A mountain, a movie set, a temple, and panoramic views across Himeji City
Mt. Shosha, located at the northern edge of Himeji City, is home to Engyoji, a temple that is over 1,000 years old. This mountain is not only a place of spiritual significance but also a popular tourist attraction due to its appearance in various period films, including “The Last Samurai.” Despite its somewhat remote location, Mt. Shosha is easily accessible by public transport, with a travel time of just 25 minutes.
To reach Mt. Shosha, visitors can take the number 8 bus to the Mt. Shosha Ropeway stop. From there, they can either take the ropeway into the mountains or enjoy a scenic hour-long hike up the slope. It is recommended to purchase the combined Shoshazan Ropeway ticket, which includes both the bus and ropeway fare, to save money.
Engyoji Temple, spread across the face of Mt. Shosha, is a complex of several temple buildings nestled within the dense forests of the mountain. Most of these buildings can be easily accessed by walking or taking a short bus ride from the upper ropeway station.
One of the notable features of Engyoji Temple is Niomon Gate, which is a 10-minute walk from the upper ropeway station. This gate serves as the entrance to the temple complex. Another significant structure is Maniden, a wooden temple built on stilt-like foundations on one of the steeper slopes of the mountain. Many pilgrims visit Maniden to receive scrolls stamped with the temple’s seal, seeking blessings and spiritual guidance.
Within a five-minute walk into the forests from the upper ropeway station, visitors will find three large temple halls. The first hall is Mitsunodo, a massive wooden main hall that showcases the grandeur and architectural beauty of the temple. Jikido, another hall, serves as a lodging and dining area for visitors and displays some of the temple’s treasures. Lastly, Jogyodo is the temple’s gymnasium.
Further along the path, there is an observation point that offers breathtaking panoramic views across Himeji City and several other temple buildings. Visitors can take in the stunning scenery and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Mt. Shosha.
For those interested in experiencing the local cuisine, Engyoji Temple offers shojin ryori, a type of vegetarian Buddhist cuisine. Served on Edo-period lacquerware, this traditional meal provides a unique dining experience. Additionally, there are accommodation options available for visitors who wish to stay overnight at Myokoin or Engyoji Kaikan, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the peaceful and serene atmosphere of the temple.
Mt. Shosha and Engyoji Temple are not only places of historical and cultural significance but also offer a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. The temple’s remote location, surrounded by nature, makes it an ideal destination for those seeking peace and spiritual enlightenment.
In conclusion, Mt. Shosha and Engyoji Temple in Himeji City provide a unique and immersive cultural experience. From the picturesque mountain views to the ancient temple complex, visitors can explore the rich history and spirituality of the region. Whether it’s admiring the architectural beauty of the temple halls, indulging in vegetarian Buddhist cuisine, or simply enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, a visit to Mt. Shosha and Engyoji Temple is a truly enriching experience.
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