Walking on Shikoku Island, Gokurakuji temple

Adventure of the Week, Macs Adventure

Adventure of the Week: Shikoku, Kyoto, and Osaka

11 Oct , 2017  

Travel should offer new experiences, a tangible taste of a different culture, and a chance to realign your understanding of the world around you. This walking trip does all of this and more in one truly unforgettable week.

Shikoku trail pilgrims

Pilgrims in the traditional white garments of the trail.

In a nutshell

Walk the highlights of the Shikoku pilgrimage trail, with time to explore Kyoto, a city bursting with cultural intrigue, and a night in Osaka, a city famed for its food and sure to round off the Japanese experience in fine form.

Distance: Up to 64km over 5 walking days, there are some alternative walks to make things easier. The full itinerary including Kyoto & Osaka is over 8 nights.

Grade: Graded moderate, bear in mind there are some ascents and descents on this route.

Where

The 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail, at the heart of this adventure, encircles Shikoku Island which is the smallest of Japan’s major islands. Shikoku island is one of the most unspoiled regions of Japan. Its traditional & spiritual buildings, inspiring natural landscapes, and ancient customs are well preserved and waiting to be experienced.

Kyoto skyline

Begin with a visit to Kyoto

Begin in Kyoto, with time to explore the splendid religious architecture and serene gardens, before travel to Tokushima where you will begin your walk on Shikoku. The entire Shikoku trail would take around 1 month to complete, this itinerary lets you visit the highlights of the trail in 5 walking days to see some of the most fascinating temples and shrines. A final stopover in Osaka is a great opportunity to experience the legendary street food.

Why Walk Here?

For an authentic Japanese experience, this is the ultimate trip. On the Shikoku pilgrim’s trail, stay in traditional Ryokan & Minshuku guesthouses, and even a Shukubo temple lodging. Read more about Laura’s experience of Japanese lodgings to understand why the experience is at the heart of embracing the culture, and a huge part of what makes a hiking tour in Japan so special.

Shukubo traditional Japanese lodgings

Enjoy traditional hospitality at rural lodgings.

Don’t expect English language signs, or familiar surroundings, but none of that will matter. A philosophy embedded in the local culture is kindness to strangers, so expect to be welcomed with sincere hospitality, and enjoy a kindred sense of adventure and appreciation of all the trail brings. People are incredibly friendly on Shikoku. Any uncertainty about what train to catch or which way to go will undoubtedly be solved with the assistance of a kind passer by, and a warm smile.

If you’re not already absorbed by the culture, then the food will complete that transition! Expect delightful banquet style meals served with beautiful perfection. Our tip is to try everything. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it – you could be surprised!

Shikoku evening meal

Nicola and partner Scott enjoy a feast at their Shikoku lodging

Accommodations in the cities may be a more familiar western style, but the experience of the cities is a world apart from any western experience, and Kyoto and Osaka are two must visit (and very different) urban Japanese experiences.

Planning & preparation

Macs Adventure’s 8 night Shikoku Trail itinerary includes 4 nights in traditional Ryokan or Minshuku style accommodation, 3 nights in hotels, and 1 night in a working temple lodging. All breakfasts are included, and 5 dinners. We will supply tickets for the rail travel to and from Shikoku, plus the necessary tickets for travel on Shikoku, and private transfers where necessary. A comprehensive information pack and itinerary means that you can follow the trails and transfers with ease, and telephone support is always available.

Nicola on the Shikoku Trail

Nicola taking in the views on the Shikoku Trail

We suggest travelling between April & November for the best experience. Do note that certain times can be very busy, particularly spring (for the blossom) and Autumn (for the colours changing) so we recommend early booking.

Contact [email protected] to chat to our team about availability, and we can also suggest some other add on itineraries to enhance the Japanese experience, for example visiting Nara & Mount Koya. Open your mind to new experiences and spiritual awakenings, and prepare to make memories.

 

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I have been a member of the Macs Adventure team since March 2013, and since joining my travel wish-list has developed ten-fold! Glasgow is my home, and a wonderful city to live in, however I love nothing more than enjoying the access to the Scottish countryside on my doorstep.