a neolithic spiritual formation

Kasaneiwa (Piled Rocks)

Photographer | Takuma Kimura


Kasaneiwa is a collection of large rocks and boulders that are stacked on top of one another in what appears to be a neolithic spiritual formation. Apparently, even the local residents are unsure of the exact story behind them. What is known, however, is that they are located in an area of the island where stones originally meant for Osaka Castle were left behind.

Today, the site is also a Shinto shrine marked by the small gate or torii that is placed between the huge stones. No matter how you choose to interpret the history of Kasaneiwa, it is clear that it has earned its reputation as one of Shodoshima’s power spots.

There are marked trails around the grounds of the shrine which are roped off to provide a measure of safety. There is even a concrete block barrier at certain sections as there is a sheer drop in some places.

As you approach the entrance, there is a small conventional altar where you can offer prayers. Then, you can move on to the centerpiece. As you get closer it becomes apparent that the massive rock is the object of reverence. It is naturally exulted as it has somehow been brought to rest upon smaller pedestal-like rocks.

As you walk by, have a look down onto the coast for a stunning view of the village below as well as the islands of the Seto Sea. If you can time your visit for the late afternoon or early evening, you will have the chance to witness one of Shodoshima’s most unique sunsets.

Already regarded as an island of marvelous sunsets, Kananeiwa stands above the rest because the rays of sun dance upon both the water and the land, brushing the rocks with strokes of amber and splashes of red and orange.

Access: About 30 minutes by bus from Tonosho Port



The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima belongs to Kagawa Prefecture, but is easily accessible from ferries running from Okayama Prefecture as well.

Shodoshima boasts several nice beaches, hot spring resorts, and beautiful coastal scenery on the exterior of the island, with a mountainous interior. Some of the sights on the interior of the island include the famous Olive Park, Kankakei Gorge and ropeway, and a monkey park.

Gourmands will enjoy touring a soy sauce museum to learn about the 400-year-old tradition of making soy products on the island. Sesame seed oil and olive products are also well-known items from the region. Popular sightseeing destinations on the exterior of the island include a soy sauce factory, and Angel Road, a sandbar that visitors can walk along at low tide to reach a small island (see SmartTour code SM-KAG-010).

Shodoshima is part of the Setouchi International Art Triennale; as such, several permanent installations of contemporary art are on view to visitors. The artwork creates a wonderful contrast between the modern and the traditional as well as the natural and human-made.

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