Friday, June 15, 2007

Konpira Shrine, Kotohira, Shikoku

Konpira Shrine is a famous shrine at the top of a fairly steep mountain in Kotohira, Shikoku. Becky, Jun, and I climbed up the 1368 stone steps to the top and we were very proud of Jun for not taking a single cigarette break!

There were many shops situated on the sides of the stone path/steps where we could rest and browse for souvenirs.

The shrine and the view at the top were beautiful but because there were so many other tourists there, it didn't feel as intimate as the one we visited the day before. We threw our coins in and clapped to get the Gods' attentions, and prayed for health and all that good stuff. I love how people tie up their wishes on paper and wrap them around trees!!!

Many Japanese tourists were prepared with walking sticks, backpacks and water bottles!

We went to a relaxing onsen complex with indoor and outdoor baths (with floating flowers!). We splurged on an "akasuri" treatment (exfoliation & body shampoo)... can't say that I enjoyed that too much though- my OCD-ness was kicking in after I realized we were all just getting on top of this padded vinyl table one after another and the woman was like mechanically flipping us like burgers and vigorously scrubbing us with the same exfoliating gloves! Questionable.

However, we did enjoy a huge dinner afterwards. Shikoku is famous for its udon, so of course we had to try it. The menu offered a big wooden tub of it for 4-5 people, but the 3 of us polished it off, along with a few other side dishes effortlessly. Behind us was a group of yukata-clad older men, maybe on a company retreat or something, with their "company" (beautiful paid female "escorts" dressed in smart green skirt suits who would "accompany" these men for the night (paid by the hour!)... I suppose sort of like what "geisha" used to do back in the day.

At one point, we passed an impressive blooming onion field- the green leaves (stems?) were at least 3 feet high, each one topped with a ball of white flowers! It looked like something out of a Miyazaki film!

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