14-Day SHIKOKU PILGRIMAGE TRAIL - March 15 & 31, 2018

Japan: Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple Trail

Shikoku, the smallest of Japans four main islands, is one of tranquility and beautiful, natural surroundings and home to the fascinating Pilgrimage Temple Trail. This relaxed walk takes you off the beaten path, through rural villages and forests, offering a window to traditional Japan while being so incredibly welcomed by the locals.


TRIP LENGTH: 14 days/13 nights - DEPARTURE DATES: MARCH 15 & 31, 2018 

GROUP SIZE: Maximum 12 - MEALS: 13 Breakfasts, 10 Dinners

OTHER: Luggage Transfer Daily   Max 15kg. * See additional information 'In a Note About the Walking' section below

TRIP GRADE: Moderate - TRIP TYPE:  Hosted/escorted, plus experienced local leader/guide

PRICES FROM: Yen 480,000 per person - SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: On request DEPOSIT: AU$1,000


Japan has been a country inhabited for at least thirty thousand years. During the last ice age, it was connected to mainland Asia by a land bridge allowing stone-age hunters to walk across.  When the ice age ended around 10,000 BC Japan became a group of islands, which is how it sits today.  

Boasting a unique historical culture and warm-hearted people, the island of Shikoku, despite being only a short hop from Osaka remains reasonably isolated, with few travellers making the journey to this relatively undiscovered part of Asia.

Shikoku is perhaps most famous for its pilgrimage route of eighty-eight Sacred Temples. For many Japanese it is a dearly held ambition to complete a circuit of the pilgrimage (also known as Henro ) at some point in their lives, following in the footsteps of the country's greatest saint Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

Our path takes us through rural Japan where the pace of life slows to the rhythm of the seasons, and where natural and spiritual treasures unfold at every step.  We will wander through the beautiful forest to visit 27 of the 88 impressive temples. Those who do make the effort to leave the bustle of Japan's city life behind soon find themselves rewarded by an island of immense natural beauty, steeped in colourful legend and history. The ancient broad-leaved forests, idyllic hot springs and timeless rustic hamlets framed by some of the finest coastal scenery in all of Japan make this walk a truly memorable experience.

Before crossing the water to Shikoku, we travel the short distance from Osaka where we stay a few nights in the serene and secluded town of Koyasan. This is the site of Kobo Daishis mausoleum and the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism.


  • 4 nights Ryokans (Japanese Inn) with a combination of private and shared facilities
  • 5 nights Temples with a combination of private and shared facilities
  • 4 nights Family run hotels with a combination of private and shared facilities


Enjoying local cuisine is an integral part of the excitement and wonder of travel. To sample the flavours and food of a country is all a part of being immersed in the culture. And your journey in Japan with us is no exception. From the freshest of sushi and sashimi to the tastiest tempura and many other mouth-watering morsels, the meals and food will be sure to impress.


The trip (and temples we have chosen to visit) is designed so you get to experience four different areas of Shikoku. To traverse theses short distances across the island, we use a combination of private transfer and rail. On some days, you will walk from temple to temple through villages and other days the course will take you through forests and farming country. 

To enjoy the walking, we recommend a reasonable level of fitness and that you feel comfortable with walking distances ranging from 9 km - 17km over the course of a day.


* Your main luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation, so you only need carry a light day pack.  On a few nights during the trip, your luggage will not be delivered at some of the accommodation, so you will need to take the few items required for those nights in your day pack.  



Day 1/Night 1 & Day 2/Night 2
ARRIVE KOYASAN (Closest major city Osaka) 

The temples of Koyasan form a small town on the wooded mountain, about 1000 metres above sea level, with visitors arriving by cable car, bus or taxi. Sites include the Garan, Kongobuji and the Reihokan Museum. Another must see here is Okunoin, Mount Koya's most sacred site, which contains a cemetery that is home to the remains of warlords, celebrities, samurai, shoguns, high priests, businessmen and artists.

Day 3/Night 3

In 2011 Tokushima had an estimated population of quarter of a million people.  This modern city was founded in 1889 and was once the 10th largest city in Japan. Tokushima is known as having typical characteristics of a Japanese castle town . Initially developed under the Hachisuka clan . Its prosperity was built on a strong indigo dye industry.  Experience a daily Japanese tradition, a ceremony listening to the monks beautiful chanting in the crisp air early in the morning, where you may remember your family members or friends who have passed away. The Japanese culture believes this is a good way to start a new day.

Day 4/Night 4
THE PILGRIMAGE FROM TOKUSHIMA 17km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours  

Visiting Temples 1 to 6 arriving at Ryozenji Temple (Temple 1), with temples 20 minutes to an hour and a half apart.  Anrakuji Temple is the sixth in the group of eighty-eight, and was the training temple of the priest Honen (1133 1212). 

Day 5/Night 5
TOKUSHIMA 13km. Estimated walking time approx. 6 hours  

Walking from Fujiidera Temple (Temple11), established in the 7th century, famous for the beautiful wisteria plant and the dragon painting etched on the ceiling. Fujiidera is one of only 3 Zen temples on this pilgrimage route. We also take the mountain path to Shozanji Temple (Temple 12), enjoying great views as we trek 700 metres above sea level amongst huge old cedar trees and shrouded in mist.

Day 6/Night 6
TOKUSHIMA 9.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours

Hotsumisakiji Temple (Temple 24).  It is said that Kobo Daishi achieved enlightenment here.  There are seven mysteries of Kobo Daishi, and it is the first of the temples on the pilgrimage in Kochi, located near Cape Muroto, on a hilltop.  Shinshouji Temple (Temple 25) is also located on a hill, with great views out to sea from the Port of Murostu. The walking trail hugs the coast with the sounds of the waves along the journey.

Day 7/Night 7
KOCHI 10km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours  

Konhochoji Temple (Temple 26) is the temple constructed to pray for the peace and safety of the nation. There is also memorial tower for whales.

Day 8/Night 8
KOCHI - EHIME 15km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours

There are steep stairs to the shrine of Zenjibuji Temple (Temple 32), however the views of the Pacific Ocean with the temple located specifically to safeguard ships are breathtaking.  Sekkeiji Temple (Temple 33) is famous for the treasures of Kamakura Buddhist statues. This temple was rebuilt after it was burned down at the beginning of the Meiji period. The temple statues are considered national treasures. This is also one of the Zen temples.

Day 9/Night 9

Ehime is situated in the north-western part of Shikoku. Ehime literary means lovely princess . As the name indicates, the climate is warm and mild and the area is rich in beautiful nature. It is surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea, or the Aegean Sea of the Orient, and Shikoku Mountain Range including Mt. Ishizuchi, the highest peak in western Japan. Blessed with the abundant nature, as well as unique history, culture, and a traditional spirit of hospitality, Matsuyama is the capital of Ehime and the largest city of Shikoku. It is best known for its impressive castle and Dogo Onsen.  Dogo Onsen is one of Japan's oldest and most famous hot springs and is popular for its beautiful bathhouse. The Dogo Onsen has also been a frequent destination for Japan's most prestigious guests, the Imperial Family .

Day 10/Night 10
EHIME KAGAWA 11km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours  

Taisanji Temple (Temple 52) and the popular Enmyoji Temple (Temple 53) is in a local residential area. Enmyoji Temple was founded by Shoku Shonin in 966.
Day 11/Night 11
KAGAWA 15km. Estimated walking time approx. 6 hours

Unpenji Temple (Temple 66) is just over 900m above sea level and the highest temple among the 88 temples.  Unpenji Temple is also known as the temple that floats in the clouds. Dropping down to 75m above sea level is Daikoji Temple (Temple 67) nestled amongst the paddy fields. Jinnein Temple (Temple 68) is positioned perfectly on a mountain side, its neighbour, Kanonji Temple (Temple 69), features a grand Camellia Tree said to be 350 years old! Each year there is a festival held to honour the tree.

Day 12/Night 12
KAGAWA 12.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours

This part of the walk is through bamboo bushes and paddy fields to Lyadaniji Temple (Temple 71). History tells us Kobo Daishi practiced here when he was young. We then visit Kobo Daishi s home town and Mandaraj Temple (Temple 72), which is the family temple of the ancestors of Kobo Daishi. A legend says Kobo Daishi jumped to see whether he would dedicate his life for Buddhism to save people or just die for Buddha. His life was saved by Siddhartha, which is the story behind the history Shusshakaji Temple (Temple 73). Kouyamaji Temple (Temple 74) is where an imperial messenger prayed towards 5-year-old Kobo Daishi when he was playing in the precinct. The messenger said he must be a child prodigy. Zentsuji Temple (Temple 75) is the birthplace of Kobo Daishi, one of the three hallowed grounds along with Kongobuji in Koyasan and Toji in Kyoto.

Day 13/Night 13
KAGAWA 10.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours

A downhill track to Yakuriji Temple (Temple 85), which joins the coastal path to Shidoji Temple (Temple 86). Here a magnificent gate and a five-storied pagoda greet you. The history is stimulating and the landscape simply stunning.

Day 14

Today your adventure in Shikoku comes to an end, however your journey will live on through the memories of this unique place.

Wandering the World hope you have had a journey of a lifetime and welcome your choice to wander with us again.


PHONE: +61 402 910 552

EMAIL: Glenyce Johnson glenycej@wanderingtheworld.com.au
or Jane Reed janer@wanderingtheworld.com.au

VISIT: www.wanderingtheworld.com.au

Full booking conditions and payment details available on request.

Wandering the World specialises in creating and tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. This includes both escorted small group and self-guided trips, as well as individually tailored itineraries for privately organised trips.

We are passionate about sharing the places we love and offer our expertise to ensure our travellers enjoy rich and authentic travelling experiences. Wandering the World select authentic and comfortable accommodation and our itineraries are focused on immersing travellers in the local culture and uncovering the hidden gems of a destination. We are committed to ensuring our travellers have a trip of a lifetime.



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