I passed a red lantern and ascended about a dozen steps to find a huge stone facing me on my right.
The stone stretched out flat and was positioned so that a person could easily get on top.
At first glance, it looks like a normal, over-sized stone, but in fact, it has a story behind it.
It is called the "seed sowing stone."
Legend has it that long ago, rice seeds were thrown down from the top of this stone to be planted in the fields below, after which they spread across Japan.
The stone tells the story of how rice cultivation started in Japan.
It holds particular meaning for me, since I have truly loved rice since I was a child.
Standing before the stone, I put my hands together in prayer and gratitude.
Urata Shrine is on the same property and is a sacred space dedicated to rice.
In front of the shrine, I said another prayer expressing many years of thanks before I went on my way.