Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 1 –
First of all, Kagawa is a name of a prefecture in Japan and has nothing to do with a Japanese footballer Kagawa.
Konpira in Kagawa
Konpira-guu or Kotohira-guu is one of the well-known shrines in Japan.
Often people affectionately call it as “Konpira-san”.
The word “Konpira” came from the Sanskrit, “Kumbhira”.
I couldn’t find any information when it was built.
In some books (one of them is “Tamamo-shuu” written in 1677), it is stated that the God had been there for almost 3000 years.
Probably, it was just a sacred place where the God was believed to have stayed and not a proper building at first.
How to get there
From the Okayama station, take a train to the Kotohira station.
If you take a limited express train (need extra fee for the express ticket), it goes direct and takes about an hour.
If you take an ordinary train (no extra fee unless you want to have a reserved seat), you may have to transfer at least once and takes about an hour and half.
Every train from Okayama to Kotohira crosses the Seto Oohashi (the bridge across the Seto Inland Sea), so when it’s windy, it often gets delayed or stops.
20-minute-walk from the Kotohira station.
The Konpira shrine
[Dai-mon / Oo-mon (the main gate)]
You’ve got to walk up 365 steps to reach here.
This is the main gate of the shrine.
It was 29th of December and the shrine had prepared for new year.
Can you see the tiger image on the left in the photo?
It was the animal of the new year from Jyuuni-shi.
– Gonin-byakushou and Bekkou-ame –
When you go through the gate, you’ll see small shops selling “Bekkou-ame”.
These shops are called as “Gonin-byakushou” (five farmers).
No business is allowed in a sacred area, but these five merchant families have the special permission as the rewards of their long time services for the shrine rituals.
So, there shouldn’t be more than five shops here.
“Bekkou-ame” is a candy made from sugar and “mizu-ame” (liquid sweetener like corn syrup).
It’s a thin, half transparent and tint brown with faint “yuzu” (a citrus fruit) flavour.
Break it with a tiny hammer attached to the product before you eat.
I bought one, but I didn’t take any photos.
First torii you see after the main gate.
There’s a banner across the torii saying “Kinga-shinnen”, which means “a happy new year”.
It still is a long way to go.
Note: “Kinga-shinnen” is only used in writing.
If you say this to somebody, it is rather odd.
We say “Akemashite omedetou (gozaimasu)” instead. (It’s more polite with “gozaimasu”)
You can use this phrase in writing too.
[Shinme (a.k.a Shinba or Jinme) (Horses for God(s))]
Walking up about 100 steps, then you’ll get to the open space.
There is a “mimaya”, a respectful word for “umaya” (stable).
Horses here are considered only for God(s) to ride on, and there were two.
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