Kotohira Shrine, Shikoku

The Kotohira Shrine in Kagawa on Shikoku Island is famous for its steps. Its 1368 steps! It isn’t as bad as it sounds though, and if you are visiting Takamatsu and have seen the obvious sites (Ritsurin Park, Tamamo Castle), then consider going to the Kotohira Shrine (also known as Konpira-San) next. It is one of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines.

Get the Kotoden train (the right one!) from Kawaramachi station in Takamatsu’s Tenmaya department store and go to the end of the line. Outside the station you’ll see this imposing wood and stone building.

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Head towards the mountain and you’ll find the beginning of the steps. At this early stage of the climb there are loads of shops and food places on either side. You can buy snacks, udon, ice cream, and even imitation samurai swords and air pistols! Many people will buy a stick from here to help them with the climb.

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You can pay (for a hefty price) to be carried up the steps by two tired looking locals on a chair.

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Don’t let the step count intimidate you though – it isn’t that bad. There were plenty of elderly people, and children making their way up when I was there. There are loads of areas to stop off on the way so you can take lots of breaks. Just don’t try it on a really hot day – you’ll suffer!

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As you go up there are a variety of statues, shrines, and other buildings for you to look at.

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Part way up and the view is starting to look good.

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Through a torri gate, and towards another flight of steps.

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There are some interesting items to look at. Including a large gold coloured propeller.

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And a wood covered area housing some kind of boat, and a man performing some kind of ceremony.

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More steps – can’t be long to go now.

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And finally – the highest point you can go.

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Here’s the view from near the top of the stairs.

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And then of course I have to go back down the steps. There are a lot of steps, but all the interesting stops on the way up, and the views take your mind off it. If elderly people and school children can manage it, then as long as you have a basic level of fitness you should have no trouble.

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