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Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

9 Days & 8 Nights 4.5 Read 2 reviews
  • The highlights of Japan’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage route
  • Beautiful trails and scenery of the island of Shikoku
  • Stay in traditional Ryokan guesthouses and a Shukubo temple
  • Fresh and beautifully presented Japanese cuisine
  • The city of Kyoto, the former imperial capital and a UNESCO heritage site
Walk the highlights of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trail on the island of Shikoku. Starting in Kyoto and ending in Osaka, this tour brings together the best of Japan; city life and peaceful rural walking. Follow trails to ancient Buddhist temples and become an ‘Ohenro-San’- the name given to Shikoku pilgrims. Soak up the experience at the traditional Ryokan guesthouses with their natural spring baths and sincere hospitality. One night is spent staying in a Shukubu; lodging attached to the temples, where it is possible to join in morning prayers.

What To Expect

Perfect for those wanting to experience the quiet and contemplation of a pilgrimage route through the Japanese countryside. There are some significant ascents meaning this tour is best suited to those with a good level of fitness. Stays in rural guesthouses and time in the cities of Kyoto and Osaka complete the experience.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Spiritual Journeys, Luxury & Unique Stays

Grade & Terrain

This tour is graded moderate with walks as long as 14km (with some longer options on most days) with some strenuous ascents and descents. You should be a regular walker in good shape to get the most from the trip. Terrain is varied with a mix of paved paths, woodland trails, stone steps and trails alongside paddy fields.

Navigation

The route is partly waymarked (in English and Japanese) and we provide detailed route notes and topographic maps so you should have no problem following the trail.

Accommodation Information

On this tour, you will stay in a mixture of Ryokan, Minshuku, Shukubo temples and western-style 3-star hotels. Ryokan and Minshuku are traditional family-run Japanese style inns with an emphasis on personalised service and homemade food. They tend to be furnished with ‘tatami’ (straw mat) floors and you will sleep on a futon (which are surprisingly comfortable!)

Shukubo are pilgrim’s lodgings attached to the temples. They are similar to Ryokan and Minshuku but are a bit simpler and bathroom facilities are shared. There are several shared toilets and washbasins, and two rooms for communal bathing in natural thermal water, segregated by gender. The food is prepared in a similar style to Buddhist Shojin cuisine, but do include some meat and fish.  It is a wonderful experience to stay in a shukubo and there is also the opportunity to join the early morning religious service.

In large cities like Kyoto, Tokushima, and Osaka, we use western-style hotels of a 3* standard. Please see below for an example of the accommodation we use.

Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.

Meals

Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on the Shikoku trail. Your trip includes all breakfasts and 5 evening meals whilst on the trail, Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast in western-style hotels usually includes more familiar choices. Dinner and breakfast in ryokan and minshuku are set meals, usually with a whole succession of different dishes which will delight you. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan. 

Included
  • 4 nights accommodation in Ryokan
  • 3 nights in 3* standard hotels
  • 1 night in a Shukubu pilgrim's lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • Bus/train tickets to and from Shikoku
  • Tickets for journeys on the trail
  • Private transfers on days 4 & 7
  • Local travel information, route notes, topographical maps and hints and tips
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative.
Excluded
  • International flights and travel to Kyoto/from Osaka
  • Drinks with meals
  • Lunches
  • Evening meals in Kyoto & Osaka
  • Local buses on Shikoku (paid locally)
  • Baggage forwarding
  • Travel insurance
Extras
  • Additional nights on the trail or in Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka (prices on request for Kyoto and Osaka)
  • Daily Luggage Transfers (Takijiri to Nachi-San)

When To Go

This trip is available from early April until the end of October.

Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December - 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (13-15 August)

Time of Year

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the autumn colours in October is also lovely. It can get quite hot and humid in July and August. Overall, the best months to travel are either April-June or September-October.

Getting to the Start

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations. You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto (3h30).

The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. For timetable information please visit http://www.westjr.co.jp/global.en/travel-information/timetable. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.

Getting from the End

The best airport to depart from is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights to international destinations. You can also take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto (3h30) to Tokyo and fly out of Tokyo Narita (NRT).

The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. For timetable information please visit http://www.westjr.co.jp/global.en/travel-information/timetable. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.

Baggage Transfer

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard. The easiest option here is to arrange luggage transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs approx £12 per day. With this service, your bags will not be moved each day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple of nights later. Our information pack has full details on how to use this service, which is really easy.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. 

Getting around

Your package includes train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka. The public transport system in Japan is world-class and your pre-departure information pack has detailed information on tickets, trains and how to use public transport easily.

Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.

Visas

Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.

British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes, etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit www.fco.gov.uk for up to date information.

Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack. lease be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes, and lightweight clothing for summer.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Kyoto Day 2 Free day in Kyoto Day 3 Travel to Shikoku and walk to Temples 1 & 3 3.8 miles / 6 km Day 4 Walk Temples 11 to 12 10 miles / 13 km Day 5 Walk Temples 13 to 17 9 miles / 20 km Day 6 Walk Temples 20 to 21 6.9 miles / 11 km Day 7 Walk Temples 82 to 80 8.7 miles / 14 km Day 8 Travel to Osaka Day 9 Onward Travel

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