Kotohira is a small town in Kagawa Prefecture. It takes about an hour from the capital city Takamatsu by train. The most famous place in Kotohira is Kompirasan, Shikoku’s most popular shrine. Nearby is the historical Kanamaruza Kabuki theatre. If you want to try the popular Kagawa style udon noodles, how about making them yourself at Nakano Udon School?
Kotohiragu or Kompirasan Shrine
Kotohiragu or Kompirasan is a Shinto shrine dedicated to seafaring and is said to have one of the most difficult shrine approaches in Japan. It is located halfway to the top of 521m-high Mount Zōzu. The shrine stands at the end of a long path, with 785 steps to the main shrine and a total of 1,368 steps to the Okunoin, the innermost sanctuary. Since the 14th-century, pilgrimages to the shrine have been popular and even today there are often hundreds of visitors in a day who climb the steps of Mount Zōzu. On the way to the shrine are a sake museum, stores, and stones with the names of donors carved in Kanji.
Due to the Honji suijaku theory which claimed the local Kami were incarnations of Buddhist gods, the Kotohira Shrine was equally a Buddhist and a Shintoist sanctuary before the two religions became more separated from the late 19th century. There used be palanquins that could take you from the bottom to the main shrine, but unfortunately, they stopped operation in 2019 due to the lack of the young strong workers.
Kanamaruza Kabuki Theater
Once it became a movie theater, but after the decline of the movie industry, it had not been used for a long time. In 1976, they moved the location and restored the building, and started to use it as a Kabuki theater again in 1985. They have performances every spring.
You can visit this old theater from 9:00 to 17:00 every day for a 500 yen entrance fee (300 yen for Junior and Senior high school students, 200 yen for elementary students).
Nakano Udon School
From Takamatsu-Chikko station, take Kotoden Line to Kotoden-Kotohira (1 hour).