The charm of the Shikoku Pilgrimage

People who have traveled the Shikoku Pilgrimage speak of many encounters and discoveries they have made. Here are some actual comments from the people who have become ohenro-san (Shikoku pilgrims) ahead of you.
Why do not you come and have your own special memories?

  • Interactions
  • Spirituality
  • Nature
  • Culture and History
I had heard that the Shikoku Pilgrimage was a long trail in Japan. When I came here, I felt a sense of fascination that I had never experienced before in my travels, an experience that purified my spirit. It was not just a mountain climb; there were temples, shrines, and pilgrimage paths along the way. The local elderlies kindly showed me the way and offered me osettai. They served me tea and handed me fruit. I had never experienced anything like that in other places in Japan. The cookie with ice cream was a perfect osettai for me on a scorching day. I will never forget it for the rest of my life.
(30s USA Female)
I met three other ohenro-san at the first minshuku I stayed at. Over the next two days, we met again and again at the temples and greeted each other as if we had known each other for a long time. One day, I walked with another ohenro-san for half a day. It was great to hear about the temples I had not visited yet.
(50s Germany Female)
The people in Tokushima were very sweet. They took their time to draw me a map or give me a very good sightseeing plan, far better than I had thought. Then I had special and spiritual experiences such as visiting many temples, talking with the staff of the temples, collecting stamps in the nokyocho, offering incense sticks and candles, spending time in nature, and staying at an ohenro-san’s house. The Shikoku Pilgrimage changed my life.
(50s USA Female)
It was different from the moment I arrived in Kochi. People were cheerful and not in a rush. If I did not understand something, they would help me at a station or anywhere else. Even when I had just got off the bus they talked to me very kindly. As I walked on the pilgrimage path and wore pilgrim clothes, they treated me even nicer. Shikoku is safe and the people are kind, so I feel very happy here.
(40s Slovakia Male)
The local people pay their respect to ohenro-san. It was a very unique experience and different from hiking on other trails.
(50s USA Female)
The appeal of the Shikoku Pilgrimage is the mixture of the beauty of nature, making and following a spiritual vow, and the incredible kindness of the people of Shikoku. When I walk the pilgrimage with the spiritual intention, I can feel Kōbō Daishi is with me. You do not have to be Buddhist or religious to feel this. Walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage makes your life simpler. After returning home, I understood what life is all about, realize what is important to me, and be thankful for the little things. There is joy and surprise every day. This is really special.
(50s Australia Male)
Before coming here, I only knew about the Shikoku Pilgrimage through books. I focused on visiting temples. I went around the temples in order, prayed, spent some time, and enjoyed the difference between each temple. It was so simple. But as I traveled, the journey itself became the purpose, not the temples. What was important to me was the time I spent thinking along the way, meeting people, and seeing things that made me think deeply. I think that was the most precious about the pilgrimage. Maybe the pilgrimage evolves your thinking. I spent 10 hours a day thinking and I did it for 30 days. That is a long time. No work, no other distraction. This thinking is what a pilgrimage is all about, isn’t it?
(40s UK Male)
As I see a peaceful, quiet scenery, I was slowly able to see inside me. It was a kind of meditation. The Shikoku Pilgrimage allowed me to look at my life from the outside. I lost my way in life but I was able to spend my time facing myself deeply. For the first ten days, I focused on getting used to walking in Japan. Then little by little, I learned to relax and set my heart free in 40 days. When I finished, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. That is why I have come on the Shikoku Pilgrimage four times. The Shikoku Pilgrimage is vast and accepts various things. Nobody pushes you or judges you. That is why various people from foreign countries visit here as well. This place accepts diversity. Even temples do not force their religious beliefs on you. That was something I liked very much.
(30s France Male)
I started walking at sunrise and finished at sunset, and that was a very healthy rhythm. Concentrating on only walking relaxed my mind. I felt like I was a part of the community by walking through local houses and nature. I could see Japan from a closer distance. The temples or checkpoints give you a sense of accomplishment. Even if you are not interested in Buddhism, you can have a spiritual experience by walking on historic paths. Also, by being “Ohenro-san,” I could feel local people caring about me which is a heartwarming experience.
(30s Japan Female)
I can walk through various landscapes. I can make friends. I can feel the warmth and friendliness of the local people. I can have nice local food and drinks. I can share my experience. Overall, it was a very positive mental, physical, and spiritual challenge. It was very safe as well.
(30s Portugal Female)
I really enjoyed the long walks along the sea. I also enjoyed walking through the mountains, seeing the sea behind the trees, stepping out of the forest, and facing the sea again. I gained a deep understanding of life in the villages between the mountains and the sea in Kochi. How tasty was the simple takoyaki after all that walking around on a hot summer day! In a hotel and minshuku, I enjoyed the delicious and beautiful local food. I ate a lot and worked out a lot. It was a wonderful experience.
(30s USA Female)
The approaches to temple 71, Iyadaniji, and temple 72, Mandaraji were truly beautiful and definitely the highlight of the trip. It was as if I had stepped into a Studio Ghibli movie; it was of an authentic nature. Walking through the Japanese countryside is very fun.
(30s Belgium Male)
I was able to visit Ehime at the best time of the autumn leaves. The colored leaves were great from temples 44 to 45, Daihōji to Iwayaji, and the ascetic training experience left a deep impression on me. Also, there was a vast citrus field near temple 40. Local people told me that Ehime was famous for its citrus fruit. There are many varieties of tangerines alone, as well as citrons and sudachi. The citrons they gave me were surprisingly fresh and I wanted to make jam. The Shikoku Pilgrimage is very charming in the way that spirituality, transformation, nature, and pilgrimage are all mixed together. And it is less crowded, and you can see the real Japan.
(30s Scotland Male)
I camped in the forest, hitchhiked at the beach, rode the ferry with my bike, and saw wild monkeys, boars, deer, bats, and snakes. I spent my time not talking to anyone. Everything was new to me and great.
(30s Russia Female)
The ancient pilgrimage paths in Ehime (Nadamichi and Nakamichi) might be quite tough for people who have less trail experience in Japan but I enjoyed it very much. The forests were beautiful and the views from the open areas of the passes were breathtaking. The biggest charm of the Shikoku Pilgrimage is the opportunity to experience the unique cultural traditions of Japan and Shikoku. The beautiful nature and adventurous trails are also very appealing.
(40s USA Male)
The Shikoku Pilgrimage is not newly created but is already established. You can link to history through physical evidence, such as parts of ancient paths, old stone monuments, and old temples. I love traditional and old things.
(50s Germany Female)
By wearing pilgrim clothes, I felt I was part of something greater than us, a tradition of pilgrims that spans centuries.
(50s USA Female)
To move from one place to another with a common purpose or goal is like being part of a community.
(30s Russia Female)
I could see the Japanese lifestyle as I passed through many villages and towns. It was very interesting to see how rice is harvested in the rice paddies for the first time. I met many local people who told me about festivals and places I should visit, so I want to come again.
(30s France Female)
I saw the shirasu (baby sardines) fishing in the morning on the beach of Kochi. Raw shirasu was so amazing. I also saw people drying up a shark they caught. They said they will cut the shark into 250g blocks, dry them, and sell them to the people in the mountain areas of Kochi. People from the sea and mountain areas trade products. My home country is on the land and we have a little custom to eat fish other than river fish, so I was very happy to have sea fish. The fresh local fish is truly valuable. In Kochi, I had local food such as katsuo no tataki (lightly roasted bonito) and they were so good.
(40s Slovakia Male)
In Goshikidai, Kagawa, I was impressed by the bonsai trees. There were many small young bonsai trees planted in the fields. I was like “Wooow!” to see bonsai fields. There were so many kinds of bonsai trees.
(30s USA Female)
I visited the Ishizuchi Shrine at the top of Mt. Ishizuchi and deeply understood the difference between Shintoism and Buddhism. I had been trying to learn but did not understand them well. This time, I came to Shikoku as a tourist but I was able to learn religion as well and it was worth a lot to me. Mt. Ishizuchi was covered with snow and there was a light coming from the sky on the shrine, giving it a divine beauty.
(60s Australia Male)