talking about the Kibi Bike Trail, here’s an interesting fact:
The Japanese crane hatched on April 29th, 2015 at Kibijitsuru no Sato, which is located about 2km from Kokubunji Temple, was named Kibiji (‘Kibi trail’)
Less than 2 months after hatching, Kibiji is already this elegant! Its motions when picking food already resemble those of a grown bird.
Around August, it will most probably have started to practice flying. In addition to touring the historical sites, come by to observe some of Japan’s protected species up close.
Bitchu Kokubunji Temple
Location: 1046 Kanbayashi, Soja city, Okayama prefecture
Access: Around a 15-minute taxi ride from Soja station (JR Hakubi line) / 20 minutes by Soja Yamate Bus (Get off at the Kibiji Motenashi no Yakata stop) / 10-minutes drive from Okayama expressway, Okayama Soja interchange / 10-minutes drive from Sanyo expressway Kurashiki interchange
Tourist Guide Center opening hours: 10AM – 4PM
Kibijitsuru no Sato
Website: http://www2.kct.ne.jp/~turu/ (Japanese)
Location: 1430-1 Misu, Soja city, Okayama prefecture (Adjoined with Hotel Sunroad Kibiji)
Access: Around 10-minutes by taxi from JR Hakubi line Soja station / 10-minute drive from Okayama expressway Okayama Soja interchange / 10-minute drive from Sanyo expressway Kurashiki interchange
Parking: Toll-free parking available at Sunroad Kibiji
Hours: 7AM – 5PM
Admission: Free of charge
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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