Cycle an ancient kingdom’s road lined with burial mounds, shrines, and fruit
Kibiji is an ancient road connecting Soja and Okayama, the central area of what was once the kingdom of Kibi. Traversing a vast plain, the path is level and ideal for cycling or walking. The path meanders past numerous sites of historical interest, but it is the scenic views of rice fields that make traveling the road so rewarding. This area is famous for its fruit, including strawberries, peaches, berries, and grapes, and during the harvest season, you should try some along the way.
Exploring the ancient Kibi Kingdom on two wheels
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience the gently winding Kibiji road is by bicycle. The road stretches between Soja and Okayama, offering a unique opportunity to explore the ancient Kibi Kingdom. Cycling allows you to immerse yourself in the historical and cultural significance of the area while enjoying the beautiful scenery. The road is well-maintained and easy to navigate, making it suitable for cyclists of all levels of experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a leisurely ride through the countryside, cycling the Kibiji road is a must-do activity.
The five-story pagoda at Bichu Kokubunji Temple
As you cycle along the Kibiji road, one of the first sights you’ll come across is the five-story pagoda at Bichu Kokubunji Temple. This magnificent structure dates back to the late Edo period and is the only five-storied pagoda in Okayama. It stands proudly amidst the fields of rice and flowers, offering a glimpse into the rich history of the region. The pagoda is especially enchanting during the winter months when it is illuminated, creating a magical atmosphere.
Fighting demons with Momotaro
Legend has it that Kibitsu-jinja Shrine is the birthplace of Momotaro, the famous Japanese folk hero who fought demons. The shrine is located on a hillside and is considered one of the most important shrines in Okayama. As you explore the shrine grounds, you’ll come across various statues and symbols associated with Momotaro’s story. It’s a fascinating place to learn about Japanese folklore and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Off the train and onto a bike
If you’re arriving in Okayama by train, the easiest way to access the Kibiji road is by taking the JR Hakubi Line to Soja Station. From there, you can rent a bike and begin your journey along the ancient road. Cycling allows you to travel at your own pace and explore the area at your leisure. The rental bikes are well-maintained and comfortable, making them perfect for a day of sightseeing. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider, the Kibiji road offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
A pagoda in the distance
As you pedal away from Soja Station, you’ll soon catch sight of the five-story pagoda at Bichu Kokubunji Temple. The pagoda stands tall above the surrounding landscape, serving as a landmark for travelers. Its elegant design and historical significance make it a must-see attraction along the Kibiji road. Take a moment to admire the pagoda and learn about its history before continuing your journey.
Burial mounds from the 4th and 5th centuries
One of the highlights of cycling the Kibiji road is the opportunity to explore numerous burial mounds dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries. These ancient tombs provide a glimpse into the past and offer a unique insight into the lives of the people who once inhabited the region. The Tsukuriyama Burial Mound is particularly impressive, with its pawn-like shape and extensive network of paths. Take some time to explore these burial mounds and appreciate their historical significance.
Seeking your fortune at Okayama’s most venerated shrine
Kibitsu-jinja Shrine is one of the most venerated shrines in Okayama and is known for its spiritual significance. Located on a hillside, the shrine offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. As you explore the shrine grounds, you’ll come across various rituals and traditions that have been passed down through generations. One of the most popular activities is writing a wish on a wooden plaque and hanging it around the shrine. This is believed to bring good fortune and blessings from the gods.
This is Peach Boy territory
The area surrounding Kibitsu-jinja Shrine is often referred to as Peach Boy territory. This is because many locations in the area are named after Kibitsuhiko no Mikoto, the legendary prince who defeated a demon and became known as Peach Boy. The story of Peach Boy is a beloved folktale in japan, and exploring the places associated with his legend is a fascinating experience.
Sample the fruits of the harvest
One of the highlights of traveling the Kibiji road is the opportunity to sample the fresh and delicious fruits of the region. The area is known for its bountiful harvests of strawberries, peaches, berries, and grapes. During the harvest season, you’ll find numerous farms and fruit stands along the road, offering a variety of tasty treats. Take a break from cycling and indulge in the flavors of the season. Whether you prefer juicy strawberries or sweet peaches, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds.
A worthwhile side trip
If you have extra time to spare, consider taking a side trip to Kinojo Castle. This ancient fortress is believed to have been built around 1,300 years ago and offers a glimpse into the region’s feudal past. The castle ruins are located on a hill and provide panoramic views of the surrounding plains. The walk up to the ruins is pleasant, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas once you reach the top. Kinojo Castle is best accessed from Soja, so it’s a good idea to visit before heading to Bizen-Ichinomiya in Okayama City.
In conclusion, cycling the Kibiji road is a unique and rewarding way to explore the ancient kingdom of Kibi. As you pedal along the path, you’ll encounter historical sites, scenic views, and delicious fruits. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a memorable adventure, the Kibiji road offers something for everyone. So grab a bike, hit the road, and embark on a journey through time and culture.
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