Pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine in Kagawa became popular during Edo Era in 18th and 19th Century. Pilgrimage in Japan is the origin of tourism in Japan. Other famous and historic pilgrimages include Mt. Fuji, Ise Jingu Shrine and Kumano Kodo. It was a dream of Japanese people to visit those sacred places once in a life time. Therefore, for those who travel along the pilgrimage routes, roads were built, developed and maintained. Moreover, travel agencies were born in Japan in order to arrange the pilgrimage travels. Visiting Kotohira-gu Shrine was one of those famous pilgrimages and it is still one of the most attractive destinations in Kagawa Prefecture.
Train to Kotohira-gu Shrine
Long time ago, the pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine was on foot. Today, if you come to Takamatsu City, you can easily go to Kotohira-gu Shrine by Kotoden Train. There are trains leaving Takamatsu Chikko Station almost every 20 minutes. And it will take you to the cute castle-like Kotohira Station in an hour.
If you walk a few minutes from the station, you will arrive at the entrance of the road towards Kotohira-gu Shrine. There, many old shops with traditional facade stood along the street so it was quite fascinating to walk, seeing the landscape. But you have to note that there are so many stone steps you have to climb until you reach to the shrine.
Steps of the Pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine
A few-minute walk along the street will take you to the foot of the long steps towards Kotohira-gu Shrine.
There are 785 steps to the main hall of the shrine and 1,368 in total to the top shrine. Along the steps, you will see various kinds of souvenir shops. These ever-lasting steps are the highlights of the pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine. The steps are not so steep but they are really long. So some of the souvenir shops offer walking canes. From the hill where the Main Hall stands, you can see the vast field of Sanuki with a mountain called “Sanuki Fuji”. The name of the mountain comes from Mt. Fuji because of its beautiful shape.
Additional Steps towards Inner Sanctuary
583 more steps will take you to the final destination of this pilgrimage to Kotohiragu Shrine, Inner Sanctuary.
Guardian Angel of Maritime Transport
Kotohira-gu Shrine enshrines Konpira Daigongen. This god is known as a guardian angel of maritime transport. Therefore, those who related to maritime transport including shipping companies, ship builders, Coast Guards visit Kotohira-gu Shrine. They often present wooden plaques to pray for the safety of maritime transport.
For More Information on Pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine
Take Kotoden (Takamatsu Kotohira Dentetsu) Train from Takamatsu Chikko Station (near from JR Takamatsu Station) to Kotohira Station. It is about one-hour train ride and from there walk 15 minutes to the entrance of the shrine. From there, you are going to climb stone steps.
From JR Okayama Station, take Dosan Honsen Train and cross Setouchi Inland Sea to Kotohira Station. It is about one-hour train ride. From Kotohira Station, walk 20 minutes to the entrance of the shrine.
Main Hall opens at 6 am and closes at 5 pm (6 pm from April to September).
Inner Sanctuary opens at 8 am and closes at 5 pm.
They open until late at the beginning of the New Year.