88 temples · 1200 years · 4 prefectures · 1150 km

The Shikoku Pilgrimage | Travel Tips and Practical Advice for on the way

Duration and stages | Food | Internet and Telephone | Money | Internet and Telephone | Overnight Stay | Overnight Stay in Temple | Route and elevation profile | Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide | Shikoku’s Tourist Destinations

Duration of the pilgrimage and length of the stages

A general statement about the total duration can not be made naturally. The distance from Temple 1 to Temple 88 and back to the starting point, to Temple 1, is 1,150 km. How long you need to walk the whole way depends on how many hours you can and want to walk a day. How fast you walk and whether you take break days.
Often the time it takes a pilgrim to walk the 1,150 km is given as about 42 days (6 weeks). In other places with 30 to 60 days (about 4.5 to 8.5 weeks).
Those who can and want to take six weeks for the 1,150 km must cover an average of about 27 km daily. Depending on your personal pace, this results in a pure walking time of between 5 and 7 hours. On top of that, there are additional routes that are covered on foot. In the temple itself, from the pilgrimage route to the accommodation and back, to buy food/drinks and the detours if one gets lost.
This can add another 5 to 15 percent to the distance.
The often stated 42 days is probably a good basis for your own planning. For this, one will walk an average of about 30 km a day.
The personal total duration can then be estimated by deductions, or surcharges.

The length of the daily stages themselves will be quite different for most pilgrims. Also depending on how many temples are visited in a day and how much time is spent in the temple in each case. Depending on the location of the possible accommodation, the slopes to be climbed and the current fitness.
With the total duration of 42 days and the average 30 km per day, it is likely that on some days only 20 km or even less will be covered. On other days, the distance might be more than 35 km.

For those who also visit all 20 secondary temples (Bangai) on their way, the direct distance of 1,150 km is extended to over 1,300 km.

Overnight Stay

Shikoku offers a variety of different accommodations for pilgrims. Privately run guesthouses and guesthouses; free accommodation, private or in temples; (business) hotels and the typical ryokans found throughout Japan.
Very helpful for planning and making accommodation reservations by phone is the Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide. This guide lists a variety of guesthouses, minshukus, ryokans and hotels, each with phone numbers. Location and distance from the pilgrimage route can also be found.
Many of the accommodations listed there can only be reserved by telephone. Booking via the Internet is often not possible.
The owners of minshuku and ryokan sometimes speak little English, so that telephone reservations are only possible in Japanese. However, usually a fellow pilgrim who speaks Japanese will be found who can and will assist in booking an overnight stay by phone. Another option is to ask the owners of the accommodation where you are staying to make a reservation by phone for the overnight stay at the next accommodation.
Overnight stays at “Henro House” should generally be booked online. Most hotels, especially in the larger cities can be reserved online through the well-known international booking portals.

Minshuku   民宿

Family pension offering accommodation with dinner and Japanese breakfast.
For dinner and usually for breakfast there is almost always fish, often different types and preparations.
The pension owners usually get the food for the guests in the morning. Therefore, reservations are required no later than early morning.
Dinner (about 18:00) and breakfast (about 06:30) are served at the same time for all overnight guests.
Overnight is spent with futon on tatami mats. The bathroom is shared with all guests. Washing machine and dryer can be used for a small fee.
Arrival at the Minshuku should be no later than 17:00.

Ryokan   旅館

Traditional Japanese accommodation, which usually offers more services and comfort than a minshuku.
Very big differences are possible in offer and price. Therefore, clarify the price before booking.
Many ryokans, such as those offered to pilgrims on Shikoku, do not differ from minshukus at first glance.
Japanese dinner and breakfast are also offered in the ryokan.
Overnight is spent with futon on tatami mats. Usually washing machine and dryer can be used for a small fee.
Also in the ryokan, arrival should be no later than 5:00 pm.

Hotel/Business-Hotel   ホテル

Western equipped, with bed and with bathroom in the room. No meals are offered. Japanese breakfast bookable, sometimes supplemented with American breakfast. Business hotels are often cheaper.
Flexible arrival times.

Henro House

Association of private houses that offer accommodation for pilgrims. The houses are located throughout the island, on or near the pilgrimage route. The overnight stays can be booked via the Internet. After registering once on the organization’s website: henrohouse.jp
Information on availability of accommodation, conditions, prices (mostly around 3,000 yen) can also be found on the Henro House website.

Tsuyadō

Free accommodation in the temple. Includes only the place to sleep. No meals, no bath, no bedding.
Be sure to ask at the temple if there is a possibility to stay overnight at Tsuyadō.

Zenkonyado

Free private accommodation. Offer like Tsuyadō.

Sleep outdoors

Wild camping is prohibited by law.
In reality, there are quite a few pilgrims who spend the night outside in sleeping bags or tents.

Overnight Stay in Temple – Shukubō 宿坊

The following temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail offer overnight accommodation (as of May 2021):

No.TempleCityPrefecture
6Anrakuji (安楽寺)Kamiita (上板町)Tokushima
7Jūrakuji (十楽寺)Awa (阿波市)Tokushima
19Tatsueji (立江寺)Komatsushima (小松島市)Tokushima
22Byōdōji (平等寺)Anan (阿南市)Tokushima
24Hotsumisakiji (最御崎寺)Muroto (室戸市)Kōchi
26Kongōchōji (金剛頂寺)Muroto (室戸市)Kōchi
37Iwamotoji (岩本寺)Shimanto (四万十町)Kōchi
38Kongōfukuji (金剛福寺)1Tosashimizu (土佐清水市)Kōchi
40Kanjizaiji (観自在寺)Ainan (愛南町)Ehime
44Daihōji (大宝寺)1Kuma-kōgen (久万高原町)Ehime
58Senyūji (仙遊寺)Imabari (今治市)Ehime
75Zentsuji (善通寺)Zentsuji (善通寺市)Kagawa
81Shiromineji (白峯寺)1Sakaide (坂出市)Kagawa
1 for bus groups only

No.TempleCityPrefecture
Bangai 4Saba Daishi (鯖大師)Kaiyō (海陽)Tokushima
Bangai 7Shussekiji (出石寺)Ozu (大洲)Ehime
Bangai 18Kaiganji (海岸寺)Tadotsu (多度津)Kagawa

Temple accommodations are often booked by large groups of pilgrims who usually arrive in buses.
If rooms are available, individual pilgrims are also accepted. At temples 38; 44 and 81, overnight accommodations are offered exclusively for bus groups and not for individual travelers.
Participation in a religious ceremony after dinner or before breakfast is possible.
In addition, the facilities and services at Shukubō are comparable to those at minshuku and ryokan.
Washing machine/dryer for use for a fee, shared bathroom, futon on tatami mats.

Route and elevation profile

Map and elevation profile – Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

Many thanks to Matsushita-san, the author of „Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide 2020“ for providing the elevation profile of the pilgrimage route and the accompanying legend. More info at: henro88map.com henro88map.com/pdf
 

Source overview map

 

Quelle Übersichtskarte

The 88 temples of Shikoku (John Cant)

John Cant, who visited Shikoku’s 88 temples by bicycle in the spring of 2009, has created a map (Google Map) showing the locations of all the temples: The 88 temples of Shikoku

Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide

The pilgrim guide – in English.
With a lot of general information about the pilgrimage. And with detailed maps of the routes to the 88 temples and to the 20 Bangai temples.
All maps with accommodation, restaurants, stores and much more.

Food

In Minshuku, Ryokan and Shukubō, the price includes dinner on the day of arrival and breakfast on the day of departure, in addition to accommodation.
Japanese dishes are always served. In the evening fish, often in several variations, served with rice, various vegetables and miso soup.
For breakfast there is rice, miso soup, often some fish and vegetables and scrambled eggs. The hot drink is green tea. Coffee can usually not be ordered.
Those who like fish will in most cases get their money’s worth.

Vegetarians or even vegans are often not very well catered for.
Japanese usually eat only small amounts of meat and fish. However, they are part of very many dishes. Even the broths of the famous Japanese noodle soups are usually made from fish flakes or meat/bones.

In business hotels and hotels, meals are not included. Breakfast is often offered as an option for a small additional cost. Mostly as Japanese and Western buffet. So also with toast, bread, coffee, butter, sausage, cheese.

Hotels are a good choice for pilgrims who prefer to cater for themselves or who would like to eat only vegetarian food.

For lunch there is the possibility to eat very cheap in restaurants. Alternatively, you can buy food in konbinis or supermarkets along the way.
In the countryside it is recommended to carry an “emergency ration”. Nuts, dried fruits, crackers. Or to provide yourself with bento (boxed lunch) or onigiri.
Drinks can be bought in all markets and stores. In addition, also at the countless beverage vending machines you’ll find on Shikoku.

The local specialty in Kōchi is real bonito (katsuo-no-tataki).The bonito is fried very briefly over straw fire or charcoal, then immediately plunged into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process and cut into sashimi. 

In Kagawa, be sure to try Sanuki Udon, the local noodles, which are slightly thinner than the usual udon.

 

Money and payment

In the rural areas of Shikoku, payment can often only be made in cash. In minshukus and most ryokans, payment must be made in cash, in the city and in the countryside. In temple lodgings, payment must also be made in cash.
In cities, credit cards can be used in many places. Rooms in hotels and business hotels can often be paid for by credit card.

Cash can be drawn from Japan Post Bank ATMs. Opening hours Mon-Fri 09:00 to 17:00; Sat 09:00 to 12:00; Sun closed.
Other cash dispensers are located in the konbinis (convenience stores) 7-Eleven, Lawson und Family Mart, which are very common on Shikoku. (open 7 days / 24 hours) 

Before traveling to Japan, check with your card issuer about the use and validity of your card in Japan and about the fees that apply to cash withdrawals and payments in Japan.

Internet and Telephone

Wifi = WLAN

Free WiFi is available in many places on Shikoku. For example, in hotels, business hotels, cafes, convenience stores, etc. However, the networks are often very slow.
In minshuku and temple accommodation, there is in most cases no access to WiFi and no other way to use the Internet.
Free WiFi services, partial use only possible after registration:

The locations where WiFi access is available can be found on the websites listed.

Prepaid or Rental SIM Cards

You can buy prepaid or rental SIM cards directly at airports and at major electronics stores in Tokyo, Osaka and other major Japanese cities.

Alternatively, you can also rent a mobile router.

Very detailed information about using the Internet and telephone in Japan can be found at:
Tessas Japan-Reise-Blog

Shikoku’s Tourist Destinations

Very famous tourist destinations on the island of Shikoku are:

  • Dōgo-Onsen, one of the three oldest thermal baths in Japan and the most popular. The bath in the Yushinden, a building within the spa is reserved exclusively for the imperial family. An emperor last visited the spa in the 70-ies.
  • The castles in Matsuyama, Kōchi and Uwajima.
  • The landscape garden Ritsurin Park, the landmark of Takamatsu, already created in the 17th century.

However, Shikoku is best known as the birthplace of Kūkai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan, and for the pilgrimage to the 88 temples.

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