A sunny autumn day in Kotohira
Kotohira (琴平町, Kotohira-chō) is a small town located in Nakatado District, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. Thanks to its largest shrine complex on the island of Shikoku - Kotohira Shrine (commonly known as Konpira-san), this town attracts many tourists coming here to visit. Join me on a journey to explore this unique and sacred shrine complex!
I had the opportunity to visit Kotohira Shrine on a beautiful sunny autumn day when the sky was clear, and the autumn wind was gently caressed the trees along the road. It was pretty much a coincidence since I went there to visit an old friend of mine, and she took me to visit Kotohiragu Shrine during my stay there.
Kotohira Shrine is the head shrine of all "Kotohira" shrines across Japan that worship Omononushi, the Shinto God of the Sea, also known with the beloved name of "Konpira-san of Sanuki".
How to get to Kotohira-gu Shrine?
You can go to Kotohira from Takamatsu Airport in Shikoku or Okayama Station by the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train. From Takamatsu, take the train to Kotohira Station or Kotoden Kotohira that passes Takamatsu-Chikko Station, which is next to Takamatsu Castle. Either way, it will take you about an hour to arrive. From Okayama, take the JR Seto-Ohashi line to Kotohira.
If you want to visit Kotohira Shrine, you must pass this challenge first!!
Getting to the main shrine - Kotohira shrine is quite a "serious" challenge for visitors. To reach this sacred shrine which is located halfway up the 521-meter high Zouzu mountain, you have to climb about 758 stone steps. Still, it is not the worst. If you want to go to the Izutama Shrine located at the top of the mountain, you must climb another 1,368 stone steps.
That is why this is one of the most challenging paths to shrines in Japan. Still, there is another option for those who don't want to climb that many stairs, you can rent a palanquin to go up ^^
Visiting the main Shrine - Kompirasan
Daimon - the entrance to the main shrine
After climbing continuously for about 45 minutes (about 365 steps), I finally reached the Daimon gate - the gate to the shrine's main hall. The clear blue sky without a single cloud and the cool autumn breeze triggered me to climb to the shrine as quickly as possible.
Next, I had to climb about 400 steps more to reach the main shrine.
The maidenhair trees on the side of the road were like lovely, red-haired girls wearing bright yellow outfits that lit up a corner of the sky. They contributed significantly to the poetic and peaceful beauty of the shrine.
Kotohiragu Shrine - where sailors come to pray
Kotohiragu Shrine, often known as Kompirasan, is Shikoku's most famous shrine for sailors and seafarers.
This shrine has an ancient architecture with its sophistication and uniqueness. As far as I know, this shrine is a combination of Shinto and Buddhist shrines, which has given shrines the current unique architecture.
Next to the main shrine is the Ema Hall - where many photos of maritime ships are displayed, all of which are brought here by sailors with the hope of a smooth sailing year and good luck before every vital trip.
Going further up, I also saw many other sub-shrines, no wonder this is called the largest shrine complex on Shikoku island!
There are many souvenir shops, cafes, tea houses, and udon noodle restaurants around the shrine. Popular souvenirs here are yellow amulets for happiness and konpira dog figurines.
Take a tour around the town of Kotohira
After visiting the shrine complex and going down, I took a tour around Kotohira town since there was still time. The town of Kotohira is home to several restaurants of Sanuki udon noodles, a signature dish of Kagawa. If you come here, you must try this noodle dish. It will not let you down.
Besides, there are also many shops huddling together that sell many local specialties and lovely souvenirs. I bought 2 bottles of sake and some Honetsukidori specialties - a famous deep-fried chicken thigh dish in Kagawa Prefecture to "nibble" with my friends.
After a long journey of climbing up Kotohiragu Shrine, although I was tired, I felt very happy and proud since I tried and climbed all the last steps ^^
What about you? Why not come to visit this challenging but also fascinating shrine right away?
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