Shikoku's most famous shrine
Kotohiragu Shrine, affectionately called Konpira-san, has long been revered in Japan. Of the numerous Kotohira and Konpira shrines that dot the nation, this one is the head of them all. Pilgrims climb 785 stone steps to reach the shrine’s main hall, or 1,368 to pray at the inner shrine.
The shrine itself is famously worshiped as the God of the Sea. The main deity, Omononushinokami, is worshiped for his powers in agriculture, fishing, medicine, and the arts. During the Edo period (1603-1867), when commoners were forbidden to travel freely, a pilgrimage to Kotohiragu Shrine was permitted. Naturally, a trip there was considered a seminal event. People who could not make the journey used dogs, called konpira-inu, to take their prayers to the main hall, or put out to sea barrels of sake, called nagashi-daru, to be picked up and taken to the shrine by fishermen.
For art lovers, the Omoteshoin Drawing Room halfway up the stairs is worth a visit. Visitors to this 1660 edifice, roofed in cypress shingles and designated an Important Cultural Property, can encounter paintings by the artist Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795) on the sliding paper doors. In addition, the Takahashi Yuichi Hall displays works by pioneers of modern Japanese Western-style painting.
The approach to the shrine bustles with numerous cafes, souvenir shops, udon noodle restaurants, and more. Walking sticks are available to borrow for the long climb up.
|Open||Shrine grounds: open all hours
Omoteshoin, Treasure Hall, Art Museum: 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (last entry 4:30 p.m.)
|Closed||Open all year round|
Omoteshoin, Treasure Hall, Art Museum (permanent exhibitions):
¥800 (other exhibitions may vary)
|Parking||Paid public parking available near base of shrine
(accommodates large buses)