This semester, I took a module in Japan seasons and cultural events where every week we would learn something regarding to the Japanese culture. 1 of the weeks, we did a walk through the Shrine and Japanese garden near school and learnt a lot.
In Mizuinari Shrine (水稲荷神社), there is this little hill called Takada-Fuji (高田富士) which is only opened once a year. This little hill was made in the 1780s, for the Japanese people to climb this little hill to signify that they had gone up Mount Fuji since it was very difficult for the people then to travel all the way down to Shizuoka-ken to view/climb the acclaimed Mount Fuji. This tradition is still kept to this day where they would open up the steps to this little hill for people to climb annually during the second week of July.
The middle stone laid pavement is not for humans to walk but for the gods. We humans should always walk by the side when we enter the Shrines but I guess not many people observe this (even the young Japanese too)
One should cleanse themselves before we enter to pray to the gods. Read here for the steps at the purification fountain.