Kanonji (観音寺)

Kanonji
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Zenigata.

Just south of Marugame, Kan-onji has a lot to offer, especially for those with an affinity for nature. The city is surrounded by rice paddies, and a temple or shrine is within throwing distance of almost any location. With a nearby beach, a waterfall, and several merging rivers, you have the modern conveniences of a town, but still feel like you are in the country.

Sights to See

Zenigata

Kan-onji is perhaps most famous for its giant Zenigata, or sand coin, which is roughly the size of a soccer field and is lit by an eerie green light after dusk. There are several stories to how the Zenigata came to be. One of the most popular is dated to 1633, in which the zenigata was made for the Daimyo of Sanuki, Ikoma Takatoshi (the founder of Ritsurin Koen), in only one night by the local community. Another story states that the Zenigata has more supernatural roots, while others believe that the Zenigata is a more recent development in order to draw in more tourists to the area. In order for the coin to maintain its shape, the Kan-onji community holds a big restoration party every spring.

The 66th temple - Unpenji
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Lot's of Buddhist statues.

88 Temple Pilgrimage: Shikoku Henro

Kanonji is home to the 66th, 67th, 68th, 69th and 70th of the 88 temples of the Shikoku Henro. With an early start and late finish, it is possible to do all 5 temples in one day.

66-Unpenji (雲辺寺)

Although a climb to get there (unless you take the ropeway), Unpenji provides a great view of the valley and a great way to experience part of the pilgrimage. It makes a beautiful day hike.

67-Daikōji (大興寺)

At the bottom of the hill after Unpenji, and another temple to visit! After Unpenji, it is a bit of a let down, but still nice. The sakura here are also quite nice in spring.

68 -Jinnein (神恵院) and 69 Kan'onji (観音寺)

These are the only two temples in the whole pilgraimge that share the same space. You can walk from one to the other in only minutes. These temples are also close to Kotohiki Koen, the Zenigata and several other shrines including Kotohiki Hachiman-gu.

70-Motoyamaji (本山寺)

With a spectacular pagoda marking your arrival, Motoyamaji is worth a visit if you are in the area.

Kotohiki Kaido

If you are looking for a place to relax, it is hard to beat Kan-onji's onsen. Right next to the ocean, it is the perfect place to watch the sunset on a cold day.

Fudono Taki

Only a few kilometers from Motoyama-ji, Fudonotaki is a park that is worth the detour! With a small waterfall at the apex of the park, and one of the best playgrounds in the area, it is a perfect place for hanami in the springtime

Suggested Hanami Locations for Late March/Early April

1.) Shuinde Yama
Although technically past Nio to the North, Shuinde Yama is worth the drive, cycle, or long walk out to the park. Once at the park, you won't be disappointed. Surrounded by both the Setonaikai (the Seto Inland Sea) and the sakura, you won't know where to look first. There is also a nice little cafe that serves zenzai, tea, coffee, cakes, and sometimes other snacks.

2). Fudonotaki

3.) Kotohiki Koen

Suggested Restaurants and Izakayas

Kanakuma Mochi- Most famous for tasty udon, but also for the year-round availability of Kagawa-style Ozoni (a traditional dish during New Years). It is between Kotohiki Koen and Fudonotaki.

Umajima Udon- another udon favorite among locals

Gigi- A nice izakaya with a hip atmosphere and friendly staff. Just around the corner from the train station

Uzura- Actually in Toyohama, but a nice izakaya right along the sea. Not the cheapest or most convenient place to go, but a worthwhile trip.

Some other places which the names are unknown:

Next to the French Bistro, Mariage, is a delicious place for Ikaku chicken (one the same street as Umajima udon)

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