Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage self-guided 4 days in Ehime

The trail towards enlightenment

Highlights

  • Walk on lovely parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail in Ehime
  • Stay at an authentic hilltop Shukubo pilgrims lodging on the trail
  • Climb the iconic ladder to the meditation spot used by Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism
  • Bathe in natural thermal waters at historic Dogo Onsen
  • Sleep on Futons laid out on Tatami-mat flooring in traditional Japanese inns
  • Visit the beautiful and historic castle in Matsuyama
Shikoku is Japan's fourth-largest island, home to some of the country's most spectacular and undeveloped scenery. The island is also the setting for an ancient walking trail, the challenging Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The trail connects 88 Buddhist temples and the full walk covers more than a thousand kilometres. Pilgrims, known as O-henro, traditionally covered the journey on foot over many weeks, staying overnight at Shukubo temple lodgings. Most modern travellers now travel from temple to temple by tour bus, but we have found sections of the original route which can still be enjoyed on foot.
Shikoku is Japan's fourth-largest island, home to some of the country's most spectacular and undeveloped scenery. The island is also the setting for an ancient walking trail, the challenging Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The trail connects 88 Buddhist temples and the full walk covers more than a thousand kilometres. Pilgrims, known as O-henro, traditionally covered the journey on foot over many weeks, staying overnight at Shukubo temple lodgings. Most modern travellers now travel from temple to temple by tour bus, but we have found sections of the original route which can still be enjoyed on foot.

Please ask for information about tour extensions to the mountain-top temple town of Mount Koya with its monastery lodgings, the art island of Naoshima or the UNESCO World Heritage of Miyajima Island, and Tomonoura Bay on the Setouchi inland sea.

 

We happily welcome younger walkers on to our trips with an accompanying adult. We offer a 10% price reduction for children (6-11) and an 80% price reduction for infants (0-5). Please contact us for specific hiking, meal or bedding enquiries. Please see here for other trips best suited to families.

 

 Downloadable PDF itinerary

What′s included

  • 3 nights at Japanese inns on Shikoku Island
  • 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • Round-trip transportation from Kyoto or Osaka & pre-paid taxi rides on Day 3 and Day 4
  • Detailed day-by-day itinerary, walking directions and Shikoku Island guidebook
  • Topographical maps
  • Local support by telephone

What′s not included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches
  • Pay locally for bus journeys on each day
  • Single room supplement(s) if required

Day 1 - Ehime (Temples 57 to 58)

Start from Kyoto or Osaka and travel by train to Imabari in northern Ehime to begin your hike to Temple 57 Eifuku-ji. The walk gradually passes from urban townscape to rural farming communities before entering a forest with a steady climb to Temple 58 Senyū-ji. Visit Eifuku-ji and Senyū-ji and there is also an optional detour to Temple 56 Taisan-ji. Overnight at Senyū-ji, which offers pilgrim lodgings, or alternatively stay in a western-style hotel in Imabari City.

 

Walking distance: 4.4km / 2.7 miles
Elevation gain: 250m / 820 feet ascent and negligible descent
Time required: About 1.5 hours

 

Accommodation: Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging) or Hotel
Meals: Dinner

 

Typical Accommodation

Senyū-ji

Senyū-ji provides spacious, comfortable tatami rooms in an authentic, modern, hilltop pilgrims lodging with wonderful views.

Day 2 - Ehime (Temple 58 onwards)

The hike continues with a gentle walk down the mountain from Senyū-ji, with the opportunity to explore small village settlements on the way. Return to the town of Imabari, with an optional paved hike on to Temple 59 Iyo Kokubun-ji and continue onwards to Matsuyama by train and overnight in Dogo Onsen.

 

Walking distance: 4.4km / 2.7 miles
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and 250m / 820 feet descent
Time required: About 1 hour

An optional paved walk of 4.1km (2.5 miles) can extend the hike by a further 1.5 hours.

 

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Typical Accommodation

Sachiya Ryokan

This charming inn in the heart of Dogo Onsen is run by a friendly family with exceptional service, beautiful Japanese rooms, exquisite cuisine and lovely thermal baths.

Day 3 - Ehime (Temples 45 to 44)

Head south by bus from Matsuyama to Temple 45 Iwaya-ji, a temple closely linked to Kōbō Daishi - the priest who founded Shingon Buddhism and Mount Koya. Climb the iconic ladder to his meditation spot, with its spectacular views over the surrounding region. From Iwaya-ji, enjoy a lovely forest hike to Temple 44 Daiho-ji before returning by bus to Matsuyama in the evening. Overnight in Dogo Onsen.

 

Walking distance: 11.7km / 7.3 miles
Elevation gain: 650m / 2130 feet ascent and 580m / 1900 feet descent
Time required: About 4 hours

 

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Typical Accommodation

Sachiya Ryokan

This charming inn in the heart of Dogo Onsen is run by a friendly family with exceptional service, beautiful Japanese rooms, exquisite cuisine and lovely thermal baths.

Day 4 - Ehime (Temples 60 to 62)

The tour ends with a rewarding hike in the east of Ehime Prefecture. Travel by bus from Matsuyama, connect with your pre-booked pre-paid taxi, then walk from Temple 60 Yokomine-ji to Temple 61 Kouon-ji and onwards to Temple 62 Hoju-ji. The walk passes through a rural area of Shikoku and the temples are in lovely natural settings. After the hike, travel onwards by train to Osaka or Kyoto, arriving in the afternoon or early evening.


Walking distance:
 11.3km / 7 miles
Elevation gain: 140m / 460 feet ascent and 870m / 2850 feet descent
Time required: About 4 hours.

An optional forest walk of 2.4km (1.5 miles) can extend the hike by a further hour.

 

Meals: Breakfast