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The Kibi Plain (gH, Kibiji) is a charming, rural flatland just outside of central Okayama City that is covered in sprawling fields and dotted with shrines, temples and small clusters of farmhouses. The plain is best explored from an attractive cycling trail which visits several historic sights along the way.

During the 4th century the Kibi Plain was the center of the Kibi Kingdom, an ancient clan that controlled much of modern day Okayama Prefecture and whose power rivaled that of the dominant Yamato Clan in today's Nara Prefecture. A few historic sights related to the kingdom, such as large burial mounds and some shrines, can be found scattered around the plain.

The kingdom is known for the Legend of Prince Kibitsuhiko, a prince from the rivaling Yamato Clan who was dispatched to the Kibi Kingdom to defeat a tyrannical ogre and pacified the Kibi Region. This legend became the foundation of the even more famous local folktale of Momotaro, which chronicles the journey of a small boy, born of a peach, who defeats a band of ogres who were terrorizing the countryside from a nearby island (sometimes associated with Megijima Island).

A popular 17 kilometer long cycling route leads through the Kibi Plain between Bizen-Ichinomiya and Soja Stations. The route loosely follows the legend of Prince Kibitsuhiko and passes several important shrines, temples and burial mounds along the way. The trip can be made in either direction, but the route is a little bit easier to find if starting from Bizen-Ichinomiya Station. Bicycles can be rented at either station and can be dropped off at the other end or at the rental shop near Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple.

Bizen-Ichinomiya Station

A bicycle rental shop can be found next to Bizen-Ichinomiya Station, from where you can rent single speed "mama chari" bicycles for the ride across the Kibi Plain.

350 meters

Kibitsuhiko Shrine

Hours: 6:00 to 18:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Kibitsuhiko Shrine stands on the spot where Prince Kibitsuhiko is said to have stopped to pray before launching his assault on the ogre. The shrine was built in 1697 and is dedicated to the prince.

1.7 kilometers

Kibitsu Shrine

Hours: Always open
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
The former head shrine of the Kibi Kingdom, Kibitsu Shrine is the most important shrine in the region. It features long covered corridors and a beautiful main hall that stands out from the mountain. Prince Kibitsuhiko is said to have battled the ogre here, piercing one of the ogre's eyes with an arrow and prompting the ogre to turn into a bird and fly away.

3.5 kilometers

Koikui Shrine

Hours: Always open
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Koikui Shrine (literally "carp eating shrine") is a small, unmanned shrine, which marks the location where Prince Kibitsuhiko eventually subdued the ogre. After the ogre fled as a bird, the prince changed into a hawk to hunt him down. Subsequently, the ogre made the fatal mistake of changing into a carp, while the prince turned into a cormorant.

3.7 kilometers

Tsukuriyama Kofun

The Kibi Plain is home to several burial mounds (kofun) which were built during the Kofun Period (300 to 538). Tsukuriyama Kofun is the largest in the region, and was the largest kofun in Japan at the time of its construction. Visitors can climb the steps up the mound to a small shrine at the top. There is also a trail along the top of the kofun that offers nice views over the surrounding plain.

2.3 kilometers

Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple

Hours: 7:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple is a large temple, which was founded as the provincial temple of the Kibi Region in 741. It features a 34 meter tall, five story pagoda. Another bicycle rental shop is located nearby.

5 kilometers

Soja Station

The last five kilometers of the route from Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple lead through fields and the town to Soja Station. Bicycles can be dropped off at the bicycle rental shop in front of the station.

Getting there and around

Bicycle rental shops can be found in front of Bizen-Ichinomiya Station and Soja Station and near Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple. They are open daily from 9:00 to 18:00. One-day rentals costs 1100 yen and allow bicycles to be dropped off at any of the three locations. Hourly rentals are also available (500 yen for two hours, 210 yen each additional hour) but do not allow drop off in a different location.

How to get to Bizen-Ichinomiya Station

Okayama and Bizen-Ichinomiya Stations are connected by the JR Kibi Line (aka Momotaro Line) every 30 minutes. The one way trip takes about 10 minutes, costs 210 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

How to get to Soja Station

Okayama and Soja Stations are connected by twice hourly trains along the JR Kibi Line (aka Momotaro Line, 35-40 minutes, 420 yen) or by once or twice hourly trains via the JR Hakubi Line (30 minutes, 510 yen). Both routes are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

How to get to Okayama

Hotels around Okayama

Top rated in Okayama
Budget:
    • Panda Stay Okayama
      Budget-friendly
      Offering free WiFi and free private parking, Panda Stay Okayama is situated in Okayama, just less than 1 km from Shimoishii Park. The air-conditioned accommodation is 1 km from AEON Mall Okayama. The holiday home has 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a microwave and a fridge, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a bidet. Popular points of interest near the holiday home include Momotaro Statue, Rokkosei Memorial Statue and Okayama Baptist Church. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 13 km from Panda Stay Okayama.
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    • Guest House MEETS Okayama
      Budget-friendly
      Situated within 200 metres of Tanukian Bunko Art Museum and 600 metres of Houkancho Shopping Street, QXgnEX MEETS R offers rooms in Okayama. This property is located a short distance from attractions such as Kuni Shrine. The property is set less than 1 km from Momotaro Statue and a 10-minute walk from Rokkosei Memorial Statue. AEON Mall Okayama is less than 1 km from QXgnEX MEETS R, while Sky Mall 21 Shopping Street is a 13-minute walk away. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 11 km from the accommodation.
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    • Hotel Granvia Okayama
      Luxury
      Directly connected to JR Okayama Station, Granvia Okayama is a 15-minute train ride from Kurashiki. It offers restaurants with 19th-floor views, an indoor pool with a sauna, as well as rooms with free WiFi and free wired internet. Each air-conditioned room at Hotel Granvia Okayama is equipped with bath and shower facilities, a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer. All rooms are also fitted with an electric kettle. The hotel is a 5-minute drive from Koraku-en Garden and Okayama Castle. An hourfs train ride takes guests to Shikoku Island. Kibitsu Shrine is a 20-minute drive away. French cuisine is served at Prix d'Or Restaurant, featuring panoramic views. Kibizen Restaurant offers seasonal Japanese foods. Chinese dishes and teppan-yaki are also available. Sky Lounge Applause offers beautiful views from floor-to-ceiling windows.
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    • Okayama Koraku Hotel
      Mid-range
      Just a 5-minute walk from JR Okayama Train Station, Okayama Koraku Hotel offers modern rooms with free wired internet and a flat-screen TV. Guests can enjoy massages and free-use bicycles. This hotel was selected as one of the Top Romance Hotels in Japan by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award 2015. The air-conditioned rooms at Koraku Hotel include a private bathroom with bathtub and amenities. Slippers, a fridge and a seating area are provided. Each room has a humidifier. Nishigawa Ryokudo Koen Tram Station is just a 1-minute walk from the hotel. Okayama Castle is 1.5 km away, and Okayama Koraku-en Garden is about a 15-minute walk away. The 24-hour reception offers luggage storage. A free-use microwave and coin-operated launderette are provided. TOMOE Restaurant offers a buffet-style breakfast featuring Japanese and Western dishes from 06:30-10:00.
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    • GRAND BASE Okayama Ekimae
      Mid-range
      Situated in Okayama, near Sky Mall 21 Shopping Street, Komori Shrine and Nishigawa Canal Park, GRAND BASE Okayama Ekimae features free WiFi. Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with bidet, a hairdryer and free toiletries. A microwave, a fridge and stovetop are also available, as well as a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Kochin-ji Temple, Rokkosei Memorial Statue and Kotohira Shrine. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 12 km from GRAND BASE Okayama Ekimae.
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    • Hotel Abest Grande Okayama
      Mid-range
      Featuring a fitness centre, bar, shared lounge and free WiFi, Hotel Abest Grande Okayama is set in Okayama, 200 metres from Nishigawa Canal Park and 400 metres from Komori Shrine. The property is situated 700 metres from Okayama-ji Temple, 700 metres from Kochin-ji Temple and 700 metres from Kotohira Shrine. The hotel features family rooms. Guests at the hotel can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Hotel Abest Grande Okayama offers 3-star accommodation with a sauna. Guests will find a 24-hour front desk, a business centre and laundry service at the property. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Sky Mall 21 Shopping Street, Yakushi-in Temple and Kongo-ji Temple. The nearest airport is Okayama Airport, 12 km from Hotel Abest Grande Okayama.
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    • Torii-Kuguru
      Budget-friendly
      Opened in July 2013, Torii-Kuguru offers free Wi-Fi, bicycle rentals and a launderette. This non-smoking property features a garden and a shared kitchen, a 10-minute walk from JR Okayama Station. Guests can relax in a shared lounge with a bar. The hotel has private rooms with Japanese futon bedding on a wooden floor. All rooms are air-conditioned and have heating facilities, while toilets and bathrooms are shared. From hotel Torii-Kuguru itfs only a 10-minute drive to Okayama Castle or Korakuen Park.
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    • ANA Crowne Plaza Okayama, an IHG Hotel
      Luxury
      Located in downtown Okayama, ANA Crowne Plaza Okayama offers comfortable and bright rooms with free WiFi, only a 1-minute walk from JR Okayama Station West Exit. It features 3 dining options and a 24-hour reception, while concierge services and currency exchange are available. Okayama ANA Crowne Plaza is a few steps from the Okayama Convention Centre and the well-known Takashimaya department store. The Koraku-en is a 10-minute taxi ride, and Okayama Airport is a 30-minute drive. Rooms have an interior in relaxing beige tones, with contrasting dark wooden furnishings and curtains. They come with wide and extra-long beds, a flat-screen TV and a refrigerator. A safe, nightwear and toiletries are provided. The Hotel ANA Crowne Plaza provides laundry services and luggage storage. The lobby offers free WiFi, and rental facilities are available for in-room use, such as a DVD player, an air humidifier or a trouser press. A car rental company is in the same building, and a minimart can be found next door. Japanese dishes can be enjoyed at the backdrop of the city skyline, at top-floor Japanese restaurant Kuriya-Sen. Lounge SEN is also located on the 20th floor. Casual Dining Urbano serves Western dishes.
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    • Lazy House
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Okayama, within less than 1 km of Shimoishii Park and a 12-minute walk of AEON Mall Okayama, Lazy House provides accommodation with barbecue facilities and free WiFi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who drive. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. At the guest house each room is fitted with a private bathroom. An Asian breakfast is available daily at Lazy House. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Okayama Baptist Church, Momotaro Statue and Rokkosei Memorial Statue. The nearest airport is Okayama, 12 km from Lazy House, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
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    • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Okayama Ekimae
      Mid-range
      Only a 2-minute walk from JR Okayama Train Station, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Okayama Ekimae offers modern accommodations with free WiFi. The air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV with video-on-demand system, a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Includes an air purifier/humidifier and a trouser press, while sleepwear and toothbrush sets are provided for all guests. The en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer. Rental laptops and dry cleaning services are offered at the 24-hour front desk. A coin-launderette is on-site and a free-use PC is provided at the lobby. Western dishes are served for lunch and dinner at the Resort Restaurant. Japanese dishes are available at Tsuki no Utage as well. Okayama Ekimae Daiwa Roynet Hotel is a 20-minute walk from Okayama Castle and Kouraku-en Garden. Okayama Airport is a 40-minute drive away. An electronics store Bic Camera is located in the same building.
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