Our flight from Bangkok to Osaka arrived later in the evening so we stayed at the airport hotel. We found an ATM at the grocery store and did manage to get our ICOCA cards right away. These cards are great to have and you can use them for the subway, bus systems, vending machines, and some of the convenience stores. We also shipped one of our bags to Tokyo since we didn’t need it for our travels around Japan and the hotel kindly did the paperwork and sent it off for us. I will say that this is absolutely worth doing if you don’t want to have too much luggage while traveling, it only cost us $20 CAD to send it.
The next morning we were up early and headed straight for the JR Rail office to exchange our vouchers for our Japan Rail Passes, then we boarded the train for Himeji. We arrived in Himeji around lunch time and went straight to Mount Shosha. The bus was easy to catch right in front of the train station, and we were able to buy a combo ticket that included the round trip bus and roundtrip ropeway (gondola).
Mount Shosha is where the temple complex of Engyoji is located. This temple complex has a history that goes back over 1000 years. It’s also the place where some scenes from ‘The Last Samurai’ were filmed (one of my all time favourite movies). This is a beautiful area to visit outside the city and the cherry blossoms were budding but not quite open yet due to the higher elevation. On the ropeway we could see that the hillsides were covered with cherry blossom trees which made the hills look like a painting.
From the ropeway station we walked through the forest for around 15 minutes before reaching the Niomon Gate. We continued our walk to the first temple called Maniden, a beautiful wooden temple hall. I also really loved the fountain outside the temple and would love one of these at home!
We made our way to Mitsunodo, the structures were incredible! We could only go inside the building that was used for dining and lodging to see some temple treasures on display. The other buildings, the main hall and gymnasium, didn’t allow visitors inside.
There are nice walking trails here that take you to many smaller temples. Something we saw repeatedly were bibs on many of the statues. I read later that the bib is put on as a show of respect and also for protection in the afterlife. The person that puts the bib on also receives good karma for their afterlife.
It’s definitely worth while to spend some time here in the nature and enjoy the history of this peaceful and serene place.
Where we stayed: Comfort Hotel Himeji 👍
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel