Kotohiki Park in Kagawa
Sandcastles are cool, but what’s cooler is Kotohiki Park (琴弾公園; Kotohiki Ko-en), which houses a large coin-shaped sand art that’s close to 400 years old. It was created to welcome the then-daimyo (大名; feudal ruler), and citizen volunteers have been taking care of the monument in recent years.
In addition, Kotohiki Park is nationally designated as a “Place of Scenic Beauty” for its vast beach, temples, and greenery. Here, you’ll find more than 200 cherry blossom trees that bloom in late March.
Coin-shaped sand art and its origins
Image credit: @e_e.ikuco
In 1626, the ruling Tokugawa regimen introduced a type of Japanese coin called the Kan’ei Tsūhō (寛永通寳).
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Drawing inspiration from this coin design, the locals created a sand art display to welcome their new daimyo, Takatoshi Ikoma, in 1633. This display is also known as the Zenigata Sunae (銭形砂絵; coin-shaped sand art).
Image credit: @uwauwa1121
The 120m x 90m sand art is about 345m in circumference. Created using the white sand of the Ariakehama Beach, the giant art piece is vulnerable to weather elements.
Image credit: @yosyua915
Nevertheless, the display has survived over the centuries, and it is currently maintained through the help of citizen volunteers who regularly rearrange the sand back to its original position.
Image credit: @yuuji_takahashi_takay_
The best place to see the sand art is on the viewing platform located on the Kotohiki Hill. It is 60m above sea level.
Image credit: @revmakoto
It is said that gazing upon the sand art will bless one with longevity and prosperity. If you happen to visit after sunset, the sand art display will be lit in orange, and occasionally in other hues. The light-up ceases at 10PM.
Other things to see and do at Kotohiki Park
Image credit: @miyoz0u
Kotohiki Park is officially recognised as “A Place of Scenic Beauty”. That’s unsurprising, considering the 50,000 black pine trees and about 200 cherry blossom trees planted in its 38.6 hectares. The cherry blossoms bloom from late March to early April, blanketing the park in soft pink hues.
Image credit: japanese doremi
Image credit: japanese doremi
The park also houses the Kannon-ji Temple and the Jinne-in Temple. The 2 temples are part of the Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, which is over 1200 years old and holds significant religious importance amongst worshippers.
Image credit: @koi_si9
The Kotohiki Beach, with expansive white sands stretching over 2km, also warmly welcomes all beach-goers. You can find a small natural hot spring in the corner too.
Getting to Kotohiki Park
It’s not every day that you can find a sand art display as large and as old as the Zenigata Sunae. This feat is accomplished through the communal efforts of the locals, and the sand art display continues to mark Kotohiki Park as an iconic photo spot for curious tourists.
Getting there: Kotohiki Park is approximately 2km from Kannonji Station, which takes around 30 minutes to reach.
Address: 13 Ariakecho, Kanonji, 768-0062 Kagawa
For more places to visit, check out:
- Tozan Shrine with a porcelain torii gate
- Otaru Canal which inspired Canalave City of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl
- Awashima Shrine houses over 20,000 dolls
- Super Nintendo World guide helps you make the most of your visit
- Suganuma Village has traditional farmhouses preserved