Japan’s Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage Route

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  • Start Osaka or Kyoto to Tokushima
  • End Kansai back to Kyoto or Osaka
  • DateAll year round (snow December to March)
  • Duration 8 days / 7 nights
  • Distance42 miles, with another 8 miles extensions
  • GradeEasy, Moderate & Challenging Sections

Visit the Shrines of the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route

Shikoku, Japan’s fourth-largest island, is renowned for its ancient Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage route. This walking trail and ancient pilgrimage route takes in 88 historic Buddhist temples, stretching over a thousand kilometres.

Historically, pilgrims, or o-henro-san, would traverse this path on foot, spanning several weeks, and find rest at Shukubo temple lodgings along the way.

However, modern developments have obscured parts of the original trail, and 21st-century Japanese travellers often opt for tour buses to journey between temples. Yet, stretches of the authentic path remain accessible for those eager to explore on foot, where you’ll encounter o-henro dressed in traditional white pilgrim attire, sedge hats, and carrying walking staves.

The trail offers a mix of easy, moderate, and challenging sections that can be adapted in length. We utilize local transport to connect these paths, guiding you around the island to experience the most captivating routes.

Expect unparalleled hospitality from the island’s residents, who maintain a longstanding tradition of kindness to visitors. The journey promises encounters with stunning natural landscapes, serene forest trails, quaint rural villages, bustling cities, and as many of the 88 temples as possible, complemented by relaxing hot springs and traditional Japanese meals.

Continue reading below for our full Shikoku Pilgrimage itinerary. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

(Travellers interested in the Shikoku Pilgrimage may also be interested in our Self-Guided Tour of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route.)

Price Includes

  • Roundtrip travel from Osaka or Kyoto
  • 7 Nights Accommodation
  • On Trip Transport
  • 2 Meals / day
  • 5 Taxis

Price Excludes

  • Driver Service Fee
  • Guide Service Fee
  • Room Service Fees

Shikoku Temple Trail Highlights

  • The loveliest parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Trail
  • Atmospheric Temples
  • Bathe in natural thermal waters at historic Dogo Onsen
  • Climb the iconic ladder to the meditation spot used by Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism

Food and Drink on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Enjoy the delicious traditional cuisine of the Japanese countryside, both from the sea and from the mountains.

The rich Kuroshio ocean current sweeps across the southern tip of the Kii Peninsula bringing with it a plethora of fresh seafood. The surrounding lush mountainside has a long culinary history of cooking with wild plants and livestock. Delicious local food, seafood and locally raised Wagyu beef and farm-fresh vegetables.

One of the great joys of travelling is to dine on local dishes and we think you will enjoy the experience of eating fresh, delicious, rural Japanese cuisine in a relaxed, authentic environment.

(If you’re fascinated by cultural traditions and national cuisines, you may wish to consider more of our international Camino Tours in Spain and beyond!)

Shikoku Pilgrimage Tour Itinerary

Day 1 - 3.6 miles / 5.8 km / pretty flat

Travel from Osaka or Kyoto by train. Arrive in Tokushima and enjoy a gentle walk through the quiet neighbourhoods of Tokushima to visit Temple 1, Temple 2 and Temple 3.

Overnight – Shukubo pilgrims lodge. There is also the option of staying at a traditional Ryokan.

Day 2 - 1.9 miles / 19.2 km / 1300m ascent / 1200m descent

Transfer to Temple 11. From here start a challenging hike to Temple 12. The full walk is one of the longest and most strenuous on the tour, at 12 miles with 1,330m ascent and 1,210m descent around 7-8 hours. But, you can reduce the walk to 4-5 hours / 6.5 miles by starting halfway up Mt. Shosan-ji. You can decide what you feel like doing on the day or evening before.

Travel by bus to Tokushima for your overnight stay in a city-centre. Choice of Ryokan (traditional travellers inn) or western-style hotel.

Day 3 - 5.1 miles / 8.2 km / 460m ascent / 470m descent

Transfer to one of the most beautiful hikes on the entire 88 Pilgrimage route. Start at Temple 20, this much shorter trail today crosses the Nakagawa River and climbs again to Temple 21. End the day with a cable car ride with wonderful views over a cedar forest.

Accommodation is a Ryokan (traditional travellers inn) or Hotel.

Day 4 - 8.4 miles / 13.5 km / 335m ascent / 655m descent

Transfer to northern Kagawa Prefecture. Visit Temple 82, Temple 81 and finally Temple 80. Travel on by train to the hot-spring town of Kotohira Spa – this can be shortened by skipping Temple 81.

Travel onwards by train for an overnight stay in the old hot-spring town of Kotohira Spa.

Day 5 - 2.7 miles / 4.4 km / 250 m ascent / no descent

Transfer to Imabari and hike to Temple 57. The walk gradually passes from urban townscape to rural farming communities before entering a forest with a steady climb to Temple 58. Overnight in the Shukubo pilgrims lodgings at the temple, or a western-style hotel in Imabari City.

Overnight at the Shukubo pilgrim lodgings at the temple, or alternatively stay in a western-style hotel in Imabari City.

Day 6 - 3 miles / 4.4 km / no ascent / 250m descent

A gentle downhill hike from Senyū-ji, exploring small settlements on the way back to Imabari. Town hike to Temple 59 then on to Matsuyama by train and overnight in Dogo Onsen. This walk can be extended by 2.5 miles / 4.1 km.

Overnight at an Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn).

Day 7 - 7.3 miles / 11.3 km / 650m ascent / 580m descent

Transfer from Matsuyama to Temple 45, a temple closely linked to Kōbō Daishi – the priest who founded Shingon Buddhism. Climb the iconic ladder to his meditation spot, with spectacular views over the surrounding region. Then a forest hike to Temple 44 and a bus to Matsuyama in the evening.

Overnight at an Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn).

Day 8 - 13.7km / 8.5 miles / 620m ascent / 870m descent

Transfer to the trail and enjoy a rural walk to Temple 60, Temple 61and onwards to Temple 62. On by train to the Kansai area, arriving mid-evening. The hike can be reduced by 1.5 miles skipping the first uphill section and starting to walk from Temple 60.

Transfer by train to Osaka or Kyoto.

We can arrange your hotel accommodation in Kyoto or Osaka.

Map

Accommodation

Shobuku & Ryokan

Shobuku – pilgrim lodging in temples

Ryokan – traditional travellers inns

Reviews

Japan’s Shikoku 88
FromGBP£2,240

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