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Kotohira-gu Shrine金刀比羅宮

An inner shrine accessible via 1,368 stone steps. The protector god of sailors is here, Konpira-san.

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An inner shrine accessible via 1,368 stone steps. The protector god of sailors is here, Konpira-san.

Kotohira-gu Shrine, familiarly called Konpira-san, is located in western Kagawa, halfway up Mt. Zozu-san at an altitude of 521 meters. The protector deity for seafarers is enshrined there. Konpira is also said to protect people's health and guard against evil, and it has been a site of worship since olden times. During the Edo Period, in the 18th century, making a pilgrimage to Konpira became quite a fad. Even today, a steady flow of worshipers coming from all over Japan continues.
The approach to the Main Sanctuary halfway up Mt. Zozu-san has some 785 stone steps, and another 1,368 stone steps climb up to the Inner Shrine. When you stand in front of the Main Sanctuary, you receive a bird's eye view of the Sanuki Plain. You can even hire a palanquin bearer to carry you up the steps to the Dai-mon Gate, halfway up the approach way.

Located in the nearby precincts are such historical sites as the Main Sanctuary, Asahi-no-yashiro Shrine, Omote-shoin (formal drawing room), and Oku-shoin (inner drawing room). You can also visit Houmotsu-kan (treasure house) that houses an 11-faced image of the Goddess of Kannon and other treasures, an academic reference library that displays numerous donated arts and crafts, a museum that exhibits an excellent collection of works by Yuichi Takahashi, a pioneer of Japanese oil painting, Shiro-shoin, known for its 'fusuma' (sliding doors) painting by Kyoji Takubo with a motif of camellias planted in Kotohira-gu Shrine, and Kamitsubaki, a cafe restaurant that relieves the fatigue of worshippers. During the festival celebrated in fall, a 'mikoshi' (portable shrine) weighing more than one ton is carried up the stone steps during the night, and after worship is returned to the shrine during the night of the following day.

In the areas surrounding the approach way, there remain many historic sites, such as the tall lantern that used to be the landmark of Konpira pilgrimages and Saya-hashi Bridge. The town of Kitohira also welcomes a number of visitors to its Konpira-onsen Hot Spring Village.

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From Tokyo:
[Air] 1h 20 min from Haneda to Takamatsu Airport, and 45 min by bus from the airport to Kotohira.
[Rail] 3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 1h from Okayama to Kotohira Station by JR Seto-ohashi Line (limited express).


From Osaka:
[Rail] 40 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station by Shinkansen.


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Kagawa 香川県

Kotohira-gu Shrine 金刀比羅宮