Wakayama: Runners Charge Up Temple Steps

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants run up the stone steps at Kimiidera temple in Wakayama City on Jan. 8.

WAKAYAMA — About 150 runners who pride themselves on having strong legs competed to set the fastest time to run up the steep stone steps on the approach to the main hall of Kimiidera temple in Wakayama City.

The temple is well-known for the 231 stone steps leading up to its main hall. It is so tough to climb up that a cable car service started in 2022.

The annual competition, held on Jan. 8 this year, has been held since 2018 to pray for safety in the new year. The time taken for participants to run up 210 of the 231 steps was recorded. The participants started running up the stone steps in turns. Before crossing the finish line, some participants clung to the railings along the steps, while others crouched down in exhaustion.

Spectators who crowded around the stone steps gave participants words of encouragement such as “Hang in there” and “You can do it, you can do it.”

A 32-year-old woman from Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, crossed the finish line in 33.98 seconds, the fastest time in the female category this year. “When I participated in the event before, my legs stopped halfway, but this year I was able to climb smoothly,” she said.

A man with a visual impairment, who participated with an escort runner, reached the goal safely.