Japan (October 2018): Kotohira and Zentsu-ji

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Kotohira and Zentsu-ji are two small towns located in the Kagawa prefecture southwest of Takamatsu. Kotohira features a number of important Shinto shrines, including Kompira-san (more formally named Kotohira-gu), located in a beautiful surrounding on the eastern slope of Zozu-san (Mount Elephant, 538m). Zentsu-ji is the birthplace of Kobo Daishi and also the location and name of Henro Temple #75.

 

Kotohira:

 

Takadoro, a 26m-high house lantern built in 1865. Its purpose is unclear. It has been suggested that it was built to guide boats in the Inland Sea. But the sea is more than 10km away with a few small hills in between, so that the lantern could not have been seen from the sea. Another suggestion is that it was intended to be a warning beacon to alert people in case of danger. Perhaps the most believable suggestion is that it was intended to guide pilgrims approaching Kompira-san at night. In any case, the lantern, which is made of wood and stone, is beautiful; its shape is remarkably elegant.

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Sayabashi bridge, a wooden covered bridge over the Kanakura-gawa. Initially built in the 17th century at another location, this bridge was moved to its present location in 1905. In Japanese, ″saya″ is the word for the sheath of a sword and ″bashi″ means bridge.

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Other bridges over the Kanakura-gawa downstream from the Sayabashi bridge, more colorful but not as elegant.

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The Kinryo sake museum, formerly a brewery from the Edo period, located in the street leading to the stairs climbing to Kompira-san. Left: Sugi-dama at the entrance of the museum. Right: Photo of the brewery in the early 20th century posted in the museum. [A sugi-dama (杉玉) is a ball made from cedar leaves hanged at the entrance of a sake brewery or pub. Originally, the color of the ball reflected the maturity of the sake: when the sake was freshly stored in barrels in winter, the ball was still green; as sake got mature, the leaves turned to brown. Today the (always brown) ball is mainly an ornament.]

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Inside the museum:

- Picture illustrating several aspects of sake production.

 

- Tub and barrel used for stirring, fermentation, and storage.

 

- Sake cups and bottles.

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Two other old shops in the same street.

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Kanamaru-za, Japan′s oldest Kabuki theater constructed in 1835.

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The following pictures are sorted in ascending order toward the Okusha shrine, the highest shrine located near the top of Zozu-san. Kompira-san shrine is some 785 stone steps up from the beginning of the ascent and Okusha shrine requires to climb 583 more steps.

 

Statue, lantern, and tori gate located at (or near) the beginning of the ascent.

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Omon gate.

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Stone gateway behind Omon gate.

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Asahi shrine, which is perhaps the most beautiful shrine in Kotohira. Note the gorgeous woodwork both around the building and under the roofs.

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Chozura (basin used by visitors to purify themselves) near Asahi shrine.

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Kompira-san (aka Kompira-gu), the main shrine in religious importance. Originally a Buddhist and Shinto shrine dedicated to the guardian of seafarers, it became exclusively Shinto after te Meiji restoration.

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[Tsuri-daiko (large hanging drum played with two mallets).]

 

 

Views over the plain toward the northeast from the terrace next to Kompira-san.

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Okusha shrine, the highest shrine in the Kompira complex, just a few meters below Zozu-san.

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Zentsu-ji (Henro Temple #75):

 

The Daishi-do dedicated to Kobo Daishi.

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The perfectly shaped, five-story pagoda near the Daidhi-do.

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Large camphor trees in the temple precinct.

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Various statues around the temple.

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