Kotohira Palace is one of the places that Japanese must make a formal visit once in their lifetime. It is also publicly acknowledged that Kotohira Palace is one of the most difficult shrines to approaches in Japan. This is because if you want to visit this shrine, you need to put physical effort. The main shrine has 785 stairs high, and the inner shrine is located at 1368 stairs high. It is really to challenge people’s sincerity (laugh).
Kotohira Palace is located at the halfway of the Head Mountain with altitude 521 meter at the Western part of Kagawa prefecture. If you take the train to visit there, the nearest is the JR Kotohira Station or the private railway Takamatsu Kotohira line and get off at “ Kotoden-Kotohira Station”. It takes around 15 ~20 minutes by walk from “Kotoden-Kotohira Station.
Kotohira Palace is the main attraction of Kotohira, so you will see the entire station is promoting Kotohira Palace.
The station has the cartoon map; it is cute and practical.
The exit gates all have the word “Gold”.
Kotohira station looks a bit old, not too many visitors there.
Walk all the way along; you will reach the road quickly.
There is a small shrine on the roadside.
Along the road there are many shops for visitors to buy the hiking equipment. The hiking bamboo stick is available in all shops, so the more 1,000 stairs are not joke.
They also have the Kotohira straw hats and fans. They are not just cute but very practical as well.
If you do not want to do climbing, you can choose to be lifted, but only up to half way. You need to reach the inner shrine on your own foot eventually.
Before the climbing journey, we need to get back our strength by enjoy good food. There are many Udon restaurants for Udon is the famous product of the Kagawa prefecture. Today we choice the 100 year old restaurant – Toraya.
We chose the shrimp tempura udon, the shrimp is very chewy, egg mixture is not too thick and with rich egg flavor. The soup is clear and sweet. Not to say the Udon is very smooth and chewy.
Once entering the gate, you will see a row of small stalls selling souvenirs. They are selling the same stuff.
The real millions avenue
They constantly remind you no matter how hard it is; you need to keep your smile because only smile will bring happiness.
Have to reminded you once more time, if you are tired, stop and look back, don’t miss the beautiful sceneries behind you.
On the halfway, you will meet the God’s horses, one white and one black.
The white God’s horse “月琴号”, we saw its butt only.
Luckily we saw another horse is walking, we could see its heroic bearing.
You can take photos while climbing up, so it’s not too hard. A kind reminder that still has 133 stairs to go then you will reach the main shrine. Hang in there.
Arrived Main Shrine
Everybody climbed up more than 700 stairs; of course, you need to buy some souvenirs. The most famous souvenir is the yellow Happiness Omamori that I bought one as well. Hope to bring back home with some happiness.
On the observation platform, you can take a rest and enjoy Kotohira’s scenery, then take up the challenge again.
After a good rest, we climbed up again and heading to the inner shrine.
There are signposts to indicate the distance of the inner shrine.
The last 200 meters are all stairs, no resting place.
Finally we reached the top. This sign witnesses everybody’s great effort. Therefore it is a photo spot.
Climb hard has return. Stand high, the scenery also much more beautiful.
No wonder it is one of the most difficult shrines to approach. People who arrived here are with great effort; believe gods will listen to the pray.
Went all the way down from the inner shrine is really tired. Don’t worry there are many restaurants at the hill foot. You can eat at much as you can.
To sum up
It is worth to visit Kotohira Palace, but you need to bring the following gears.
1. Hat, Sunglasses: This is because the location is high and the UV is strong, so need to do the sunblock as protection
2. Hiking bamboo stick: People who are not used to hiking can use the stick to assist them
3. Fans and handkerchief
4. Outer Jacket: After arriving the inner shrine, it’s windy. To play safe it is better to bring an outer jacket with you to avoid get cold.
5. Mosquitoes prevention: There are many mosquitoes along the mountain roads. You have to use the anti-mosquitoes lotion on every parts of your body
Kotohira Palace Official Website: http://www.konpira.or.jp/