Kotohira、琴平

Kotahira
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Hongu Shrine.

The home of Shikoku's largest shrine complex, Konpira-san/Kotohira-gu (金毘羅さん、金刀比羅宮), Kotohira is in the Nakatado District (仲多度郡) of Kagawa, in the southwest part of the prefecture. The town is served by both the Kotohira Railway (Kotohira Dentetsu 琴平電鉄, Kotoden 琴電), which is one of the main train lines in Takamatsu and the adjacent areas, and by JR Shikoku.

The shrine's ascent starts a short distance from the train stations. On the way, you can find an udon school, Konpira udon restaurants, craft stores, souvenir shops, candy shops, cafes, and museums. Early autumn and late March/early April are popular times to visit, when the autumn colors (kouyou, 紅葉) and cherry blossoms (sakura, 桜) are out.

Konpira-san, Kotohira-gu

Konpira-san is one of many Konpira shrines around the country, all dedicated to the deity of seafaring. It is formally known as Konpira Daigongen, and is the largest of the Konpira shrine complexes. The shrines are spread along the slope of Mount Zozu. In order to reach the deepest shrine, you must climb over 1,300 steps, starting from the shopping street at the base of the mountain, near the Kotoden Kotohira and JR Kotohira stations.

Though officially declared Shinto during the Meiji period, when the government tried to draw a clear separation between Buddhism and Shinto, Konpira-san has a mix of Buddhist and Shinto architectural elements. The deity is known as O-mono-nushi-no-mikoto (), or Konpira, a seafaring spirit.

The main shrine (hongu, 本宮)is about halfway, 785 steps, and from here you can look out over Kotohira Town. Another 600 or so steps takes you to the inner shrine (okusha, 奥社). It's known as one of the most difficult shrine ascents in the country, but people travel from all over to see the main shrine and inner shrine. At an average pace, it can take half an hour to an hour to reach the main shrine, and the same to get to the inner shrine from there.

You can also take a bus from the train stations to halfway up to the main gate of the main shrine. The fare each way is 500 yen, buses depart each hour, and you must call 0877-73-2221 to make reservations in advance.

Features

  • Kanamaru-za (金丸座), the oldest surviving kabuki playhouse in the country
  • Kotohira Shrine
  • Sake museum
  • Sayahashi Bridge

Sources

Japan Guide, http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5451.html
Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotohira-g%C5%AB
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kagawa/kotohira.html

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