Shoshazan Engyoji Temple, meaning ‘Temple of the Complete Teachings’, is an atmospheric temple complex, which is spread over a forested area on the top of Mount Shosha and has a history of over 1,000 years. The temple is the 27th on the 33-sacred temple Kannon pilgrimage route in Saigoku and is one of the three most eminent training centres for the Tendai school of Buddhism.
The complex is located approximately five minutes from Sanroku Station, via ropeway, at the edge of Himeji City. The From the top of the ropeway the Kinki nature walk pathway leads visitors uphill to the Niōmon gate (main gate). The gate was built in the Edo period, in the year 1665, and the grounds beyond it are considered sacred.
The primeval forests of Mount Shosha creates a peaceful atmosphere, while some areas offer impressive views of the city of Himeji. The path is lined with Kannon statues and monuments, including a monument to novelist Shiina Rinzo and the monument of the pilgrimage.
Also found along the path are some of Engyō Temples’s sub-temples including Juryōin, where Emperor Goshirakawa stayed in 1174 after becoming a Buddhist priest. Juryōin is known to be one of the most revered sub-temples in Engyō Temple.
Gohōseki, also known as Benkei’s hand stone, can be seen. Legend has it that Ototen and Wakaten, two child geniuses, came down from heaven and landed on this stone to protect the temple.
The path continues to Yuya-bashi (Yuya, meaning ‘steam bath’, bashi, meaning ‘bridge’), which was originally built by Shōku, the founder of Engyōji. When Tadamasa Honda, the lord of Himeji Castle, came to Egyōji temple in 1617 he was astonished by the devastation of the temple and vowed to restore it. He started by rebuilding Yuya-bashi.
The Main Temple, Maniden, stands at the top of a steep flight of stairs at the other side of Yuya-bashi. It is a temple of Kannon worship and was originally built in 970 in the Butai-zukuri (stage-like) style. Near the Maniden is a small teahouse serving traditional, vegetarian, Buddhist cuisine.
Following the path to the left from the teahouse, visitors will reach the mausoleums of the Sakakibara, Honda and Matsudaira families. The five shrines within the Tomb of the Hondas are excellent examples of the stylistic transition of mausoleum construction during the Edo era.
Nearby is the Shōrō bell tower, which dates from the early 14th centre and is one of the oldest in Japan.
The Three Halls (Dai-ko-do, Jiki-do and Jōgyōdō complex) are some of the most recognisable sites from the Hollywood movie, The Last Samurai, as well as many domestic movie productions.
Mount Shosha can be reached from Himeji train station or Himeji Castle via the number 8 bus. The bus ride takes approximately 30 minutes, costs 270 yen per person (one way) and the ropeway is the last stop on the route. The ropeway departs every 15 minutes and costs 900 yen per person (roundtrip). Alternatively it is possible to hike up, which takes approximately an hour. The temple is open from 8:30 to 18:00 (varies by season) and costs 500 yen. The walk from the ropeway to Maniden takes around 30 minutes, alternatively a minibus operates between the ropeway station and Maniden every 20 minutes and costs 500 yen.
- Himeji Tourist Guide & Map
- Information signs on Mount Shosha