This is the base of the large metal lantern at the top of the stairs that lead to Kon-do. I noticed the little tortoises around the base for the first time! The tortoise is said to live up to 10,000 years in Japanese lore, it is a very auspicious symbol.
When you visit Ninna-ji you will likely see many school children in their uniforms around. Ninna-ji is a common destination for students on school trips from all across the country. Sometimes they have English assignments they need help with, but most of the time they just need help taking a few group photographs.