A Buddhist and Shinto holy place for 1,000 years, Konpira-gu (AKA Kotohira-san or Konpira-daigongen) officially became solely a Shinto shrine dedicated to the guardian kami of fishermen and seafarers during the Meiji period, and latterly also has been looked upon as a protector of international as well as local travellers.
Being someone with international traveller tendencies, I felt it imperative to go check out this ancient shrine -- and rather than be put off by "one of the most difficult shrine approaches in Japan", I looked forward to the experience that I figured would be memorable, and to check out one of the larger shrine complexes I've been to in the country...
Pass through the large torii gate to get on the 1,368 stone steps
that make up the Sando Approach up to Konpira-san
The aged, infirm and others willing to pay the price are carried up
in a palanquin up the first 225 steps to the shrine's main gate
In the courtyard just past the main gate are five representatives of
farmers allowed to trade within the grounds of Konpira-san
Each of the hundreds, if not thousands, of stone markers
found on the sides of the path are records of donations
made to this shrine in Kotohira
Puppet Ponyo points to just a few of the many steps within the
precinct of this temple located on 521-meter-high Mount Zozu
The large Asahi-no-Yashiro shrine looks pretty impressive,
but it actually isn't Konpira-san's main shrine or building!
The stone monk image points to more stone steps you have
to ascend in order to get to Konpira-san's main shrine...
So near... and yet so far?
(To be continued...!)