Escape the city - Unwind when cycling the Kibi Plain - Photo diary

If you want to escape the busy city life or when you just want to have some relaxing activity instead of walking around all day... The Kibi Plain in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture might be a perfect half day trip.

Okayama City is the largest city in the Chugoku region after Hiroshima and is only 1,5 hour away from Kyoto and 45 minutes from Osaka. Besides the Kibi Plain it is a lovely city to stay in to explore the Okayama Prefecture, but that is not what this article is about, but I recommend you having a look into...

The Kibi Plain 

The Kibi Plain is a cycling area in the rural flatland of Okayama and is loaded with rice fields, temples and shrines.

How to get there

The Bizen-Ichinomiya Station, Soja Station and Okayama Station are connected by the JR Kibi Line (Sometimes also referred to as the Momotaro Line) and departs every 30 minutes. (The Route is covered by the Japan Rail Pass)

The Kibi Cycling Route

The Kibi Cycline Route is 18 kilometers long and stretches from Bizen-Ichinomiya Station to Soja Station. The route is featured around the famous local folktale of Momotaro (Peach Boy), which leads you by cycling past several temples each built representing a part of Momotaro's life.

The trip can be made in either direction, but the route is definitely easier if you start from Bizen-Ichinomiya Station in my opinion and I will explain why a little further down.
A simplified map of the trail - source: Japan-Guide.com
A bicycle can be rented from Soja station or Bizen-Ichinomiya Station. Both shops offer a bicycle for 1000 yen a day or a cheaper price  for 4 hours.
However, when renting the bicycle for only 4 hours you have to return the bicycle at the same shop, instead of being able to drop off your bicycle at the other end of the track!

My Experience


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When leaving the Bizen-Ichinomiya Station, you will only have to make two right turns and within 2minutes you will get to the KibitsuHiko Shrine. This shrine has a lot of Momotaro References and you can buy a lot of Temple related peach stuff here.
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After leaving the Kibitsuhiko Shrine you will have to cycle for about 2 kilometers until you reach the Kibitsu Shrine (No need to get off the path, you will just pass it when cycling the route). This shrine is famous because of the long corridors.
The Corridors
When leaving the Kibitsu Shrine there are several other temples along the way to explore, however, due to temple Fatique, I skipped some and just had a relaxing cycle among the rice paddies to the Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple.
My bike and the Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple Pagoda. A lovely place to take a brake
After leaving the Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple there is only about 5 kilometers left before arriving at the station. The Station is located in the center of Soja and therefore after leaving the temple there is only about 10 more minutes of Rural land before entering the city once again.
Lovely Day, lovely sunshine, lovely trip

The end.....

But this is not the end of this article....

Kibi Plain Cycling Map you get for free when renting your bicycle

A few hiccups

In this chapter I will explain a few hiccups with the map above which you might encounter when cycline the Kibi Plain.

For most of the route the Kibi Plain has some really easy signs (In English as seen in one of the photos above), but there are two parts which made me a bit confused when cycling and I'd like to share these points to make sure you won't get lost when cycling...

Right blue circle on the map above (photo source: Tripadvisor)

Hiccup 01:
About 1/3 in the cycling route you will have to pass under a construction of bridges near the water and you will see the sign above. Since, I also saw this sign and was confused which way to go I would like to share this point with you.
With your bike you will come from the lower red line and it left me confused to go right or left... And because of the Kanji of 'Kibiji' and the Kanji or the right path being the same I went that way..... WRONG! 
This way will lead you to the Bichutakamatsu Station as explained below, but to keep cycling the Kibi plain follow the path to the left and from the point where the arrow is you will see another sign indicating the 'Kibi Plain'.

Hiccup 02:
After leaving the Bitchu-Kokubunji Temple with the large 5-story pagoda, you will have to cycle a long way straight ahead in between the rice fields. However, at the end of the straight way you will find a red-white construction preventing you from keeping to go straight ahead. At this point you can go right for a few meters and that take a turn again and go straight once again or after going right you keep going (and sort of follow the road).... The signage at this point is somewhat poor and I didn't know which way to go, however I found out if you follow the road (Thus making the turn to the right and keep cycling the road) a sign will pop up shortly afterwards! 

Conclusion

The Kibi Plain has been a great relaxing way to spend my afternoon! I recommend all to do this route and with the tips I have given, I hope you will have an even more relaxed time cycling the Rice Fields of Japan!

Miki P