Saturday, 26 August 2017

Postcard from Kotohira Shrine, Kagawa-ken

Counting practice!
Can you think of anything better than to set of in the blazing mid-summer heat to climb 785 stone steps half-way up a mountain? If not, then I thoroughly recommend setting your sights on Kotohira Shrine on Mt. Zouzo, in Kagawa prefecture (Japan's smallest prefecture, by the way) on Shikoku Island.

Kotohira Shrine
It is a tough climb for the fit and able. My son raced up it; I paused 'to take photos'...but there were plenty of oldies making the climb, and I was humbled to a one-legged bloke about to tackle the steps as I was nearing the sanctuary of a noodle restaurant at the bottom.

There are a number of interesting shrines along the climb, but no information anywhere in English (or any other language) to inform tourists. This would have made my journey more satisfying - I like to know what I'm looking at!

Who he?
I did discover (Google!) that the main shrine is dedicated to mariners & seafarers - explains the massive propeller and anchor, and a subsidiary building with an ocean-going row boat in it, and pictures of boats great and small, new and some very old indeed. I found one stone plinth with the name "Hood" on it - a CEO or something of a shipping company. I wondered if he was any relation to the Hoods (an Admiral, a Baronet & a Captain), of Royal Navy service? I doubt few visitors up here have ever heard of HMS Hood?

Anyway, cracking view of the unusual Kagawa landscape from Kotohira-gu and plenty of good photos to be taken if you are not dripping with sweat! An easier walk uphill in the shade, through the woods, is much more relaxing and peaceful. I got as far as Shiramine Shrine before turning back to catch up with my family.
Shiramine Shrine - worth the extra climb

I loved this collection of shrines, and would like to know more/spend more time poking about!