Hello from Japan! :)
I was lucky enough to be invited back to Japan and experience it for the third time thanks to The National Tourism Organization of Japan and their #JapanRevealed campaign this December!
Our first mission upon arriving in Kotohira was to visit Kompirasan. Kompirasan, formally known as Kotohiragu, is the main shrine of multiple kompira shrines found around Japan that are dedicated to sailors. Located on the heavily vegetated slope of Mount Zozu in Kotohira, the walk up to the top of Kompirasan is an arduous series of 1368 stone steps!
Plenty of people only make it up the first 785 steps to the main hall of the shrine choosing to skip the last 583 steps to the inner shrine. I almost gave up but pushed through on the last 300 steps which took me about 45 minutes. The view at the top was truly worth it as we were surrounded by a sea of warm autumn colours. It really helped to brighten things up!
Kompirasan is seriously worth a visit if you’re in the area! I truly felt a sort of spiritual awakening after this trip. We were lucky enough to have a helpful little tour guide who went by the name of Yoko who not only acted as a personal cheerleader in getting us up to the top of the mountain but also informed us that the top of the mountain was where one could truly meet the human spirit.
P.s For those who can’t manage the steps it is possible to hire a palanquin (6800 yen for a roundtrip) ;)