The Kotohira-gu shrine has been worshiped since ancient times and is often affectionately referred to as “Konpira-san” by local people. It is a Japanese custom for people to visit shrines, where they pray during specific milestones they have achieved in their lives; this includes the start of a new year (Hatsumoude), when people visit shrines to pray for safety and happiness.
1. SNEAKERS ARE RECOMMENDED
Konpirasan is renowned for the long flight of stone steps – 765 in all – that lead up to the main shrine (Hongu), and encompassing in all 1368 steps one chooses to also visit the shrine situated further away, at the rear (Okusha). It is highly recommended that you wear sneakers and carry a backpack with anything you may need when visiting the shrines.
2. BORROW WALKING STICKS AT STREET STALLS AT THE APPROACH
There are a variety of shops and eating places lined on the both sides of the road approaching the shrine. Many of them will lend you a walking stick free of charge, so pick one up as you pass. It will be of a great help when climbing up the many stone steps.
3. LOOK FOR JAPAN’S ONLY CLIMBING PALANQUIN (TOZAN KAGO)
You can hire a palanquin for the 365-step journey to the shrine's gate. This type of palanquin is only found at Konpirasan in Japan. The weight limit is 100 kg and up to two children can ride the palanquin at the same time. (The return fare is 6,800 yen *fares are subject to change).
4. Meet the god's horse (Shin-me)
At the open space following the copper Torii gate at the 429th step, you will see the sacred white horse that has been dedicated to the shrine for the god to ride.
5. LEARN BASIC ETIQUETTE FOR WORSHIPPING
Go through the first, second and third Torii gates in order to reach the main shrine. Bow lightly as you go through each gate
Cleanse yourself at the chouzusha before you reach the main shrine.
1. Take a ladle with your right hand and pour water over your left hand.
2. Switch the ladle to your left hand and pour water over your right hand.
3. Switch the ladle again to your right hand, pour water on your left palm (try cupping your left hand) and put the water in your mouth to lightly wash in the inside of your mouth. Discard the water in the drain.
4. Pour water over your left hand to cleanse it.
5. Hold the ladle upright, then put it back to where it was before.
Arriving at the front of the worshipping place, lightly bow once.
If there is a bell, ring it strongly by pulling the rope, so that the god will know that you are there.
Make a donation in the offertory box, or saisenbako. Avoid throwing the money in the box; go closer and put the offering in the box as quietly as possible.
Now it is time for two bows, two hand claps and one bow.
“Two bows”: bow deeply to the shrine twice.
“Two claps”: clap your hands twice, then put your hands together in front of your chest, make your wishes, then put your hands down.
“One bow”: bow again deeply once.
6. ENJOY THE APPROACHING ROAD
There are a variety of shops on both sides of the road approaching the shrine. There are many eating places including a restaurant run by the local sake brewery, “Kinryo”, udon noodle restaurants and Japanese sweet shops, as well as many gift shops that sell traditional crafts including Japanese swords, Daruma dolls (Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma) and souvenirs and gifts. It is the ideal place for binge eating the famous food of Konpirasan, or for buying Japanese souvenirs.
7. FIND THE FAMOUS YELLOW CHARMS OF KONPIRASAN
“Mamori” means “to protect” and Omamori are portable personal protection amulets or charms. The Konpirasan’s “Shiawase no Kiiroi Omamori" (literally means "yellow charm of happiness") is made of woven turmeric-dyed silk, and resembles a golden color. It is said to offer protection from illness and disaster.
[Address] 892-1 Kotohira-cho Nakatadogun, Kagawa
By train: 30 minute walk from JR Kotohira Station and Kotoden Kotohira Station
By car: 15 minute drive from Takamatsu Expressway, Zentsuji Interchange
[Closed] Open 365 days a year