A short trip away from central Himeji you will find Shoshazan and Engyoji, a mountain with a magnificent temple area on top exuding an atmosphere of bygone days.
Once you disembark from the cable car that takes you up the hillside and pass through the entrance to the temple grounds, it immediately feels like you’ve been transported back in time. There are no paved roads around here, and the number of cars passing you as you walk along the narrow dirt road leading to the main temple buildings are so few that you will most likely be able to easily count them on one hand.
This massive temple complex has a history of over 1,000 years, and it feels like very little has changed throughout those years. There are hardly any modern buildings or structures to be seen, and the lush forest that surrounds you looks as if it has never been touched by human hands.
After walking along the main road/hiking trail for about 15 minutes, and admiring both the many Buddhist statues that are placed along the road and the magnificent view of Himeji and the Seto Inland Sea far below, you will eventually reach Maniden. This impressive temple hall, located on a steep slope and supported by numerous wooden pillars, is a good example of things to come. There is a small café and soba restaurant located here too, making this a good place to rest and catch your breath after the hike from the station.
Continue down the path and you will find yourself at Mitsunodo, consisting of three massive buildings – Daikodo which is the main hall, Jikido which used to be a lodging hall, and Jogyodo which used to be a gymnasium back in the day. All of these are made out of unpainted wood and there is a spacious plaza in front of them. On the second floor of Jikido you will find a small museum where ancient temple treasures are on display. Once you are done at Mitsunodo, the path continues even further and will take you to several additional temple structures, as well as another viewpoint.
Engyoji is famous for being the setting where many popular movies and TV dramas have been shot. The most well known, at least to a Western audience, is probably “The Last Samurai” from 2003.
To get here by public transportation, you first have to take a bus to the cable car station located about 10 kilometers north-west of Himeji station, and the ride takes about 15 minutes. From there, the cable car runs every 20 minutes. It is also possible to hike up the mountain, as it is not very steep.
If you’re planning to visit this amazing mountain temple, it might be good to know that there’s a “Shoshazan Ropeway combination ticket” on sale at the bus terminal in front of Himeji station that covers the entire round trip by bus and ropeway for 1,300 yen, saving you a few hundred yen compared to purchasing the tickets separately.
The temple grounds are open from 8:30 to 18:00 (spring to autumn),17:00(winter) and the entrance fee is 500 yen.
- 8:30-17:00 (RopewayGo throughHours is depending on the season)
Open the mapCheck access information
- open everyday