• Culture
  • Kagawa

Kotohira-gu Shrine

Kotohira Shrine is the head shrine of “Kotohira” shrines around Japan that worship Omononushi, the Shinto’s God of the sea long beloved by the name Konpira-san of Sanuki. Its grounds are rich in cultural and historical must-see spots such as the shrine itself, other buildings, and works of art.

Konpira-san, Guardian Deity of the Sea

The shrine is famous for its long stone-step path, with 785 steps to the main shrine and 1,368 to the inner shrine. Its grounds are rich in cultural and historical must-see spots such as the shrine itself, other buildings, and works of art. The entire town in the vicinity also has a magical atmosphere, with various Cultural Properties such as the Konpira Grand Theater (Kanamaru-za), and a retro townscape that takes you back to the Showa period.

Goldmine of Art

The Shoin (drawing room) is one of the leading spots of the culture zone of Kotohira-gu Shrine, and used to be a parlor. The Omote-shoin (Important Cultural Property) has a gabled, thatched cypress bark roof and is said to have been built around 1658–1660. There is also the Oku-shoin (Important Cultural Property), said to have been built in the same year. The Omote-shoin is known for the paintings on its sliding partitions (an Important Cultural Property) by famous Edo period painter Maruyama Okyo. The Oku-shoin features Ito Jakuchu’s painting “Hyakka-zu,” which has been gaining praise in recent years, and painted partitions from the painter Gantai (only the Omote-shoin is open to the general public).

In addition, Kotohira-gu Shrine has 27 oil paintings from Takahashi Yuichi, pioneer of contemporary Japanese western art, which are on permanent display at the Museum of Takahashi Yuichi.

Homotsu-kan, Hall of Precious Treasures

The first museum of Kotohira-gu Shrine, the Homotsu-kan, was built in 1905, making it the first museum in Japan. It was designed by Kuru Masamichi, the architect who designed Japan’s pavilion at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The Homotsu-kan houses precious treasures from Kotohira-gu Shrine, such as Juichimen-Kannon, a Buddha statue from the Heian period and an Important Cultural Property (Right Picture), and the Sanju-roku Kasen Gaku, a painting depicting famous Japanese poets.

The Oldest Existing Theater

The town of Kotohira has long flourished with visitors to Konpira and is also home to the Konpira Grand Theater (Kanamaru-za), Japan’s oldest theater, built in 1835. This theater is a designated Important Cultural Property, and brings the atmosphere of the Edo period to the present day. Popular kabuki actors gather here every spring for the Shikoku Konpira Kabuki Festival. Even outside of performance times, you can look around the guest seats and behind the stage.


Name Kotohira-gu Shrine
Website https://www.my-kagawa.jp/en/see-and-do/10078
Address 892-1 Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa
Opening Hours 6:00 to 18:00
Opening/closing of the gates of the main shrine: 7:00 to 17:00
Inquiries TEL: 0877-75-2121 (Kotohira-gu Shrine Office)

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