The name "Kibiji" has not been established as a prominent tourist destination in Okayama Prefecture for a long time.
It is believed that Mr. Kanno Tsutomu, who was the Chief of the Cultural Affairs Division of the Okayama Prefectural Board of Education at the time in 1967, is the one who gave the name.
Mr. Kanno, originally from Soja City, wrote a description titled "About Kibiji Region" at the beginning of the book "Kibiji" published in 1967 by Okayama Bunko (Nihon Bunkyo Publishing).
The "Yamatoji" and "Izumoji" routes, which are compared to the "Kibiji" route, refer to the regions of "Yamato Province" and "Izumo Province" respectively, rather than specific roads. The "Kibi Province" is divided into four regions: "Bizen," "Mimasaka," "Bitchu," and "Bingo," making it a much larger area that cannot be compared to Yamato or Izumo.
"The reason for deliberately using the title 'Kibiji' is actually as follows:
1.The course itself follows the old Sanyo Road, and even considering the Kofun period, there are scattered tombs of powerful clans that likely controlled the entire Kibi Province, forming the center of Kibi Province at that time.
2.The Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto, mentioned in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, as well as the Kibitsu Shrine where the same deity is enshrined as the ancestral god of later generations and the Bizen Ichinomiya Shrine, are also located in this region.
3.Although it is during the Meiji era, a significant part of this region, including Soja City, has been named Kibi-gun and remains so to this day.
Apart from the third point, it is a fact that this area is not only significant from a local historical perspective but also contains densely preserved important historical sites from Japanese history. Furthermore, the environment still relatively retains the appearance of ancient times. Therefore, if interpreted narrowly, the term 'Kibiji' fits the best."
From January to September of 1971, the Sanyo Shimbun newspaper serialized a series titled "Kibiji."
In the same year, the serialized articles were published as a book titled "Kibiji" (Sanyo Education Series, Sanyo Shimbun Publishing).
During this time, prefectural high schools adopted district systems, and the district for Soja High School included Soja City, Takamatsu-cho, Ashimori-cho, Mabi-cho in Kibigun, Yamate Village, and Kiyone Village in Tsukubo-gun, closely matching the definition of "Kibiji" established by Mr. Kanno.
Afterward, with a focus on Soja City and Yamate Village, Okayama Prefecture and Okayama City have undertaken development and preservation efforts as part of their community revitalization initiatives, resulting in them becoming tourist destinations in Okayama Prefecture.
Particularly, the area around Kokubun-ji Temple has preserved its scenic beauty thanks to the dedicated efforts of the local community, maintaining an environment that is fitting to be called the "Kibiji" region to this day.
From the Meiji era to the Taisho and Showa eras, there has been a history of repeated mergers. Through the process of administrative changes in "Kibi-gum" and "Tsukubo-gun," we can understand how the name "Kibiji" came into being.
In the major municipal merger of the Heisei era from 2005 to 2007, the name "Kibi-gun" ceased to exist.
It is desirable for administrative divisions to be consolidated for the sake of administrative efficiency. However, the disappearance of inherited place names feels somewhat regrettable, as it carries a sense of loss.
Regarding the "Kibiji" region, it is now encompassed by Soja City, Okayama City, and Kurashiki City, and the place names associated with "Kibi" have disappeared.
In the major municipal mergers of the Heisei era, Kayō-cho in Jyōbō-gun and Kamogawa-cho in Mitsu-gun merged, establishing the new "Kaga-gun" and giving rise to "Kibichuō-cho." Positioned at the center of ancient "Kibi Province," "Kibichuō-cho" is an appropriate name. However, it should be noted that the "Kibi" in the "Kibiji" region, which is the theme of this website, belongs to a different category.
The only remaining place where the name "Kibi" is preserved is in the "JR Kibi Line." The origin of the name "Kibi" in the "JR Kibi Line" may be unknown to those born after the year 2000.