In Japanese, “san” added to the end of an individual’s name is an honorific intended to show respect. Here in Kotohira, Kotohiragu Shrine is called by the nickname “Konpira-san” to show the love and respect the locals have for the shrine said to be more than 1,000-years-old and home to an enshrined emperor of centuries past as well as Omononushi-no Kami – a god of agriculture, fisheries, industry and medication.
The access route to the shrine totals 1,368 steps and is quite a hard climb although it can be broken up with visits to the refreshment stalls along the way. For the lethargic, palanquin bearers can even make the journey on your behalf as you sit back and watch the world glide by. The view back over the town from the main Hongu shrine at the point of the 785th step is especially impressive after the climb.
Konpira Oshibai, a local kabuki performance reappeared 23-years-ago after a long hiatus and now, held annually and known as Shikoku Konpira Kabuki Oshibai, attracts large audiences to the area.
Zentsu-ji Temple is another historical spot just a 5-minute ride from Kotohira Station on the JR Dosan Line. As the birthplace of Kukai (Kobo Daishi) the city of Zentsuji and the father of Kukai are said to have donated this ground to aid in the establishment of the temple.
During your visit, if lucky enough, you may come across people clad entirely in white and donning a straw hat while carrying a stick. If so, you are looking at pilgrims on their way around the “”Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage,”” – following in the long cold footsteps of Kukai. Zentsu-ji is the 75th fudasho (visiting place) of the 88 on the route and has long been visited by these men and women labeled “”Ohenro-san.””
Kan-on-ji Temple is another fudasho (the 69th) and is not far from Kotohiki Park – famous for Zenigata Sunae (sand paintings of early Japanese coins) said to bring financial benefits to those visiting the site in a scene which creates an interesting combination of coin art and sea. The Sekai-no-Coin Kan is another facility located in Kotohiki Park and serves to explain the history of global coinage.
Kagawa Prefecture was, in days of old, named Sanuki – a name that today reminds Japanese people of a certain traditional food – udon noodles. The thick, white noodle made of wheat flour, with its soft but relatively al dente feel is famous throughout Japan today but the passion for this noodle shown by the residents of Kagawa is second to none. When parties or wedding ceremonies are held in Kagawa, the noodle is an ever present food.
In recent years, however, it is another local dish that has been attracting the attention of both locals and visitors alike – Honetsuki-niku (chicken with bones) – a dish that permits those tasting it to compare the different flavor of different types of chicken found in the various Honetsuki-niku restaurants – locally.