30 April, 2013

Himeji: The Road to Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha.

Written by Yuka
Himeji Castle is undoubtedly the most iconic attraction of Himeji City, Hyogo. At present, the Japan’s greatest castle has been under five-year restoration process. Some of you, therefore, might hesitate to visit Himeji due to the construction. Well, Himeji is a gem and they have plenty to offer other than the castle. I’d like to introduce some of Himeji’s charms today. One place that is definitely worth a pilgrimage is Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha which is a film location of the Hollywood movie The Last Samurai. Here’s guide and some tips to enjoy a journey to the thousand-year old temple. 

Himeji can be easily reached by JR or Sanyo Railways from Kobe/Sannomiya or Osaka. When you get to JR Himeji Station, you’ll spot a nice tourist information center. Guides and maps of foreign languages, and Internet are available here. Friendly staff are on hand to offer you helpful advice and information to help you make the most of your trip.

Hungry in the morning?

 Locals' favourite breakfast Almond Butter Bread. Yummy!

Head to the Shinki Bus Terminal located in the Sanyo Department Store. If you get to Himeji by Sanyo Railway, you’ll find the bus terminal in the direction of JR Himeji Station.

 Purchase a Rould Trip Transportation Ticket for Mt. Shosha Ropeway and Bus ticket from the ticket office at the bus terminal.
Four tear-off tickets for 1,300 yen.  Show your bus driver when you get off the bus.
Wait here until the boarding gate opens three minutes before leaving.
The bus runs every 20 minutes on weekdays and 15 minutes on weekends. It is a 30-minute journey to the final stop Shosha Ropeway. It is pretty interesting to see local schools and people along the way.
If you visit Himeji Castle and museums around the area, hop on Himeji Castle Loop Bus at the bus terminal. You can go as much as you like at any of the bus stops on the route with One Day Pass for 350 yen. ( http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/info/access.html )

Beautiful Shosha Ropeway Station.

Find this boarding gate sign.
Pick up English guides before boarding on a cable car.

Spectacular view from the cable car. You could see Himeji Castle!

Right or left? To the right.

Pay 500 yen at this reception. She gives you an English walking map.

Now, it's about time to explore Engyo-ji Temple. Roads are a bit bumpy. Make sure you're in suitable shoes.
Jihi no Kane (the Bell of Compassion)
You are to greet Buddhist gods by ringing bells. It’s believed that ringing this bell makes you happy.
Different shapes of Kannon-sama (Guan Yin).
You'll find an impressive gate Niou-mon.

This is a principal buidling of the temple, Maniden. Burned down in 1921, it was rebuilt in 1932.
A thousand year old architecture.
How to pray for gods in Japanese Buddhism; Throw a coin into the box and shake the rope with a bell.
Fortune-telling papers called Omikuji are  popular at the temple. Tying the paper after reading it is a tradition. Japanese amulets Omamori make perfect souvenirs. I picked a study-dedicated Omamori for my brother :)
Next up is a film location of the Last Samurai!
This is the place the movie was actually filmed. Three great buidings Daikodo, Jikido, Jogyodo.
Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe was sitting right here in the film!
There is a exhibition of treasures in the second floor.
  Graves of historical owners of Himeji Castle.

You can stay overnight and eat lunch at this Engyo-ji Kaikan on Mt. Shosha.
Room rate: 7,350 yen per night and lunch is available  from 1,575 yen.
Advance bookings required.  Call: 079-266-3240 or E-mail: kaikan@shosha.or.jp

Engyo-ji Temple has 15 buildings and offers a wonderful view from the top. Cherry blossoms and autumn foliage seasons are the busiest times of the year here. It's almost time to go back to the Himeji station!
Himeji has been known as a historic city, but the city isn't all about its history. Restored department store Piole opened its door today. This is the place you want all your shops under one roof. There are underground shopping and restaurants and also a large shopping street called Miyuki Street nearby.
Himeji is one of my favourite cities to visit. I love the sense of history, both recent and ancient. It's definitely a must-see place to enjoy the beautiful sights you'll see at every corner in every season.

 Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha
Website:  http://www.shosha.or.jp/ (Japanese only)
Hyogo Tourism Guide: http://www.hyogo-tourism.jp/english/spot/67_engyoji.html

Location: 2968, Shosha, Himeji

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