Where to stay on the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail?

Shikoku offers many different accommodation options for pilgrims.
Traditional Japanese accommodations; such as minshuku, ryokan and shukubō.
Guesthouses, hotels and business hotels, as found in many other countries.
These options are introduced in this article.

Henro House

Henro House is an association of accommodations that offer overnight stays for walking pilgrims on Shikoku. Henro Houses are located in all four provinces of Shikoku, directly on the pilgrimage trail or at least nearby. Overnight accommodations are booked online through the Henro House website. Before the first booking, a free registration on the organization’s website is required: henrohouse.jp/en
After registration, overnight stays can be booked online or by phone (in English or Japanese), up to 30 days in advance.
Information on location and special features of the accommodation, availability of overnight accommodations, cost (between 3,000 and 4,000 yen) can be found on the Henro House website. Meals are not included. In some houses, dinner/breakfast can be booked as an option. The additional cost for these meals is indicated on the website in each case.

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 offer some of their rooms on the Henro House site for cheap accommodation for pilgrims.
Typically Henro Houses offer overnight accommodation in dormitories, with several other pilgrims together.
Use of washing machine and dryer for a small fee. WLAN is mostly available and free of charge.

I highly recommend staying at a Henro House. The owners are often especially hospitable, warm and helpful.
During my overnight stays in Henro houses, I felt very well taken care of.
I’ve only stayed once in a Henro House that I wouldn’t book again.

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. There are big differences in the offer and price of ryokans. Therefore, ask the price before booking.

Many ryokans as offered for pilgrims on Shikoku differ little from minshukus on Shikoku.

In 2018/2019, I usually paid 6,500 yen for an overnight stay in a minshuku, including dinner and breakfast. At the ryokans I stayed at during the pilgrimage, I paid 800 yen more, also including dinner and breakfast.
Prices are per person in each case, not per room.
Payment with cash. Credit cards are not accepted.

In minshuku and ryokan, there is the possibility to make your own tea after arrival. Kettle, teapot and tea cups are provided in the room. Overnight is spent with futon on tatami mats. Yukatta (Japanese pajamas) and towel are provided. The bathroom is used by all guests in turn. Use of washing machine and dryer for a small fee.
Some minshukus/ryokans do not have Wi-Fi.

For dinner and often for breakfast there is rice, vegetables, fish, in several preparations and green tea.
The boarding house owners 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 6:00 pm) and breakfast (about 6:30 am) are available 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 arriving 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.

Hotel/Business-Hotel ホテル

Western equipped, with bed. Bathroom in the room. No meals are offered. Japanese breakfast is bookable, sometimes supplemented with American breakfast. Business hotels are usually cheaper than hotels.
Flexible arrival times.

Other accommodation options

Tsuyadō 通夜堂 and Zenkonyado 善根宿

  • Tsuyadō
    Overnight accommodation in the temple for pilgrims who walk the path. A place to sleep, with other pilgrims. No meals, no bath. In Tsuyadō and Zenkonyado, overnight accommodation is traditionally free, or on a voluntary donation basis. If needed, ask at the temple if there is a possibility to stay overnight at the Tsuyadō. After an overnight stay at the Tsuyadō, you should leave 1,000 yen in the donation box before you leave.
  • Zenkonyado
    Private accommodation. Facilities as in the Tsuyadō. After staying overnight in a Zenkonyado, you should also leave 1,000 yen in the donation box, or a little more if you used a futon.

The number of places to stay in Tsuyadō and Zenkonyado is small. In emergencies, if you can’t find any other accommodation, ask at the temple or for Zenkonyado at private people if an overnight stay is possible there. If you have the financial means, it makes more sense to stay overnight in one of the many other accommodations, some of which are very inexpensive and require a fee. It is better not to plan ahead for your pilgrimage with free overnight stays in Tsuyadō or Zenkonyado.

Sleep outdoors

In many older books, there are reports of overnight stays in henro huts and parks, at rest stops (michi no eki), train stations, and so on. Because of the recent increase in the number of pilgrims using these overnight facilities, the locals now view this quite critically.

Camping

Campsites located near the pilgrimage route are listed in the “Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide”. Wild camping is prohibited by law.

Accommodation costs

AccommodationTypical costsMeals incl.
Minshuku6,500 YENDinner + Breakfast
Ryokan7,500 YENDinner + Breakfast
Shukubō7,500 YENDinner + Breakfast
Business-Hotel7,000 YENnone
Hotel9,000 YENnone
Guest House3,500 YENnone
Henro House3,500 YENnone

Reservation of accommodation on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

For pilgrims walking the pilgrimage route, it is advisable not to book overnight stays too far in advance. In order to be able to adapt the daily route at short notice to the “shape of the day”, physical condition and ability.
On the other hand, overnight accommodation is limited in many regions of Shikoku. And these places are in high demand at certain times.

For overnight stays during the week, it is usually sufficient to make a reservation the day before. Some pilgrims, mostly Japanese, only book in the morning on the day of the overnight stay.
For overnight stays at weekends, it is better to book at least two days in advance.
On holiday weekends and especially during the Golden Week at the end of April/beginning of May, many Japanese pilgrims and tourists are on the move. Overnight stays during these times need to be booked much more in advance.

Booking in advance is mandatory for overnight stays at Henro House. Reservations must be made by 1 p.m. on the day of arrival, and can be made no earlier than 30 days before the overnight stay. Online or by phone, in English or Japanese.

Overnight stays in minshuku, ryokan and shukubō must be reserved by telephone. Booking via the internet is rarely possible.
The owners of minshuku and ryokan sometimes speak little English, so telephone reservations can only be made in Japanese. Often a Japanese-speaking fellow pilgrim will be found who can and will help with booking an overnight stay by phone. Another option is to ask the owners of the accommodation you are staying in to book your overnight stay in the next accommodation by phone.

If a booked accommodation cannot be reached on the planned day or only much later than 5 p.m., be sure to call them and let them know.

Hotels, especially in the larger cities, can be reserved online via the well-known international booking portals.

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

WordPress Cookie Plugin by Real Cookie Banner