While traveling in the Kagawa (香川) Prefecture, do you know that there is a place that you must visit if you want to improve your luck in money? Or, do you want to embark on a learning journey about coins from Japan and the world? If so, Kanonji (観音寺) City is the place to visit as it offers two places which satisfy these needs at one go!
Kanonji City is located in the southwestern part of Kagawa Prefecture which also includes an outlying island named Ibukijima (伊吹島). Blessed with a warm southern climate and protected by the Sanuki (讃岐) mountain range and the Shikoku (四国) and Chugoku (中国) mountains, the city is comparatively less affected by natural disasters such as typhoons. Kanonji last went through a merger with neighboring Onohara-cho (大野原町) and Toyohama-cho (豊浜町) in October 2005 to become what it is today. Besides its natural sights and tourist hot spots such as its museums, historical buildings, temples, and shrines, the city is also known for its signature festival i.e. the Toyohama Chousa Matsuri (豊浜ちょうさ祭).
Let’s head to the Zenigata Sunae (銭形砂絵) first for a breathtaking view of this giant sand painting and get some money luck at the same time!
The Zenigata Sunae, which literally means “coin-shaped sand drawing,” is located on the 2 km-long Ariake Beach and measures 122 meters from east to west and 90 meters from north to south with a circumference of 345 meters. The drawing is based on the Kanei Tsuuhou (寛永通宝) which was a coin used during the Edo era.
In order to see the coin in its entirety from a height, there is an observatory at the top of the mountain where Kotohiki Park (琴弾公園) is located. Besides being renowned as a good place to see a beautiful sunset, you should also visit the observatory at night if you are in the area during the year-end and New Year periods because this is when the Zenigata Sunae will be lighted up. As such, the sand drawing will look very different with a mystical feel as compared to how it appears in the day.
As to how the Zenigata Sunae came about, it was said that Ikoma Takatoshi (生駒高俊), the 4th feudal lord of the Marugame Domain was about to visit the area for an inspection in the 10th year of the Kanei (1633). To express their feelings of welcoming him, the locals got together and used their hoes to create the Zenigata Sunae overnight on the white sandy beach. However, the legend is somewhat contradictory to facts as the Kanei Tsuuhou was only circulated for use from the 13th year of the Kanei (1636) and there were no historical records indicating that Ikoma had indeed visited the area.
Subsequently, there were also other theories which supposedly explained how the Zenigata Sunae was made. For example, it was said that the sand drawing was made to be presented to Kyougoku Akiyuki (京極朗徹), the 7th feudal lord of the Marugame Domain in 1855. Another theory has it that the sand drawing was initially the gourd logo of the Toyotomi clan which was “modified” suddenly in the 10th year of the Kanei to become the current coin design as the locals got wind that inspector guards were coming from the Bakufu government. Despite the controversy, it is generally accepted that the story of Ikoma’s visit is the standard explanation for the origin of the Zenigata Sunae.
It is believed that if you can see the Zenigata Sunae in person, not only will you be able to live healthily and have a long life, but you will also be free of money troubles and have a bountiful fortune. In recent years, there have been reports of people striking the lottery after their visits, thus raising the popularity and awareness of this tourist hot spot.
In case you are wondering why and how the sand drawing retains its form despite being exposed to various elements over such a long time, you will be surprised to know that the current Zenigata Sunae is actually not the original version. Despite the erosion effects brought about by rain and the wind, the sand drawing is able to keep its shape thanks to the efforts of the local residents. In April and October every year i.e. spring and autumn, there is an event called Zenigata Keshounaoshi (銭形化粧直し) which literally means adjusting the makeup for the Zenigata. Local volunteers are called in to participate in refurbishing works for the Zenigata so that it retains its form as always.
Other than boosting your money fortune at the Zenigata Sunae, don’t forget to swing by the Sekai no Coin Kan (世界のコイン館) i.e. World Coin Museum which is just next to Kotohiki Park.
In this museum, you can see about 2,000 exhibits of coins from Japan and the world and know the history and stories surrounding them. For example, there is a coin shaped like a doughnut from Yap Island which measures 40 cm in diameter that is said to be the largest coin in the world. The oldest Japanese currency i.e. the Wadou Kaichin (和同開珎) and commemorative coins such as those issued during the Olympics and World Expos can also be seen here.
Besides boosting your knowledge about coins, you can also have some fun by playing games and buying coin-related merchandise from the museum shop. Last but not least, do visit the roadside station shop on the first floor which sells signature local produce and souvenirs from Kanonji!
The museum is open every day except on Mondays and between 29 December and 1 January. If the Monday happens to be a public holiday, the off day will be on the following day. Opening hours are from 9 am to 5 pm. For a small price of 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children up to junior high, you can experience everything that the World Coin Museum has to offer.
There are a number of ways to get to this museum and the observatory to see the Zenigata Sunae:
- Take a bus from the JR Kanonji Station for 10 minutes.
- Take a taxi from the JR Kanonji Station for 3 minutes (about 2 km away).
- Take the Noriai Bus Gogo-takamuro Route (のりあいバス五郷高室線) from the JR Kanonji Station and tell the driver that you wish to get off at the entrance of Kotohiki Park (琴弾公園入り口). This community bus service allows you to get off at most locations along the route even if there is no bus stop.
- Take the Takamatsu Expressway and take an exit at the Oonohara Interchange (drive for another 6 km – about 12 minutes) or at the Sanuki Toyonaka Interchange (drive for another 8 km – about 15 minutes)
After reading about these two attractions, are you ready to know about your money and get more of it? Good luck and have fun there!