Kotohiki Park in the city of Kanonji is famous for the mysterious Zenigata Sand Coin, a seventeenth-century sand sculpture said to bring long life and luck in money matters to anyone who lays eyes upon it. The sizable sculpture can be viewed from the park’s elevated vista point, which also offers a panorama of the Seto Inland Sea. The sculpture is illuminated at night. Besides the Zenigata Sand Coin, the park is noted for its seaside environment, which is part of Setonaikai National Park, and for its historic sites, including several Buddhist temples and a Shinto shrine.
Seen from the vista point, directly beyond the Zenigata Sand Coin is Ariake Beach, a 2-kilometer strip of white sand. The shallow waters near the shore are a popular wading spot. Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine stands on the summit of the forested Mt. Kotohiki nearby. A 381-step staircase leads up to the shrine from the main torii gate, located near the park entrance. Two Buddhist temples, Jinnein and Kannonji, which are the 68th and 69th temples on the Shikoku 88-Temple Pilgrimage, are located partway up the steps.
Zenigata Sand Coin
The Zenigata Sand Coin in Kotohiki Park is a massive coin-shaped monument molded directly out of the white sand of Ariake Beach. Said to bring long life and luck in money matters to anyone who lays eyes upon it, the sculpture is 345 meters in circumference, up to 122 meters wide, and surrounded by black pine trees. The origins of the artwork are not clearly recorded, but the most commonly cited story is that it was shaped by local residents in a single night in 1633 to welcome Ikoma Takatoshi (1611–1659), the daimyo lord of the Takamatsu domain.
The Zenigata Sand Coin is made entirely of sand, but its size and the pine trees around it make the sculpture relatively resistant to rain and wind. Local residents get together to repair it twice a year, in spring and autumn. This maintenance effort attracts hundreds of participants, many of whom join in for the opportunity to tour the interior of the sculpture, which is usually off limits to the public.
The sheer scale of the artwork becomes clear from the park’s elevated vista point on nearby Mt. Kotohiki. The vista point can be reached by car or a 15-minute walk uphill from the beach. The Zenigata Sand Coin is illuminated at night for additional effect. The lights are usually green, but are temporarily changed to other colors to mark special occasions—including the period of an annual year-end lottery, when the giant sand coin shines in shades of gold.
25-minute walk from JR Kan-onji Station