Kotohira is located in the inland area of Kagawa Prefecture and is a tourist area with many historical buildings, such as the Kotohira-gu Shrine. In town, various religious and other events are held in each season, and many traditional festivals have been held since ancient times at Kotohira-gu Shrine.
Kotohira is a small town that extends from north to south. In the south, the city spreads from the side of Mt. Zozu to around the foot of the mountain. It is also a central area for sightseeing, with various tourist attractions and the "Konpira Onsen-kyo" area, which has many hot spring hotels. In the north, on the other hand, there are idyllic countryside landscapes.
Kotohira's Climate and Tourist Season
Kotohira's climate is mild, with little rain throughout the year. For this reason, it is easy to go sightseeing all year round, but spring and fall are recommended if you want to visit Kotohira-gu Shrine, located on the side of Mt. Zozu. In the spring, the cherry blossoms and azaleas are blooming, and in the fall, the changing leaves are at their peak, so you can see the beautifully colored scenery in these seasons.
Things to Do in Kotohira
Kotohira's main tourist attractions are located in the south, and there are various famous places. Here are some recommended spots.
Kotohira-gu Shrine and Other Historic Shrines and Temples
There are many temples and shrines in Kotohira, such as Kotohira-gu Shrine and Matsuo-ji Temple. Among them, Kotohira-gu Shrine is a key tourist attraction for Kotohira City. There are various things to see in the spacious grounds. For example, there are a number of shrines that feature majestic traditional architectural styles, such as the Asahi-sha Shrine, Gohon-gu Shrine, and Izutama Shrine. There are also various Buddhist sites in the shrine grounds, such as the treasure hall, which contains the buddha statue and other treasures, and the reception room, which has traditionally painted sliding fusuma doors on display.
A Townscape with Historic Sites, Old Roads, and Traditional Buildings
Many historical sites and traditional buildings remain in Kotohira. For example, in Kotohira, there are five old highways that worshipers at Kotohira-gu Shrine used, and historical sites such as torii gates, lanterns, and signposts are located throughout the town.
There are also many traditional buildings such as the Kotohira-cho Public Hall. One of the must-sees is the “Old Konpira Grand Theater Kanamaru-za”. It is Japan's oldest playhouse, and you can go inside to see the interior of the traditional building. By the way, every year in April, there is a Kabuki performance, a Japanese traditional theater style, held in this theater.
Places to Learn About Kotohira's History, Such as the Kotohira Folk History Museum
Kotohira has several tourist facilities where you can experience the history and culture of Kotohira. For example, at the Kotohira Folk History Museum, you can see various materials related to the history, culture, and folklore of the town.
In addition, the “Science Museum of the Sea (Kotohira Maritime Museum)” displays materials and tools related to the sea and ships, as well as the ship called the “Kopira-maru”, that carried visitors to Kotohira-gu Shrine. You can see many models of traditional large ships there as well.
Kotohira Food and Restaurants
There are many restaurants in Kotohira where you can eat the Kagawa specialty "Sanuki Udon". In addition, there are many teahouses and Japanese confectionery shops on the approach to Kotohira-gu Shrine where you can eat famous Japanese sweets such as “Kyuman” steamed buns and Funefune Senbei rice crackers. Most of the restaurants are centered in the city center around JR Kotohira Station in the south.
Kotohira Hotels and Ryokan Inns
Most of the accommodations are around JR Kotohira Station, in an area called the "Konpira Onsen-kyo" hot spring town. There are a variety of hotel styles, from economy hotels to ryokan inns that offer access to hot springs. The economy hotels are about 5,000 yen per night, but the ryokan inns run from about 10,000 yen.
Access to Kotohira
If you want to visit Kotohira, aim for the main station, JR Kotohira Station in the south. From JR Okayama Station, where the Shinkansen from both directions can take you, it takes about 50 minutes by limited express train.
From Kotohira Station, you can use the “Kompira Visitors Mountain Shuttle” that goes directly to Kotohira-gu Shrine. You can make a reservation in advance for a shuttle bus that goes to the Omon Gate, which is the entrance to the precincts of Kotohira-gu Shrine. If you want to use it, use the reservation page on the official English website.
- Spot name： Kotohira (JR Kotohira Station)
- Street address：864 864 Enai, Kotohira-cho, Nakatado District, Kotohira Prefecture (zipcode 766-0004)
- Access：Okayama Station → [JR Limited Express] About 1 hour → Kotohira Station
- Wi-Fi：Available（KAGAWA Wi-Fi）
- Language：English, Chinese, Korean
- Credit cards：VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, Diners Club International