Walk Through 1200 Years of History
Kobo Daishi (Kukai), the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, enabled people to develop deep faith and gained their profound respect.
The Shikoku Pilgrimage visits temples associated with Kukai from his birth to his ascetic practices and enlightenment.
It is the most famous pilgrimage in Japan and it reveals the heart of Japan and the Japanese people.
Unlike Christian and Islamic pilgrimages, the pilgrimage does not simply go from a starting point to a holy place and back, but rather circles around the island of Shikoku, visiting temples along the way.
The total distance is 1,200 kilometers when all 88 temples in Shikoku’s four prefectures of Tokushima, Kochi, Ehime, and Kagawa are visited. Although no official course exists, the paths that have been walked by many pilgrims and maintained by locals for the past 1,200 years are called “pilgrimage paths,” known as “henro michi” in Japanese.
Today, many pilgrimage paths are paved and can be traveled by car or bike.
However, there are some paths that are only accessible on foot, such as the hiking trails to mountain temples, nature trails, and ancient paths that have been restored in recent years. In particular, the seven paths known as “henro korogashi,” meaning that they are so steep that pilgrims fall down, may be considered the best part of the walking pilgrimage.
The Shikoku Trail are carefully selected trails that are scenic, easy or challenging to walk, easily accessible, and also have attractive tourist spots nearby. You could call them the highlights of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Walking along beaches and through forests, villages and townscapes, you will see numerous Buddhist statues and markers. They will bring you closer to the heart of the pilgrims who have walked the course for 1,200 years.
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