Japan: Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple Trail

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s 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, where you will be so incredibly welcomed by the locals.


  DEPARTURE DATES: March 17, 2021 

TRIP LENGTH: 14 days/13 nights  GROUP SIZE: Maximum 12            MEALS: 13 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners  

OTHER: Luggage Transfer - 15kg. * See additional information in 'A Note About the Walking' section below

TRIP GRADE: Moderate  TRIP TYPE: Experienced local leader/guide

PRICE FROM: Yen 525,000 per person SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: On request DEPOSIT: AU$1,500



Konnichiwa. Welcome to Japan.

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 34 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.

Before crossing the water to Shikoku, we travel the short distance from Osaka, where we spend two nights in the serene and secluded town of Koyasan. This is the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum and the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism.


3 nights Temples with a combination of private and shared facilities

10 nights 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 three different areas of Shikoku. To traverse theses short distances across the island, we use a combination of private transfer, bus 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 15km 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

Transfer from Koyasan and then ferry across to Shikoku Island and the city of Tokushima. 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. Visit Ryozenji Temple (Temple 1). The temple is in a serene garden setting where there are statues carved by Kobo Daishi. 

Day 4/Night 4 
THE PILGRIMAGE FROM TOKUSHIMA – 15km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours

Starting with a transfer to Anrakuji Temple (Temple 6), the site of an ancient hot spring, we commence our walk through small rural villages on mainly flat terrain. From here, we visit Juraku-ji Temple (Temple 7), with its large double tree called the 'parent and child' pine, dating back 300 years; Kumataniji Temple (Temple 8), which has a gate that is considered to be the finest of all 88 temples; Horinji Temple (Temple 9), which has the only reclining Buddha statue - carved by Kobo Daishi - on the Shikoku pilgrimage and finally Kirihataji Temple (Temple10), with 330 steps on the path up to the main hall. From Temple 10 we have a private transfer to our accommodation.

Day 5/Night 5
TOKUSHIMA – 10km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours

Today’s walk is mainly flat, along paved paths. We start with a visit to Idoji Temple (Temple 17), with its seven Medical Buddha statues. Then to the Soto Zen Buddhist Kanonji Temple (Temple 16); Kokubunji (Temple 15); Jorakuji (Temple 14) which has one of the most unusual courtyards of the entire pilgrimage built on an uneven rock bed and finally Dainichiji (Temple 13).

Day 6/Night 6
TOKUSHIMA – 12km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours

Private transfer from Temple 13. We have a short, uphill walk through the forest to the Kakurin-ji Temple (Temple 20), the Crane Forest Temple - the crane being a symbol of longevity and good fortune. We then descend to a small rural hamlet and climb again to Tairyu-ji Temple (Temple 21) with spectacular views over the cedar forest.

Day 7/Night 7

KAGAWA – 17km. Estimated walking time approx. 5.5 hours

Train transfer to Kagawa Prefecture, firstly walking to Negoro-ji (Temple 82) and then Shiromine-ji (Temple 81) which has some of the oldest buildings on the pilgrimage, dating back to the 17th century. These two temples are located on a plateau called Goshiki Dai (The Plateau of Five Colours) because it consists of five differently coloured peaks symbolising the five forms of the Cosmic Buddha. Finally, we visit Kokubun-ji (Temple 80), which has the finest and largest statue on Shikoku with eleven faces and forty-two arms.

Day 8/Night 8
KAGAWA - Rest Day

A full day to rest or explore Kotohira Spa. Visit the Shinto shrine Konpira-dai-gongen, located halfway up Mount Zozu, at an elevation of 520 metres. Option to visit the Konpira Grand Theatre Kanamaruza Kabuki Hall, the oldest original Kabuki Theatre.

Day 9/Night 9
EHIME - Rest Day (Half day train transfer to Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture)

Ehime is situated in the north-western part of Shikoku and 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 - 12km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours

Private transfer to Iwaya-ji Temple (Temple 45) which is closely linked to Kobo Daishi. Here you can visit his meditation spot with beautiful views of the surrounding region. Walking along mountain and forest trails from Temple 45 to Daiho-ji (Temple 44) which is located on top of a mountain in a calm and quiet cedar forest.

Day 11/Night 11
EHIME – 13.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 4.5 hours

Private transfer to Joruriji Temple (Temple 46), where there is a stone image of the Buddha’s footprints. It is said that if you stand on it with your bare feet, any pain in your feet will disappear. The walk today is mainly flat through a mix of suburban and countryside. From here we walk to Yasakaji Temple (Temple 47), Sairinji Temple (Temple 48), Jodoji Temple (Temple 49) and then Hantaji Temple (Temple 50).

Day 12/Night 12
EHIME – 15.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours

Train transfer to Nankobo Temple (Temple 55). Today’s walk takes us from urban townscape to rural farming villages, before entering a forest with a gradual climb and then downhill. From Temple 55 to Enmeiji Temple (Temple 54), a temple for scholarly learning and onto Taisanji Temple (Temple 56) known as ‘Easy Birth Temple’ as the main deity is to ease child birth. Walk to Eifuku Temple (Temple 57) a favourite location for offering prayers for safety at sea, Taisan-ji Temple (Temple 58) and finally Iyo Kokubun-ji Temple (Temple 59) where it is said that Kobo Daishi stayed and painted five great deities.

Day 13/Night 13
EHIME – 13.5km. Estimated walking time approx. 4.5 hours

Train and private transfer and then an uphill walk to Yokomine-ji Temple (Temple 60) located on top of a 700 metre mountain. From here it is down through the forest and rural landscapes to Maegamiji Temple (Temple 64). Both these temples are set in picturesque natural surroundings.

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

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.

*If your printer does not print to pdf, try using Chrome as your browser - download software here