Recommended tourist information

Soja and Kibitsu Areas

There are a number of historical ruins and places associated with legends and folklore in the Soja and Kibitsu districts. Kibiji Road is filled with good sightseeing spots such as the grand ancient Tsukuriyama tomb and a five-story pagoda called Bicchu Kokubun-ji temple. So, renting a bike and enjoying the pastoral view along the bike path is a good way to explore the district. Also, Saijo Inari, which is one of Japan's three most well-known Inari shrines and Bikitsu and Bikitsu-Hiko shrines are fun to explore.
Bicchu Kokubun-ji

Bicchu Kokubun-ji Temple in Soja City, Okayama, was originally erected at the request of Emperor Shomu in 741 for the spiritual protection of the country. This famous five-storied pagoda is designated as an Important Cultural Property.

Tsukuriyama Ancient Tomb

Tsukuriyama Ancient Tomb is circular with a rectangular front made during the Kofun period (300 - 538). The tomb mound is the 4th longest in Japan and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. This is the largest ancient tomb in Japan that allows visitors onto the property.

Takamatsu Saijo Inari

This combination temple and shrine is located among rice fields surrounded by beautiful scenery, with an enormous 27-meter-tall torii (gate). The official name of the shrine is "Saijo Inarisan Myokyo ji".
When Buddhism and Shintoism separated during the Meiji period, Saijo Inari was allowed to retain its custom of shinbutsu-shugo (mix of Shinto gods and Buddha). So Saijo Inari's unique point is that it has descended from Buddhism. Inari has a torii gate, which usually is seen at a shrine, and the inner shrine is reiko-den (Shinto style). They're all the relics of the time of syncretism between the Shinto gods and Buddha.

Kibitsu Shrine

Kibitsu Shrine is a grand shrine along the Sanyo Route and enshrines Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto as its main deity. According to Japan's oldest historical records (called Kojiki and Nihon-shoki), Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto was the leader of four generals of Shido, under Emperor Sujin, that established peace after defeating a group of rebels in the area. This was the foundation of the current culture in the Kibi area.
Since ancient times, this shrine has been respected as the great ancestor of the Kibi area, and has a gallant architectural style called "Kibitsu-style", known as a masterpiece of Japanese architecture. The shrine is also known for a Shinto ritual called Narugama, which tells fortunes by the sound of a metal caldron. The famous legend of Momotaro (Peach Boy) is also related to this shrine.

Kibitsuhiko Shrine

From ancient times the shrine had an enormous rock in the back that enshrines a god called Amatsu-Iwasaka or Iwakura. The mountain there called Kibi-no-Nakayama has itself been worshipped as a god.
During the reign of the tenth Emperor Sujin, Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto was assigned to rule the local area as one of the four generals of Shido and during the time he ruled the district, he worshipped at this mountain. Later he spent the end of his life at the eastern base of Kibi-no-Nakayama mountain. He deeply loved his district and the people there. Eventually the people began to worship him as a god for bringing good fortune to the area. This was the beginning of the Kibitsuhiko Shrine.
Later, as Buddhism spread in Japan, 51 gods became enshrined on the grounds and the fame of the shrine began to spread. The shrine was referred to as Kehi-jingu and (Taisha) Kibitsu-miya (grand shrine). The shrine became designated as Ippon-Ichimiya (highest rank) by the imperial court. After that, the shrine was worshipped at by both noble warlords and the common people.

Gokei Valley (limited season: autumn colors)

Gokei is a gorge located by the upper stream of the Makidani River which is a tributary of the Takahashi River, and spans from the northern end of Soja City to the Kibi Chuo district.
Here strangely shaped rocks and cliffs are the backdrop to a clear stream. This gorge was designated as Place of Scenic Beauty.
The enormous 330-meter-tall rock ridge is called Tenchu-zan, and is the most scenic spot. Other scenic spots are Ken-ga-mine and Untei-ho.
The autumn colors here are spectacular and attract countless visitors from in and outside of Okayama Prefecture.