About a forty minute walk outside of Tonosho is a small hilltop shrine called Ataekuroinaka. It is one of the many shrines in Japan that is dedicated to Inari, the fox god. It features a series of vermillion torii gates that are arranged like mountainside dominos. The main structure of the shrine is guarded by Inari and is a great place to get a view of central Tonosho, including the impressive fiery red pagoda of Saikoji Temple that dominates the port area.
The walk to the shrine itself is quite pleasant as you get a good look at the everyday lives of the local people. One of the coolest things that you will see along the way is one of the smallest post offices that you are likely to find.
When you finally make it to the shrine and reach the main structure itself, you will notice how will it is cared for. It is a testament to the fact that every shrine is as important as the next and that they all play a special role in their communities.
The hillside area of Ataekuroinaka underwent a process of renovation in the late 2010’s so you will find it to be highly accessible. Oddly enough the upgrade to the infrastructure has given the shrine more of an urban feel. However, this does not diminish the impact of its fiery gates, which stand like soldiers in formation.
When you are up on the hilltop plateau you feel completely alone and at ease. It is perfectly removed from the road and sidewalk below. The main structure is diminutive yet provides a good home for the gods of the shrine who flank the entrance.
After your visit to the shrine, head back into Tonosho or continue on into Shodoshima Town as far as your feet will take you.
Access: About a 35-40 minute walk from Tonosho Port
ABOUT THE ISLAND
The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima belongs to Kagawa Prefecture, but is easily accessible from ferries running from Okayama Prefecture as well.
Shodoshima boasts several nice beaches, hot spring resorts, and beautiful coastal scenery on the exterior of the island, with a mountainous interior. Some of the sights on the interior of the island include the famous Olive Park, Kankakei Gorge and ropeway, and a monkey park.
Gourmands will enjoy touring a soy sauce museum to learn about the 400-year-old tradition of making soy products on the island. Sesame seed oil and olive products are also well-known items from the region. Popular sightseeing destinations on the exterior of the island include a soy sauce factory, and Angel Road, a sandbar that visitors can walk along at low tide to reach a small island (see SmartTour code SM-KAG-010).
Shodoshima is part of the Setouchi International Art Triennale; as such, several permanent installations of contemporary art are on view to visitors. The artwork creates a wonderful contrast between the modern and the traditional as well as the natural and human-made.
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