Where to stay on the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail?

Shikoku offers a variety of different accommodations for pilgrims.
In mishuku, ryokan and shukubo (temple accommodation) – traditional Japanese.
Free of charge in accommodations offered privately or at the temple. In huts set up by Shikoku residents for pilgrims to rest.
In guesthouses, hotels, and business hotels, as found in many other countries.

Table of contents

Minshuku 民宿 and Ryokan 旅館

A minshuku is a family-run, traditional Japanese guesthouse that offers overnight accommodations with dinner and Japanese breakfast.

A ryokan also offers accommodation with dinner and Japanese breakfast. Often with more service and comfort than in a minshuku and accordingly at a higher price. In offer and price at ryokans very large differences are possible. Therefore, ask the price before booking.

Many ryokans, as offered for pilgrims on Shikoku, differ only slightly from the minshukus on Shikoku.

In 2018/2019, I usually paid 6,500 yen for an overnight stay in a minshuku, including dinner and breakfast. In the ryokans where I stayed during the pilgrimage, I paid about 800 yen more than in the minshukus, also including dinner and breakfast.
The prices are per person, not per room.
In most cases you can only pay with cash. Credit cards are not accepted.

In Minshuku and Ryokan there is the possibility to prepare tea after arrival. Kettle, teapot and tea cups can be found in the room. Overnight is spent with futon on tatami mats. Yukatta (Japanese pyjamas) and towel are provided. The bathroom is used by all guests in turn. Washing machine and dryer can be used for a small fee.
Many minshuku/ryokan on Shikoku do not have Wi-Fi.

For dinner and usually breakfast, there is rice, vegetables, usually fish, often in several preparations, and green tea.
The pension owners usually get the food for the guests in the morning. Therefore, reservations are required no later than early morning.

Arrival at the minshuku and ryokan should be around 5:00 pm. Dinner (about 06:00 pm) and breakfast (about 06:30 am) are served at the same time for all overnight guests.

Shukubō 宿坊 – Overnight stay in temple

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.

Henro House

Henro House is an association of accommodations that offer overnight stays for pilgrims on Shikoku. The accommodations are spread all over the island. Often directly on the pilgrimage route or at least in the vicinity. In order to book accommodation through the Henro House website, a free registration on the organization’s website is required: henrohouse.jp/en
After registration, overnight stays can be booked easily, online or by phone (in English), up to 30 days in advance.
Information on location and special features of accommodation, availability of overnight places, costs (mostly between 3,000 and 4,000 yen) can be found on the Henro House website. Meals are not included. However, dinner/breakfast can be booked as an option in some houses. The additional costs for these meals are indicated on the website in each case.

Very different accommodations have joined together under Henro House.
Once I stayed in a private house. There a married couple offers a room, which is empty after the departure of the adult children, at Henro House for overnight stay for one to a maximum of 2 pilgrims.
Occasionally, business hotels also offer some of their rooms on the Henro House site for cheap accommodation for pilgrims.
Often, however, henro houses offer overnight accommodation in dormitories, with several fellow pilgrims together.
Washing machine and dryer are usually available and can be used for a small fee. Wi-Fi is usually available and free of charge.

I highly recommend staying at Henro House. The owners are very hospitable, warm and helpful.
I have always felt very well taken care of when staying in Henro houses.
Only once have I stayed in a Henro House that I would not book again.

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 normally cheaper than hotels.
Flexible arrival times.

Tsuyadō and Zenkonyado

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.

Other accommodation options

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

Accommodation costs

AccommodationTypical costsMeals incl.
Minshuku6,500 YENDinner + Breakfast
Ryokan8,000 YENDinner + Breakfast
Shukubō8,000 YENDinner + Breakfast
Business-Hotel7,000 YENnone
Hotel9,000 YENnone
Guest House3,500 YENnone
Henro House3,500 YENnone
Tsuyadō1,000 YENnone
Zenkonyado1,000 YENnone

At Tsuyadō and Zenkonyado, accommodation is generally free. However, you are already expected to leave 1,000 yen in the donation box at Tsuyadō before you leave. And after an overnight stay at Zenkonyado, you should leave 2,000 yen if you used a futon, or 1,000 yen if you don’t use a futon.

Recommendation

Overnight stays in minshuku, ryokan, shukubo, henro house and hotels are better reserved in advance. For overnight stays on weekends, reserve one to two days in advance. For overnight stays during the week, it is sufficient to make a reservation one day in advance or even in the morning on the day of the overnight stay.
In principle, overnight stays can also be booked with much more advance notice. Especially for foot pilgrims it is better to keep the overnight stay flexible and not to plan too far in advance. The route can thus be adapted to the respective “daily form” and a determination of how many kilometers are to be completed daily in order to reach accommodations booked far in advance is not necessary.

If a booked accommodation cannot be reached as on the planned day or only much later than 17:00, be sure to call there as early as possible and let them know.

On holiday weekends and especially in the Golden Week at the beginning of May are very many Japanese on the road. Overnight stays during these times should therefore be booked with much more advance notice.

Very helpful for planning and booking accommodation by phone is the Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide. This guide lists a variety of places to stay, each with a phone number. Location and distance to the pilgrimage route can also be found there.

Many of the pilgrim accommodations on Shikoku can only be reserved by telephone. Booking via the Internet is usually not possible.
Internet bookings are possible at many hotels and business hotels and possible and desired at all Henro houses (Henro House).

Hotels, especially in the larger cities can often be booked online through the well-known international booking portals.

The owners of minshuku and ryokan sometimes speak little English, so telephone reservations can only be made in Japanese. In most cases, a fellow pilgrim who speaks Japanese will be found who can and will assist in booking an overnight stay by phone. Another possibility is to ask the owners of the accommodation where you are staying to reserve the overnight stay in the next accommodation by phone.

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