Autumn in Shikoku, the fourth largest island in Japan and home to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, is the perfect time to hike this rewarding trail. This incredibly deep spiritual route has inspired pilgrims for centuries, with very little being known about its origin, the trail also has a mysterious connection with Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Even today, it is not a rare sight to see pilgrims around the island wearing their distinctive attire and white cloaks. The full pilgri... View More
Autumn in Shikoku, the fourth largest island in Japan
and home to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail, is the
perfect time to hike this rewarding trail. This incredibly
deep spiritual route has inspired pilgrims for centuries,
with very little being known about its origin, the trail
also has a mysterious connection with Kobo Daishi,
founder of Shingon Buddhism. Even today, it is not a
rare sight to see pilgrims around the island wearing
their distinctive attire and white cloaks. The full
pilgrimage route encompasses more than a thousand
kilometers around Shikoku and connects 88 Buddhist
temples. Pilgrims traditionally would trek the
pilgrimage trail on foot over several weeks going from
temple to temple. Join All Japan Tours as we take you
through Shikoku, exploring the stunning trails and
For this tour, we have selected the absolute best walking trails that pass through charming landscapes and explore the historic route. We will visit all four of Shikoku’s prefectures – Tokushima in the east, Kagawa in the north, Ehime in the west, and Kochi in the south. Each prefecture has its own special character, food, and scenery that we will be able to enjoy. In addition to exploring the pilgrimage trail, our journey will also take us to the isolated Iya Valley located deep in the heart of Shikoku. Our pilgrimage journey begins with a stay on Wakayama’s ‘Mount Koya’, the hilltop temple complex on Honshu established by Kobo Daishi, as well as an important location for enthusiasts of the pilgrimage route. With public transport being rather limited in the rural areas of Shikoku, we will travel primarily by private vehicle. However, we will still be able to enjoy traveling from temple to temple through countryside and forest along the ancient route. Our accommodations throughout the route will be traditional country inns while we enjoy the regional cuisine prepared from local ingredients from the wondrous island. We will also be able to rejuvenate and soak in natural hot springs, as well as enjoy the superb hospitality, known as ‘omotenashi’ in Japanese, of our lovely hosts.
For those looking to explore Japan's ancient culture, history, and religion while exploring the countryside, this tour is a wonderful choice. With autumn's cool weather and colorful leaves, this tour will be an incredible journey that you won't forget. You will explore hidden gems and enjoy the changing leaves as you hike the trails on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Route, as many pilgrims have done in the past and still do today.
Note: this is an intense rated hiking trip with some steady steep ascents and hikes over 4 hours.
Activity Level: Intense
Our Intense tours generally have dedicated days of trail walking, with some days of over four hours and with some ascent and/or descent.
Who is an Intense tour designed for?
- We recommend our Intense tours for anyone who does regular walking or hiking, and is comfortable walking a full day with some climbing and descending.
- If you do not exercise regularly, please practice walking for three to four hours, about three to six months prior to the tour in order to get the most out of your trip.
This itinerary contains overnight stays at Western Hotels, Ryokans, Minshukus, and Shukubo Temple Lodgings. Ryokans and Minshukus are traditional accommodations, with a more casual hospitality than you will find at a hotel. At both a Ryokan and a Minshuku, you will stay in a simply furnished room and sleep on a futon, which is laid on a tatami mat. A Shukubo is a lodging at a Buddhist temple, and, similar to a Ryokan, rooms are simply laid with futon bedding.
Some Ryokans may have private bathrooms attached to your room, but others only have public bathrooms used by all the guests. At a Minshuku and Shukubo, however, there are only public bathrooms – meaning either a smaller bathroom used one guest at a time, or larger bathrooms separated by gender (male & female), and designed to be used by multiple guests at once.