History of Okayama; Japan.Ancient Romance.
Momotaro is a symbol of Okayama. “The Ura Myth” is the root of an old tale, “Momotaro”, which has been passed on orally from generation to generation in the Kibiji District. http://www.okayama-japan.jp/momotaro_en.pdf The Kibiji District is an area with majestic ancient history and legendary stories. The myth of Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto and Ura passed down through the years, is said to have been the root of an old tale called “Momotaro”. The myth is as follows. “The Prince Ura of Kudara (Baekje: A country that existed from the 4th to 7th centuries in what is the present day Korean Peninsula), used to live in Kinojo (castle of the devil) and caused trouble for the people living in the village. In order to defeat Ura, Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto was delivered to Kinojo by the emperor’s government. After a blistering battle, Ura was defeated by Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto. In the old tale “Momotaro”, Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto is portrayed as Momotaro, and Ura is portrayed as the defeated devil. Kibitsuhiko Shrine which is still majestic now is said to have been occupied by Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto when he battled Ura. There are buildings and ceremonies in Kibitsu Shrine which come to us from the legend; Okama-den (palace) is the place in which the neck of Ura is said to have been buried, and the holy Yatate Ceremony is for warding off evil spirits. There are many places connected with the old tale as well, such as Yagui-no-miya (the place where an arrow shot by Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto and a rock thrown by Ura were said to have crashed and landed), Chisui-gawa (literary translated, “blood-sucking river”; after being shot out by Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto, the blood from Ura’s one eye was said to have colored this river red), and Koikui Shrine (a carp-eating shrine where Ura, who tried to escape by transforming himself into carp, was said to have been held in the mouth of Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto who had changed to a cormorant bird). ANCIENT SCENERY IS RECALLED – KIBI ROAD The heart will be enraptured by sights that bring ancient legends back to life. In addition to “Kibitsu Shrine”, with its beautiful main shrine (designated as a national treasure), many other notable sights and historic spots are scattered throughout the Kibiji District, which runs from the western fringe of Okayama City to the cities of Soja and Kurashiki. 【Bicchu Area】Kurashiki City Kibitsu Shrine An old shrine, representative of those in Okayama, enshrines Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto. There are many marvelous and glorious articles in this shrine, including the Hiyoku-irimoya style main building (a national treasure) and 400 meters of corridors. 【Bicchu Area】Soja City Kinojo (Castle of evils) Kinojo is the place where Ura is said to have lived. The castle is a full scale Korean style mountain castle surrounded by the castle wall whose total length is approximately 3Km. The foundation rocks for castle gates, flood gates, and warehouses were discovered. Onino-sashiage-iwa (rock) A grotto on top of a mountain approximately 3 km away from Kinojo. This is said to have been the house of Ura and was made by building up rocks into a series of tiers. 【Bicchu Area】 Soja City Bicchu Kokubunji Temple Impressive contrast between the temple and the seasonal scenery of Kibiji District. This temple, built in the Nara period (around 8 AD) and then rebuilt in the Edo period (around 18 AD), welcomes visitors to the tranquil, rural Kibiji District, showing off its beauty year round. The five-story pagoda, an important cultural asset of Japan, represents the best scenery in the Kibiji District. Especially in late April during the “Kibiji Astragalus Festival”, as the Astragalus flowers in the fields come into full bloom. This is a time many people come visit to see the nostalgic scenery of the temple and flowers. Flower Blooming Information Click here for a list of information on Okayama’s recommended flowers. Astragalus: Late April to early May Click here for the list of histories of Bizen Area. Click here for the list of histories of Bicchu Area.