Illuminated autumn leaves at Hofukuji Temple in Soja City

soja city, okayama prefecture, visitwestjapan
Photo source | Facebook Public Photos
Soja City
September to November

Houfuku-ji Temple is part of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism and tucked away in surprising seclusion in a rural yet residential section of Soja City. When you decide to visit Hofuku-ji, you soon realize that is isn’t easy to spot from any direction, not even from the main road.

It’s rather astounding that this relatively large complex of buildings has resisted the encroachment of modern society and the development that goes along with it for hundreds of years. Just by being there, you can easily imagine the world that the temple’s most famous pupil, the great painter Sesshu, would have known.

One of the most striking aspects of Houfuku-ji is its landscaping. It is dominated by perfectly manicured trees, especially maples. Accordingly, an event has been created to give the public an opportunity to enjoy the environment of the temple grounds.

For three days in mid-November, coinciding with the changing colors of the autumn leaves, there is an evening light-up event held at Houfuku-ji from 5:30pm to 9pm.

The light accentuates the reds, yellows and browns of the maple leaves, creating an earthy warm feeling. The lit temple buildings remind you of one of the night scenes from the famous Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away.

The local travel board initiated a free shuttle bus service from Soja City Hall to Houfuku-ji Temple, which offer some convenience if you are in the city center.

As far as accommodation, there are several hotels near Soja Station and just a short taxi ride way is the Pension and Spa, Sun Road Kibiji.

About the Area

Soja is an inland city in southwestern Okayama Prefecture. It is borders the cities of Okayama, Kurashiki, Takahashi and Ibara and the towns of Kibichuo and Yakage. This unique geographic position has meant that the city has always been deeply intertwined in regional cultural and political affairs.

With a name that literally means “all shrines”, it would be easy to assume that the city contains a lot of them and you would be correct. However, in many ways, Soja is very much a temple town, in that there are two major ones near the city center.

One of the most interesting parts of the city is the old shopping street that runs parallel to Route 180. There, you will find clues to life in the Meiji era in the stories told through its homes and storefronts.

Access: Take the Hakubi Line from JR Okayama Station to JR Soja Station. Hofuku-ji Temple is about a 10 minute taxi ride from JR Soja Station.

Cancellation Policy

1) Detailed tour information & conditions will be given after application is made; please read and confirm the final itinerary before the departure date.
2) Reservations: Fill out the application contact form; application is complete upon payment. Reservations accepted by phone, mail, fax, online, or other communicative methods. The contract is not valid at time of reservation; the customer will be asked to submit an application form and payment within 3 days from time of reservation. If application form and payment are not submitted within the term, the reservation shall be considered void.
3) Items not included in tour price: Transportation costs not included in itinerary, optional tour fees, excess baggage fees, any fees of a personal nature (phone bills, meal costs, etc.) Items excluded from the tour will be stated in the tour information.
4) Cancellation fees: When the application is cancelled by the customer or when payment has not been made by the specified date, Ryobi Tours shall receive a percentage of the per person tour fee as a cancellation fee, or a penalty fee. Differences in room charges that result from one person in a group cancelling shall be charged to the participating person(s).

Cancellation Date Up to 21 days prior 20-8 days prior 7-2 days prior Day prior to start of tour Day of tour After start of tour/non-participation with no contact
Cancellation Fee No charge 20% of tour fee 30% of tour fee 40% of tour fee 50% of tour fee 100% of tour fee