Mount Shosha (Engyoji Temple)
Retreat to beautiful fall foliage and temples on this mountainous, hidden gem in Himeji.By Lilly Seiler
Himeji Castle is always an obvious point of conversation when people discuss Himeji. But, if you’re looking for an adventure a little off the beaten path, pay a visit to Engyoji Temple on Mount Shosha.
Mount Shosha isn’t a widely known mountain and generally doesn’t attract many travelers. This makes it an exceptionally peaceful location to enjoy Japan’s lush nature and elaborate temple grounds. Visitors can leisurely view incredible fall foliage during the autumn season without the crowds.
Engyoji Temple boasts over a thousand years of its legacy and is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets. It is located on the summit of Mount Shosha, located on the outskirts of Himeji City. Only a brief side-trip from central Himeji, a trip to this temple takes approximately 30 minutes by bus and ropeway.
The structures on the temple complex are dispersed across a sizable, heavily wooded region on the mountain’s summit. The most notable one is the Maniden, a stunning wooden temple hall built upon pillars on a steep hillside. You can ascend the steps and take in the serene and ancient ambiance of the hall up close in person.
The edge of the hall is filled with a scene of beautiful trees that turn vibrant colors in the fall. After removing your shoes, you can freely explore this silent and scenic building that melds into the nature surrounding. Maniden exudes an atmosphere that feels as if time has stopped temporarily.
Maniden is about a 30-minute walk from the ropeway station. For those who want to skip the walk, there is a minibus available that runs every 20 minutes between the Maniden and the upper ropeway station which costs ¥500 roundtrip.
There are countless other sights to see at every corner of the mountain complex, including three enormous wooden temple buildings known as Mitsunodo. The Hollywood film “The Last Samurai,” actually featured scenes filmed in and around Mitsunodo’s halls. Mount Shosha is widely utilized as a setting for historical films and TV dramas because of its magnificent and traditional environment, which lacks any contemporary architecture on its temple grounds.
No matter which direction you walk or what path you choose, you are sure to stumble upon another gorgeous monument or some breathtaking vista points of Himeji city.