Kotohiki Park, which has been designated as one of Japan's national scenic spots, is famous for the Zenigata Sunae (sand art in the shape of a coin) that can be seen from the viewing platform on Kotohiki Hill.
If you start off by walking towards the sea from the toll-free parking area available in the middle of the park, you will reach Ariake-hama Beach. It's a beautiful beach with shallow water over a wide area. At low tide, many people gather to collect shells.
The beach has also been selected as one of Japan's top 100 beaches.
From the shore you can see many islands, such as Ibukijima Island, floating in the sea.
Next, in the background you can find the Kan'onji pine forest, which together with the beach, have been selected as one of Japan's top 100 white sand beaches and green pine groves.
Although there is a designated trail for walking in the woods, walking in the area is not restricted (in general), so you can walk wherever you like among the scent of the pine trees.
However, when walking in the pine forest, suddenly a vast off-limits area of white sand appears in front of your eyes. It looks almost like a maze with trenches dug in the sand.
You wonder who made this and for what!
To solve the mystery, you need to climb to the top of Kohohiki Hill so you can see the background of the sand pit.
Kotohiki Hill is 60 meters high and completely covered in pine forest. When the wind blows in from the sea, they say it sounds like "a hermit playing koto", which is why the area was named Kotohiki ("hiku" = 'play an instrument' in Japanese).
On top of the hill there is a viewing platform. Although the area is accessible by car, it's only about a 15-minute walk from the bottom of the hill, so you can reach the top easily.
Looking down from the viewing platform, the answer to the mysterious sand pit becomes clear! In the middle of the pine forest there is an enormous piece of sand art depicting a Japanese copper coin from the Edo period!
The coin-shaped artwork measures 120 meters from East to West, 90 meters from South to North, and its circumference is 345 meters. It is said that the artwork was completed in one night in 1633 (10th year of Kan'ei era) to welcome Ikoma Takatoshi, the then daimyo of Marugame, Sanuki province.
It is said that if you see this sand sculpture, you will live a long healthy life devoid of money problems. Lately it has also become popular as a ‘power spot’.
The scenery with the sand art becomes especially beautiful in the evening hour.
The combination of the art and the sea colored by the setting sun is quite a sublime view.
Kotohiki Park has also been selected among Japan's top 100 places to see the sunset, and on the viewing platform you can find a timetable that displays the seasonal sunset times. During winter, the sun sets on the left side of the sand sculpture, while during summer, it sets on the right side. The photograph below was taken in summer.
This is the scene around midday. According to locals who visit the viewing platform daily, on days when the air is clear you can see all the way to the Shimanami Kaido Bridge.
Zenigata Sunae was created in the Edo period…
Currently, the city residents attend to the sculpture, and every spring and autumn it is restored to maintain this sight.
If you take a look at Zenigata Sunae from the viewing platform, maybe you will also live a long prosperous life!
Location: Ariakecho, Kan'onji city, Kagawa Prefecture
Guide Homepage: http://www.city.kanonji.kagawa.jp/sight/zenigata.html (Japanese, but auto-translated English pages available)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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