Kompirasan, officially known as Kotohiragu, is the main shrine of multiple Kompira shrines found around Japan that are dedicated to sailors and seafaring. It is located on the wooded slope of Mount Zozu in Kotohira and the approach to Kompirasan is a laborious series of 1,368 stone steps.
Over many centuries, Kompirasan had been revered as a mixture between Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine, until it was officially declared a shrine in the beginning of the Meiji Period during government efforts to separate the two religions. Nevertheless, the previous symbiosis is still visible in Kompirasan's architecture which displays both Shinto and Buddhist elements.
Kompirasan is a highly popular site visited by pilgrims from across the country despite being one of the most difficult shrine approaches in Japan. The approach begins amongst a touristy shopping arcade filled with souvenir shops and Sanuki Udon restaurants, from where it is a 785- step climb (about 45 minutes) past a number of auxiliary shrine buildings and museums to the main hall of the shrine.
Next to the main hall is a viewpoint overlooking Kotohira Town, and the Ema Hall which exhibits plates and pictures of ships, battleships and even space rockets whose crews sought the protection of the shrine. A real mini submarine is also displayed.
For the tourists have enough energy it is an additional 583 steps (an additional 45 minutes) along a paved, forested path to the inner shrine (Okusha) of the complex.
Most visitors only make it up to the main hall; however, Those unable (or unwilling) to make the climb, can hire a palanquin (5300 yen one way or 6500 yen round trip) up to the main hall or take a bus (see details below).
The start of the long approach to Kompirasan is a 10 to 15 minute walk from JR Kotohira and Kotoden Kotohira Stations.
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892-1, Kotohira, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa, 766-0001