Japan

Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

Trip code: W10SH

Self-guided walking

10 nights,
hotel-to-hotel

Level: 3
Stretching

20.0Kg CO2e

SUMMARY

  • Walk the most beautiful parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail in Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime
  • Climb the iconic ladder to the meditation spot used by Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism
  • Experience an authentic pilgrimage journey, staying in traditional Minshuku, Ryokan, and Shukubo temple lodging, with authentic Shojin-Ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine

WHAT'S INCLUDED?

  • 10 nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts & 6 dinners
  • Comprehensive route directions
  • Bus tickets from Kyoto to start of trail and from end of trail to Osaka
  • Pre booked and pre-paid taxis on days 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10

TRIP DESCRIPTION

Shikoku is Japan's fourth-largest island, home to some of the country's most spectacular and undeveloped scenery. The island is also home to the ancient walking trail, Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The trail connects 88 Buddhist temples with the entire walk covering more than a thousand kilometres.

This spiritual journey follows in the footsteps of Kobo Daishi, also known as Kukai, who reached enlightenment in the isolated mountains and decided to devote his life to the Buddha. Following intense study of Buddhism and the creation of the temple complex on Mount Koya, he never forgot his home island of Shikoku and undertook a journey to visit all its 88 temples. Even today pilgrims from all over the world follow in his footsteps and visit the temples dressed in traditional garb, receiving blessings in the form of food and drinks from the locals.

We have selected the best walks and the best accommodations, including Shukubo pilgrims lodgings and fine inns in appealing cities such as Tokushima and Dogo Onsen near Matsuyama, which offer convenient transport to the trails.

Explore the fascinating city of Kyoto before beginning your Kumano Kodo journey and end with two nights in Osaka. Famous for its beautifully built Buddhist temples and traditional teahouses, Kyoto is a great introduction to your Japanese adventure. From here, you can visit the historical city of Nara, full of cultural treasures and tranquil gardens.

Osaka is known as the food capital of western Japan, inheriting its name in part from the fantastic Dotonbori area in the south of the city. Countless restaurants line the Dotonbori-gawa River offering dinner with views. The city is also home to Osaka-jo - a symbolic castle, re-built to its grand size after repeated fires.

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DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

 

Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto

Take the express train from Osaka Kansai Int. Airport to Kyoto City (approx. 70mins), then a local taxi to your first hotel. (approx. 10mins).

You stay at Hotels, Shukubo, Ryokans & Minshuku Guesthouses.

hotel details

 equivalent

Hotels, Shukubo, Ryokans & Minshuku Guesthouses,


Hotels: Modern western-style hotels are used. The rooms are generally smaller than equivalent hotels in the West. All have en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, TV, and fridges in rooms.

Shukubo: These are lodgings in Buddhist temples originally meant for pilgrims, but now open to anyone. The rooms are similar to Ryokan or Minshuku, though with fewer facilities. The food is excellent vegetarian Buddhist ‘Shojin-Ryori’ cuisine. It is a wonderful experience to stay in a Shukubo and there is often the opportunity to join the early morning religious service.

Ryokan: Ryokan are traditional Japanese-style inns. They may be in modern concrete or older wooden buildings, but the rooms are always in the Japanese style with tatami (straw) matting and futons laid out in the evening by the ryokan staff. Evening meals* are served together usually in the dining room and are exquisitely prepared multicourse meals. Many ryokans have both en-suite bathrooms (except for some older buildings) and communal hot spring style baths. They are the classic Japanese experience.

Minshuku: Minshuku are usually family-run traditional Japanese-style inns. They have tatami-mat rooms, with futons laid out in the evening for sleeping. Most minshuku do not have en-suite bathrooms as they are in older traditional wooden buildings. Compared with a ryokan, they are usually (but not always) slightly less formal, but the service and food* are just as good.

At these the inns and Shukubo, futon bedding on tatami mat is provided; toilet and bathing facilities may be shared.

*Most meals will be Japanese cuisine. Vegetarian options are available but limited. Strict vegetarian diets, vegan diets, or gluten free diets will be difficult to accommodate due to the pervasiveness of the fish-based stock dashi and the use of soy sauce and miso in Japanese cuisine. Tips are not required when dining in Japan.

Day 2: Explore Kyoto

Enjoy a rest day in the incredible city of Kyoto, famous for its Buddhist temples, tranquil gardens, and traditional teahouses. We recommend visiting the historical city of Nara, full of cultural treasures and expansive parks, located approx. 1hr from Kyoto city on the train.

Day 3: Tokushima: Temples 1 - 3 (6km/3.7mi)

Travel by long distance bus to Tokushima Prefecture (included) where you'll 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 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 traditional Ryokan for this first night.

Day 4: Tokushima: Temples 11 - 12 (24km/14.9mi)

Travel south by pre-booked and pre-paid taxi to Temple 11 Fujii-dera, a fascinating hillside temple complex. After time to explore Fujii-dera, your taxi will bring you to Ryusuian Temple, part-way up the mountain en-route to Shosan-ji. From there you walk up the rest of the mountain to Temple 12 Shosan-ji, then finally descend to the east. The walk is fairly strenuous, but very 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.

Day 5: Tokushima: Temples 20 - 21 (8km/5.0mi)

Travel by pre-paid taxi to one of the most beautiful and varied hikes on the entire 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; this is the longest ropeway in Japan with a total length of 2,775m! Travel by bus to your accommodation for the evening.

Day 6: Kagawa: Temples 82 - 80 (14km/8.7mi)

Leaving Tokushima, you'll take the train, bus and a pre-booked and prepaid 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.

Day 7: Ehime: Temples 57 to 58 (5km/3.1mi)

Leaving Kagawa, travel by train and bus to Betsumyo 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. Visit Eifuku-ji and Senyū-ji and there is also an optional detour to Temple 56 Taisan-ji. Overnight at Senyū-ji in the Shukubo pilgrims' lodgings at the temple, or alternatively stay in a western-style hotel in Imabari City.

Day 8: Ehime: Temples 59 onwards (5km/3.1mi)

Your walk continues with a gentle walk down the mountain from Senyū-ji, 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. Take the train from the end of your walk in Iyo-Tomita to Matsuyama, followed by a tram to Dogo Onsen.

Day 9: Ehime: Temples 45 to 44 (12km/7.5mi)

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

Day 10: Ehime: Temples 60 to 62 (14km/8.7mi)

Your pilgrimage ends with a rewarding hike in the east of Ehime Prefecture. Travel by tram and bus to Ooto, then take a pre-paid taxi to reach the starting point. 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 walk, travel onwards by train to Osaka, arriving mid-evening for your final evening.

Day 11: Depart Osaka

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before taking the train back to Osaka Kansai Int. Airport (approx. 35mins).

CHOOSE A DEPARTURE DATE

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These tour only prices are based on two people sharing. Single supplement from £705.

These flight inclusive prices are based on two people sharing. Single supplement from £705.

OPTIONAL UPGRADES
  • Flights from London Heathrow to Osaka with Emirates
  • Other flights, including regional departures
  • Alternative flights, including regional departures
  • Business/club/first class fares
  • Add luggage transfer between accommodations - arranged and paid locally
TRAVEL DETAILS

Our aim is to provide holidays that are unbeatable for choice and flexibility. We've listed our most popular travel options below, however you aren't limited to these - we can tailor-make virtually any holiday to suit.

Air prices include our standard flights
Out: Emirates London Heathrow to Osaka Kansai International via Dubai, train Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto, then taxi to your first hotel, approx. 10minutes - both paid locally.

Return: Train from Osaka Namba Nankai station to Osaka Kansai Airport, approx. 35minutes - payable locally, then Emirates Osaka Kansai International to London Heathrow, via Dubai.

Business/club/first class seats are available on request.

Alternative Air Travel
Alternative flights, onward rail to your holiday area, and connecting private transfers can be arranged from most UK airports. If you would like to use one of the many 'low cost' airlines, we can book these on your behalf. We can also book UK shuttles to connect with your onward flight, please call for details and prices.

Alternative transfers
If you require alternative transfers (because you will be arriving at a different time to our standard flights), then we can usually arrange these for you (there may be an additional charge).

To find out more about the travel options available call our sales team on 01606 720199, use our live webchat (we're open until 10pm today) or email sales@headwater.com

Should you require overnight airport accommodation, airport parking or even a uniformed chauffeur to take your car from your departure terminal and park it for you, we can arrange this for you through Holiday Extras. You can book airport parking, airport hotels and executive lounges through their website or contact us for further details. Early booking is recommended to obtain the best availability and prices.

REVIEWS

Phone answered quickly
Listened to our requirements and arranged a holiday to suit.
Very good communication.

18 Jul 2024

Very efficient and responsive

Lesley Calrow, 25 Jun 2024

Helen has been very helpful throughout our decision to book a holiday with Headwater. I have thrown many questions at her, but nothing fazes her, and she has been more than helpful.

21 Sep 2023

Megan was really helpful, patient, knowledgeable and friendly. The holiday we are looking at (cycling in Puglia) looks very exciting and we are now keeping everything crossed that the hotel bookings work out. Fingers and toes crossed!

Elizabeth Douglas, 1 Aug 2023


Self-guided walking

10 nights,
hotel-to-hotel

Level: 3
Stretching

20.0Kg CO2e

10 nights from £3649

CHOOSE A DEPARTURE

Call: 01606 720199

 

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