The Shikoku pilgrimage consists of eighty-eight temples and numerous other sacred sites located around the island of Shikoku. At 1150 km (750 miles) it remains one of the worlds great pilgrimages. Established by Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, in the early 9th century, Kobo Daishi (as he is known posthumously) continues to play a central role in the pilgrimage today. To learn, more about the history of the pilgrimage, click here.
Discover Shikoku provides customized pilgrim experiences tailored to our clients’ individual goals and needs. From an afternoon of temple highlights to extended walking experiences, anything can be arranged. Accommodations vary from simple temple retreats to luxurious ryokan and natural hotsprings, while meals include everything from local handmade noodles to sumptuous kaiseki courses.
Though not required in order to participate in the pilgrimage, we can provide a full fitting of traditional Ohenro clothing including hat(sugegasa), staff(kongo-ze), white clothing(hakui), stoll(wagesa), rosary(juzu), bag(zuda-bukuro), and stamp book (nogyo-cho).
Some interesting facts you may not know about our pilgrimage...
The standard walking course for the entire pilgrimage generally takes between 40 and 60 days.
The pilgrim's journey through these four provinces during the Shikoku Pilgrimage is likened to a symbolic pathto enlightenment, with temples 1–23 in Tokushima representing the idea of awakening, temples 24–39 ofKochi representing austerity and discipline, temples 40–65 of Ehime represents attaining enlightenment, andtemples 66–88 of Kagawa represents entering nirvana.
There are pilgrims who are called “substitute pilgrims” who do the trek for a fee on behalf of clients whocontacted them through the Internet.
The pilgrims, also known as henro, are treated with great reverence and hospitality in Shikoku, often givenosettai (money and food) and free lodging, by random people they meet along the way.
It is said that white is worn during the Shikoku pilgrimage because long ago some pilgrims would collapsefrom the physical exertion and die during the pilgrimage, and the white robes could serve as their burialclothes. The color white also carries the meaning that all pilgrims are equal in front of the Buddha.
A Shikoku pilgrim’s conical hat has dōgyō ninon (two traveling together) written on it. This basically means that even if you are travelling alone the spirit of Kobo Daishi, the founder ofShikoku Pilgrimage, is always with you, protecting you and guiding your way.
There is an anecdote stating that, during his pilgrimage in Shikoku, one night Kobo Daishi had to spend thenight under a bridge. For that reason, when coming to a bridge, Shikoku pilgrims are often reminded that'Kobo Daishi may be sleeping under this bridge', and walk carefully across without using their walking stick soas not to wake him.
The Shikoku pilgrimage is the only known pilgrimage going in a circular direction. And it doesn’t need to becompleted in numerical order. In fact, it is believed that going in reverse will bring you three times the divinefavor than going in standard order.