Shikoku 88 Introduction

Shikoku 88 temple route

Shikoku literally means “four provinces” and the pilgrim’s journey through the four provinces is considered to be a symbolic path to enlightenment. The theme of the Tokushima province (temples 1–23) is Awakening; the Kōchi province (temples 24–39) is Ascetic training; the Ehime province (temples 40–65) is Enlightenment; and the Kagawa province (temples 66–88) is Nirvana.

The temples are primarily situated along the coasts, and many are situated in and the four main towns – Tokushima (temples 1-17), Kochi (temples 28-36); Matsuyama (temples 48-53) and Takamatsu (temples 78-87).


The actual route is 1.1413 km – although this number varies, as there are often different routes to get from one temple to the next. There is not rule for how one should make the pilgremage – some do it partly or wholy on foot, some use public transport, some cycle, some drive and many Japanese, participate in guided tours covering a subset of the pilgremage.  You can combine different methods, and also make the pilgremage over many years.

People that walk the pilgremage usually takes between 40 and 50 days to complete the whole journey. Most people do the journey from Temple 1 to 88, but you don’t have to visit the temples in any particular order. Some actually make the pilgrimage in reverse order, and in some years this is considered as bringing luck.

The rounte profile is, as one could expect given the mountainous nature of the island, very hilly. The following route profile is taken from the Shikoku 88 “bible”, the book, Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide, published by Buyodo Co. Ltd.

If you want to read more, is a great ressource to start, and includes links to the guide mentioned above.

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