Bitchu Kokubunji is located at the edge of Soja City and can be easily accessed from Okayama or Kurashiki cities. It has a temple with a few attached older buildings but to the side stands the five story pagoda which is said to be the last pagoda to be built in Japan (1844).
The height of the pagoda is 34.32 meters and it looks over fields of rice and flowers. During the spring season there are a number of events to celebrate the end of winter and to welcome the warm weather and cherry blossoms. This season also sees the pagoda lit at night, which makes it a great destination for couples, friends and family who want to sit under the cherry trees and view the splendor of Japanese architecture. Look carefully and you will notice that each side of the pagoda has carved animals in the beams supporting the pagoda. Can you find them and recognize what these animals represent?
Soja City happens to be the city I have lived most of my life in Japan, and when I am moving around the city for work or doing my daily chores I am always fascinated by the beauty of the pagoda. It never disappoints me in delivering a spectacular view and I always see it in a different way every time, even after two decades. I have walked the grounds, made picnics and enjoyed the peaceful environment, I have participated in the annual drawing contest, ridden a bicycle doing the Kibi Bike Trail, taken friends and family to see it, and over the years I have made too many memories but know if you find yourself here you will also be able to make special memories too.
What I would say that if you are visiting Okayama, this should be a place you vi1sit, to unwind from your travels in Japan. The surrounding area has a number of other sights to see, large burial mounds, more temples that offer different stories and history as to why they were built and why they remain important for this region. Looking north to the top of the mountain you will see our famous castle called ‘Kinojo,’ which was home to many oni (demons) defeated in the legendary story of Momotaro (The Peach Boy).
From Soja Station it is about a 10 minute taxi ride (about 1200 yen) or you can catch the local bus (Yamate Bus getting off at Motenashi no Yakata) but you can say Kokubunjito the bus driver and he or she will know where to drop you. However, I do think the best way to see this area and many more historical sites close by is to hop on a bicycle and do the Kibi Bike Trail. Bike rental places are right next to the Soja train station and maps are provided. The trail is very clearly marked but even if you go off the trail you will be easily able to find your way around and back to where you need to be heading.
If you are coming to Japan, are in Japan or even in Okayama it's time to pack a bento and come out to Soja City and experience all this city has to offer.