“Once in a life time”, that’s what people said about visiting Kotohira-Gu- Shrine in Edo period.
Once you’ve reached the 785th step of the main shrine – Hongu, it’s not over yet.
There are 583 more steps to the inner shrine or Okusha, formally called Izutama Shrine up on the mountain of Zouzu.
Whether you like to explore more of the edo people’s dream or just wanna burn the calories you accumulated during your trip in Japan, you have one more pilgrimage to do from the main shrine.
Yes, it’s 583 more steps and tiring. But, the further you go up, the less people there are and the more serene the mountain gets.
Some Japanese people call it a spiritual place, which I didn’t find so. But I have to admit it was well worth the time and effort once you’ve reached the inner shrine.
Either way, let’s see what you can see and find on the way to the inner shrine from the main shrine.
The first torii gate to the inner shrine
When you go further into the mountain from the right side of the main shrine, you will find this Torii Gate. This is the beginning of the second leg of the pilgrimage.
There are 583 steps to the inner shrine, and it takes from 30 minutes to one hour depending on how fast you walk up.
Steps to the inner shrine
When you come this far, it feels like you are in the mountain.
Shiromine Shrine （白峰神社）
At 923rd step, you find Shiromine shrine. The 75th emperor, Sutoku is enshrined in this Shrine.
The current structures were rebuilt between 1911 and 1912.
There are lots of tall maple trees in this area; the area is called Maple Valley, Momiji Dani in Japanese. In autumn, this area around the shrine is full of colors with maple foliage.
The office of Shiromine Shrine
If you want to buy an amulet or draw a fortune slip, you can do so at this office. There is usually, at least, one priest in this office.
The last rest area to the inner shrine
To be honest, I don’t know how this rest area is called. I was so tired whenI took this picture and didn’t even think about checking the name of this place. I googled but didn’t get any answer in Japanese.
Anyway, when you’ve come to this beautiful vermillion rest area at 1098th step, you have only one last stretch of steps to your final destination – the inner shrine.
Whether you take a rest or keep going, it’s a good point to know you are more than halfway through here.
The torii gate in front of the rest area
There are only about 200 meters to the inner shrine, more exactly 270 steps. It’s about 10 minutes to the inner shrine.
The torii gate to the inner shrine
When you see this torii gate, you’ve made it to the inner shrine or Izutama shrine. You must be tired by then, but the sense of relief and achievement is tremendous.
The Inner Shrine
When I arrived at the inner shrine, there were relatively many people. Phew…. the level of tiredness was at the peak and I had to sit on the bench for a few minutes to recover.
An annual festival takes place on the 6th of January and a monthly festival takes place on the 6th of every month. So if you are on the 6th of January or 6th of any month, it would be worth the effort making it up to the inner shrine.
The office of the inner shrine
Some Japanese people call this inner shrine “power spot “, which is kinda a spiritual place. And the amulet sold at this office is very popular. So it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy an amulet from this shrine.
It’s said the amulet of this shrine will protect you from bad luck or natural disasters.
The panoramic view from the inner shrine
This shrine is 421 meter high(1381.23 feet) above the sea level.
When the sky is clear, you can see the whole panorama of the town down the mountain and even the Seto Inland Sea far back in the picture above.
Making your way back
You’ve reached the final shrine and you feel relieved. Be careful not to trip on the way back to the Kotohira town.
There are 1368 steps to walk down but it feels much easier and faster to go back on the trail to the foot of the mountain.
Opening Time: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Note: It takes about 30 minutes to one hour from the main shrine to the inner shrine, depending on how fast you walk.
So if you’ve reached the main shrine at around 4:00pm, it would be wiser not to go further because it will be completely dark on the way back to the Kotohira Town at the foot of the mountain.
Address: 〒766-8501 香川県仲多度郡琴平町（その他）８９２−１