Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage self-guided 10 days

Walk on the loveliest parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail in Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime, spending nights in Shukubo temple lodgings and the natural baths of Dogo Onsen and Iya Valley

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage self-guided 10 days

Number of travellers

Start date

April 2024
Su
Mo
Tu
We
Th
Fr
Sa
31
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
1
2
3
4

Tour details

Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage self-guided 10 days
x1 traveller
USD 0
Single room additional charge
USD 1,025
TOTAL
USD 0

If you would like to do multiple tours in one trip or have a question about any of our tours, do not hesitate to contact us with the button below.

  • Duration: 10 days
  • Trip level:
    Intermediate
    Level
  • Availability: Recommended from March to November
  • Type:Self-guided
    Level
  • Price: USD 2,975(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
Highlights
  • Walk on the loveliest parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail in Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime
  • Visit some of the most atmospheric temples on the trail
  • Spend two nights in a Shukubo temple lodging, with authentic Shojin-Ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine
  • Climb the iconic ladder to the meditation spot used by Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism
  • Bathe in natural thermal Onsen waters on up to six nights including historic Dogo Onsen and Iya Valley
  • Experience an authentic pilgrimage journey with moderate hikes of up to 5-6 hours

Shikoku is Japan's fourth-largest island, home to some of the country's most spectacular and undeveloped scenery. The island is also the setting for an ancient walking trail, the challenging Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The trail connects 88 Buddhist temples and the full walk covers more than a thousand kilometres. Pilgrims, known as O-henro, traditionally covered the journey on foot over many weeks, staying overnight at Shukubo temple lodgings. Most modern travellers now travel from temple to temple by tour bus, but we have found sections of the original route which can still be enjoyed on foot.

On your Day 5, you may wish to try your hand at Sanuki Udon noodle-making. Please ask for information about tour extensions to the mountain-top temple town of Mount Koya with its monastery lodgings, the art island of Naoshima or the UNESCO World Heritage of Miyajima Island, and Tomonoura Bay on the Setouchi inland sea.

This tour offers more advanced hiking. 

Read about luggage options here.

Download PDF itinerary

IMG_9953.jpgIya Valley - Shikoku (1).jpg528A4618 (1).jpgIMG_9630.jpg
What is included
9 nights at Japanese inns on Shikoku Island
9 breakfasts and 8 dinners
Round-trip tranportation from Kyoto or Osaka and 5 pre-paid taxis
Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking directions and Shikoku Island guidebook
Topographical maps
Local support by telephone
Our Preparing for your trip and Travelling in Japan Guidebooks
What is not included
Flights
Airport transfers
Drinks and meals not included in itinerary
Local bus journeys which must be paid directly to the bus driver and the cable car journey on Day 3
Single room supplement(s) for solo occupancy
Daily luggage transfer

 

Itinerary
Map

 

Start from Kyoto or Osaka and travel by long-distance bus to Tokushima Prefecture. Begin your pilgrimage with a gentle introduction to the walks on Shikoku through quiet neighbourhoods of Tokushima. Visit three of the most eye-catching temples on the whole trail – Temple 1, Ryozen-ji; Temple 2, Gokuraku-ji; and Temple 3, Konsen-ji. Spend your first night as all pilgrims should – with a stay in a shukubo temple lodging. There is also the option of staying at a city-centre ryokan for this first night.

 

Walking distance: 5.8 km / 3.6 mi
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and descent
Time required: About 2 hours

 

An optional additional walk along paved roads to Temple 7, Juraku-ji, can extend the day by 3 km / 1.9 mi and around 45 minutes.

 

Accommodation: Shukubo (temple lodging) or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Dinner

 

Travel south from your temple lodging by pre-booked and pre-paid taxi to Temple 11, Fujii-dera, which is located at the bottom of a fascinating hillside temple complex. From Fujii-dera Temple, undertake a challenging hike to Temple 12, Shosan-ji. Although the full walk is one of the longest and most strenuous on the tour, it is rewarding with beautiful scenery. Walk onwards to Yorii and board a bus to the small onsen village of Kamiyama and your inn for the evening.

 

Walking distance: 19.2 km / 11.9 mi
Elevation gain: 1,330 m / 4,365 ft of ascent and 1,210 m / 3,970 ft of descent
Time required: About 7-8 hours

 

You can reduce the walk to 5-6 hours (14.1 km / 8.8 mi) and avoid the first half of the strenuous ascent up Mount Shosan-ji. Simply pay locally to extend the taxi ride on the day – no need to decide in advance.


Accommodation: Onsen ryokan (hot spring inn) or Western-style hotel
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

 

Travel by pre-paid taxi to one of the most beautiful and varied hikes on the entire 88 Pilgrimage route. From Temple 20, Kakurin-ji, the trail descends to the hamlet of Anan, crosses the Nakagawa River, and climbs again to Temple 21, Tairyu-ji. End the day with a cable car ride with wonderful views over a cedar forest and the small town below. Travel by bus to your accommodation for the evening.

 

Walking distance: 8.2 km / 5.1 mi
Elevation gain: 460 m / 1,510 ft ascent and 470 m / 1,540 ft descent
Time required: About 3-4 hours

 

The walk can be extended to about 5 hours for travellers staying in Tokushima city. Please enquire if you would like to undertake this longer option.

 

Accommodation: Western-style hotel
Meals: Breakfast

 

Leaving Tokushima, travel by bus and a pre-paid taxi to a rewarding hike in northern Kagawa Prefecture. Walk through lovely scenery and visit a fine collection of temples: Temple 82, Negoro-ji; Temple 81, Shiromine-ji; and finally Temple 80, Kokubun-ji. Travel onwards by train for an overnight stay in the old hot spring town of Kotohira Spa.


Walking distance: 13.5 km / 8.4 mi
Elevation gain: 335 m / 1,100 ft ascent and 655 m / 2,150 ft descent
Time required: About 5 hours

 

 

The walk can be shortened by 1.5 hours (5.4 km / 3.4 mi) by omitting the round-trip section to Temple 81, Shiromine-ji.

 

Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

 

You have a full day to explore Kotohira Spa. Visit the Shinto shrine Konpira-dai-gongen, located halfway up Mount Zōzu at an elevation of 521 metres. Try the famous local delicacy, delicious, hand-made, thick udon noodles. You may also wish to visit the Konpira Grand Theatre, Kanamaruza Kabuki Hall, the oldest original kabuki theatre in Japan, and Temple 75, Zentsūji, birthplace of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Overnight in Kotohira Spa.

 

Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn)
Meals: Breakfast

 

Travel to and explore rural Iya Valley deep in the mountains of Tokushima. Head onwards from Kotohira Spa by train and bus to reach Iya. En route to your inn, it is possible to visit the iconic kazurabashi suspension bridge made of mountain vines, said in some folktales to have been placed by Shingon Buddhist founder Kobo Daishi. Spend the evening at one of the wonderful hot spring inns nearby.

 

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (hot spring inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

 

Leaving Kagawa, travel by train to Imabari in northern Ehime and begin your hike to Temple 57, Eifuku-ji. The walk gradually passes from urban townscape to rural farming communities before entering a forest with a steady climb to Temple 58, Senyū-ji. There is also an optional detour to Temple 56, Taisan-ji. Overnight at Senyū-ji Temple in the shukubo lodging at the temple, or alternatively stay in a Western-style hotel in Imabari City.

 

Walking distance: 4.4 km / 2.7 mi
Elevation gain: 250 m / 820 ft ascent and negligible descent
Time required: About 1.5 hours
 

Accommodation: Shukubo (temple lodging) or Westernstyle hotel
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

 

The hike continues with a gentle walk down the mountain from Senyū-ji Temple, with the opportunity to explore small village settlements on the way. Return to the town of Imabari, with an optional paved town hike on to Temple 59, Iyo Kokubun-ji, and continue onwards to Matsuyama by train and overnight in Dogo Onsen. You will have time to visit the famous Dogo bathhouse and try the popular local produce, sweet mikan oranges. Explore the hillside grounds of Matsuyama Castle and Temple 51 on the Shikoku 88, Ishite-ji, which is close to your accommodation for this evening.

 

Walking distance: 4.4 km / 2.7 mi
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and 250 m / 820 ft descent
Time required: About 1 hour

 

An optional paved walk of 4.1 km (2.5 mi) can extend the hike by a further 1.5 hours.

Accommodation: Hot-spring Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Head south by bus and pre-paid taxi from Matsuyama to Temple 45, Iwaya-ji, a temple closely linked to Kōbō Daishi, the priest who founded Shingon Buddhism and temple settlement of Mount Koya. Climb the iconic ladder to his meditation spot, with its spectacular views over the surrounding region. From Iwaya-ji Temple, enjoy a lovely forest hike to Temple 44, Daiho-ji, before returning by bus to Matsuyama
in the evening. Overnight in Dogo Onsen.

 

Walking distance: 11.7 km / 7.3 mi
Elevation gain: 650 m / 2,130 ft ascent and 580 m / 1,900 ft descent
Time required: About 4 hours

 

Accommodation: Onsen ryokan (hot spring inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

 

The tour ends with a rewarding hike in the east of Ehime Prefecture. Travel by bus and pre paid taxi from Matsuyama to reach the trail and walk to Temple 60, Yokomine-ji; Temple 61, Kōon-ji; and onwards to Temple 62, Hoju-ji. The walk passes through a rural area of Shikoku and the temples are in lovely natural settings. After the hike, travel onwards by train to the Kansai area, arriving mid-evening.



Walking distance: 13.7 km / 8.5 mi
Elevation gain: 620 m / 2,050 ft ascent and 870 m / 3,850 ft descent
Time required: About 4-5 hours

 

You can reduce the hike by about one hour to 11.3 km / 7 mi, avoiding the first uphill section. Simply pay locally to extend the taxi ride to Temple 60, Yokomine-ji. Choose on the day – no need to decide in advance.

 
Meals: Breakfast

 

Shikoku

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get our latest news and offers delivered right to your inbox