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Kibi Plain: Cycle Through Sprawling Fields In The Countryside & Explore Ancient Tombs

Kibi Plain in Okayama

A stay in Okayama is often combined with a trip to the preserved canal area in Kurashiki, but most people don’t know that a short train ride will bring them to the less-explored Kibi Plain. Covered in endless lush paddy fields and historic spots along the way, the charming district can be explored via a beginner-friendly cycling trail.

Cycling route that stretches across scenic paddy fields

Kibi Plain - Bitchū-KokubunjiImage credit: @teeyana

Stretching from Soja to Bizen-Ichinomiya Station, the cycling route spans 17km across Kibi Plain. As it’s a beginner-friendly trail, it’s the perfect day trip for travellers who need a respite from the urban chaos of central Okayama City. 

Kibi Plain - Bitchū-KokubunjiImage credit: Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide

Named after the ancient clan of Kibi Province, Kibi Plain was the prosperous centre of the clan that ruled most of Okayama Prefecture in 4th century AD. 

Legend has it that Prince Kibitsuhiko was dispatched by the neighbouring Yamato clan to Kibi Plain to defeat an ogre. This heroic tale eventually formed the basis of Momotaro, the hero of the well-known Japanese folklore.

Kibi Plain - paddy fieldImage credit: Kibiji Rental Cycle

Well signposted and consisting of flat terrain throughout, the charming flatland is a breeze to cycle through, even for beginners. 

Kibi Plain - trainImage credit: @aki.yamamot

In particular, the designated route cuts through endless paddy fields and stunning countryside scenery – a plus for those who want a glimpse of cottagecore life.  

Kibi Plain Image credit: Xiu Ting Wong

Temples & ancient burial mounds along the way

Kibi Plain - Tsukuriyama Kofun burial moundTsukuriyama Kofun burial mound.
Image credit: Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide

Besides spending time in nature, Kibi Plain is also the perfect place to explore for history buffs as numerous temples and ancient burial mounds dot the area. 

The Tsukuriyama Kofun burial mound, a keyhole-shaped tumulus that measures a whopping 350m, is the 4th largest burial mound in Japan. Most cyclists make a pit stop here to explore the area.

Kibi Plain - Bitchū-Kokubunji with sunflowersImage credit: Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide

Venture further down the trail and you’ll spot the 5-storey pagoda of Bitchū-Kokubunji. With a field of seasonal flowers in the foreground, the centuries-old provincial temple is the unofficial symbol of Kibi Plain. 

Kibi Plain - kibitsu shrineImage credit: @koujitsusansouokayama

Said to be the place where Prince Kibitsuhiko fought the ogre, Kibitsu Shrine is famed for its 360m-long corridor that stretches out from the main hall. 

Kibi Plain - kinojo castle ruinsKinojo Castle Ruins.
Image credit: @_nikumakionigiri_

The castle ruins of Kinojo, perched at the summit of Mount Kinojo, require a detour from the trail and a few hours’ hike if you wish to explore the structure up close. Otherwise, on a clear day, you can admire the splendour of the historical landmark of Soja City from the cycling trail.

Getting to & around Kibi Plain

Kibi Plain - countrysideImage credit: Xiu Ting Wong

To embark on the cycling trail along Kibi Plain, start your trip at either Soja Station or Bizen-Ichinomiya Station, which can both be accessed from Okayama Station.

Getting to Soja Station from Okayama Station takes around 30 minutes via the JR Hakubi Line (¥510, ~USD3.67), or 40 minutes on the JR Kibi Line (¥420, ~USD3.02).

On the other hand, Bizen-Ichinomiya and Okayama Stations are connected by the JR Kibi Line, which costs ¥210 (~USD1.51) and takes around 10 minutes.

Kibi Plain - soja stationJR Soja Station.
Image credit: @urajya

Bicycles can be rented and dropped off at 3 locations, 2 of which are located at the abovementioned train stations respectively and 1 at the midway point of the trail, in front of Kokubunji. 

2 hours of bike rental cost ¥500 (~USD3.60). An additional ¥200 (~USD1.44) will be charged per hour if you need to extend your rental, and a whole day’s rental will cost you ¥1,500 (~USD10.80)

Those who need a little boost along the way can opt for the electric bikes, which cost ¥2,800 (~USD20.16) per hour. Do note that they can only be picked up and dropped off at Araki Rental Cycle, the rental shop located at Soja Station.

Araki Rental Cycle (JR Soja Station)
Address: 2 Chome-1-5 Ekimae, Soja, 719-1136 Okayama
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily (Mar-Oct) | 9am-5pm, Daily (Nov-Feb)
Contact: 0866-92-0233 | Araki Rental Cycle Website

Uedo Rental Cycle (JR Bizen-Ichinomiya Station)
Address: Ichinomiya, Kita Ward, 701-1211 Okayama
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily (Mar-Oct) | 9am-5pm, Daily (Nov-Feb)
Contact: 0862-84-2311

Takaya Rental Cycle (In front of Kokubunji)
Address: 368 Shuku, Soja, 719-1161 Okayama
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily (Mar-Oct) | 9am-5pm, Daily (Nov-Feb)
Contact: 0866-93-3421 

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Cover image adapted from (from left to right): @teeyana, Okayama Prefecture Official Tourism Guide and @aki.yamamot