Shikoku 88 – 2018

Japan 2018

Shikoku 88

During April and May 2018, I spent almost 8 weeks in Japan. The first 32 days were spent following the route of Kõbõ Dashi, accredited with founding the Shikoku pilgrimage. I visited 88 temples, walking more than 700 kms of the 1200 km route, and using public transport for the rest.

After visiting the 88 temples, I travelled to the main island of Japan, Honshu. More specifically the Kii Peninsula. I spent a week walking the Kumano Kodo, visiting Koyasan, where Kobo Daishi is believed to have died (or is resting!) and visiting Wakayama, the areas largest city.

Follow my journey via the day-by-day blog I wrote whilst in Japan, and experience with me, what a fantatstic place Shikoku is, with beautiful landscapes, fantastic temples and amazing people and hospitality.

Introduction to Shikoku 88

Background and information

Read about the island of Shikoku, the 88 temple route, pilgrim attire, temple etiquette, gifts, Nõkyõchõ and Osame-fuda and not least Kobo Daishi, the founder of the 1.200km route.

Read more
Shikoku 88

From temple to temple

From Tokushima to Takamara and back to Tokushima. Starting April 8th 2018, I followed the route of Kõbõ Dashi, accredited with founding the Shikoku pilgrimage. I did not walk all 1.200 km whilst visiting the 88 temples, but just above 700 km during my 5 week pilgrimage.

Follow my journey via the blog I wrote whilst walking, and experience with me, what a fantatstic place Shikoku is, with beautiful landscapes, fantastic temples and amazing people and hospitality.

Day 0: Copenhagen to Tokushima April 8, 2018 It's Sunday morning and I am sitting on a bus, just leaving Osaka Airport. It’s sunny, but windy. Along the coast there are windsurfers and a baseball match. Sitting here, looking out, this could just as well be the US - highways and highrises. Lene drove me to the airport, we left home at 11am,… Read more >
Day 1: Temples 1 – 5 April 9, 2018 Today wasn't supposed to be a walking day, but a settling in day. However, upon arriving in Tokushima, I went straight to the hotel to check-in. But when official check-in time is 14.00, it doesn't help that you've just flown in from HEL and have barely slept, when it's only 12.45! I left my bag… Read more >
Day 2: Temples 6 – 10 April 9, 2018 I slept well, and only woke once during the night, which was not due to the earthquake that hit Japan and could be felt here. Breakfast was Japanese, so I'm going to have to get used to eating rice and pickled fish for breakfast. Something I would otherwise eat at dinner back home. I caught… Read more >
Day 3: Temples 11 – 12 April 10, 2018 If this was a bike race, this would be the kings stage - three tops at 626m, 745m and 706m and three tough downward ascents. All in all 24km, where pretty much 12km are uphill and 12km downhill. I was up at 6.30, breakfasted (they had cornflakes today!) and on the 8.12 train for Kamojima,… Read more >
Day 4: Temples 13 – 19 April 11, 2018 Seven temples and 25km, a long day. I caught the 8.10 bus to temple 13. Temple 13 is 10km after where I'd finished yesterday, so this was the first, and certainly not the last part of the route, that I will skip. As with other early trains and buses, it was full of school children… Read more >
Day 5: Temples 20 – 22 April 12, 2018 I got up at 6am, had a very quick breakfast, that opened at 7am sharp, and by 7.25 was on the bus that drops you at the bottom of the mountain that temple 20 is at the top of. Again, the bus was full of school kids, most of who were still on the bus… Read more >
Day 6: Day off April 13, 2018 Due to the fact that I started on Sunday instead of Monday, and as the hotel is booked until Saturday when I move on, I have a day without walking. According to my piedometer I walked 20 km anyway! I didn't set the alarm, and slept until 8am. So much for the theory that I… Read more >
Day 7: Temple 23 April 14, 2018 After temple 23, the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage changes from the awakening stage to the ascetic training stage as we move from Tokushima province to Kochi province. One could say exactly the same happens for me. Today I moved away from my base in Tokushima, and for the first time need to carry all my… Read more >
Day 8: Hiwasa to Mugi April 15, 2018 Really I should have called this Hiwasa to Mugi - the hard way. But more about that later. The guest house is run by a Frenchman, married to a Japanese lady. He has lived in Japan for 45 years. There are 4 rooms he lets out, and last night it was full, with one Japanese… Read more >
Day 9: Temples 24 – 26 April 16, 2018 Below is my view of the world just now, as I sit looking out over the Pacific, watching a couple of fishing boats slowly sail across the relative calm ocean. I'm sitting outside the Muruto whale museum, which I'd hoped to see if I had time, I had the time, but it is closed. So… Read more >
Day 10: Temples 27 – 30 April 17, 2018 Todays first hurdle, 425m above sea level, along 4km partly road and partly mountain track and the last 1km with an average gradiant of 45 degrees. I’d slept well, rose at 6.30, left my backpack at the hotel, and caught the 8.03 train to Tonohama. It took me 45 mins to get to the top,… Read more >
Day 11: Temples 31 – 34 April 18, 2018 I knew there would be days like this, days where you really wonder why you are doing this. Days where your feet or legs are just saying stop. It’s funny how you begin to address parts of your body as though they aren’t part of you, but kind of aside from the rest of you… Read more >
Day 12: Temples 35 – 36 April 19, 2018 Another day on asphalt on the outscirts of Kochi in beautiful weather - yet another day without a cloud in the sky. I was up at 6.30 and waiting for the first bus to Tosa, a few kilometers past where I finished yesterday. The bus arrived on time, just didn't go to Tosa - as… Read more >
Day 13: Temples 37, 39 April 20, 2018 For the first time I didn’t take the temples in the numbered order. Temple 38 is on Cape Ashizuri, the south-western tip of Shikoku. It is a day trip by bus, which I plan to do tomorrow. I left Kochi this morning with the 9.35 train going west. I took the first train to Kubokawa,… Read more >
Day 14: Temple 38 April 21, 2018 Today, Saturday, was in reality a rest day before 2 hard days (red days I call them) with full backpack. But what a day, the highlight so far. I woke around 6am and was packed and ready for breakfast at 7am when it opened. So were all the Japanese guests. At least there was a… Read more >
Day 15: Temples 40 – 42 April 22, 2018 A long and hard day, warm, but with some light clouds. I needed to get a train at 7.55 am, so I was up at 6 am, packed, checked out and ready for a repeat of yesterday's 7am breakfast rush. For some reason, breakfast started at 6.30 today. After a very quick breakfast, I walked the 2… Read more >
Day 16: Temples 43, 48 – 51 April 23, 2018 Beyond the fact that I have now passed the halfway mark in the number of temples visited, nothing much happened today - oh yes, I believe I finally saw a VELUX skylight (just in case anybody reading this isn’t aware, I work for VELUX in Denmark). I woke at 6.30 am and as my train… Read more >
Day 17: Temples 52 – 53 April 24, 2018 As the weather forecast predicted, it rained all day. I was up at 6.45 and soon waiting for a tram. On the tram map it looks like they travel in a circle, but in reality, all but one line stops at the station and turn around. So after waiting 10 minutes I only ended up… Read more >
Day 18: Temples 44 – 47 April 25, 2018 I’m sitting at a bar desk waiting for a Shinsin steak, whatever that is. It’s been a long and hard day. The good news is that I managed to get to the four temples I’d planned, but not in exactly the way I’d planned. The not so good news is that I havn’t previously felt… Read more >
Day 19: Temple 54 April 26, 2018 Today is the day I “won” when I ran to temple 42. It enabled me to get to Matsuyama earlier and after yesterday’s four temples, I had finished the temples in and around Matsuyama. I therefore decided to take the train to Onizhi, four kilometers from temple 54. This in turn will save me for… Read more >
Day 20: Temples 55 – 59 April 27, 2018 Today was the day where my legs finally agreed with my feet, that this is too much. At temple 58, after walking 200m upwards over a couple of kilometers, and thinking "finally, I made it" at the main gate, I find out that there are another 100m up over 250m - and the worst is,… Read more >
Day 21: Temples 60 – 62 April 28, 2018 It's a great feeling when what you had hoped would happen, but could not plan to happen, actually happens. That was how I felt at 9.45 as I started the 9.5 km ascent of Mount Ishizuchi, where temple 60 lies at 750m. I woke at 6.30 and had an OK breakfast with youghurt, cornflakes, toast,… Read more >
Day 22: Temples 63 – 64 April 29, 2018 It's Sunday, and I'm into week 4. Today was a quiet day after yesterdays long and hard day, and in preparation of tomorrows even harder. I went to bed at midnight without washing any clothes, but had expected to be able to sleep until 8'ish. But this is Japan. At 6.30 there was a communal… Read more >
Day 23: Temples 65 – 67 April 30, 2018 The other day I wrote that it was a fantastic feeling when everything one had hoped would happen, but you couldn't plan for, actually worked out. It is an even greater feeling when things work out far better than one had even dare dream of. That's what happened today. Below a view of the first… Read more >
Day 24: Temples 68 – 73 May 2, 2018 Another beautiful sunny day, where I managed to visit 6 temples and walk 27 km. I had planned today to be a quiet day, after yesterdays marathon, but my legs weren’t complaining and my feet always complain anyway. I forgot to mention yesterday that I actually walked in three of Shikoku’s four provinces, as 65… Read more >
Day 25: Temples 74 – 78 May 2, 2018 It was supposed to be stormy weather today. At 7am it was cloudy, but OK. Taking no chances it was long trousers, waterproof walking shoes and a rain jacket instead of fleece. It was warm and very humid. After the landlady found her camera so she could put me on her blog, I set off… Read more >
Day 26: Temples 79 – 80 May 4, 2018 On paper it was supposed to be an easy day, but I don’t feel that I’ve recovered from 39 and 27 kms I did a couple of days back. I hope to be back in form soon, as there are 3 very hard days waiting with many kilometers and four climbs, two tomorrow and then… Read more >
Day 27: Temples 81 – 83 May 5, 2018 It was another long day in the sun with a couple of mountains. I call them mountains, but I suppose they are very high hills! Going up and down, they certainly feel like mountains. I was up at 6.00 and on the 7.09 train to Kokubu, where I’d ended at temple 80 yesterday. I could… Read more >
Day 28: Temples 84 – 87 May 6, 2018 When walking as far as I now have, it is inevitable that there will be some wrong turns every now and then. Usually by taking the next left or right turn you are back on track. Today was the day where I made two wrong turns where there were no quick fixes, just extra kilometers.… Read more >
Day 29: Temple 88 May 7, 2018 The plan for today was simple, reach temple 88. As is becoming the norm, I woke at 6.00, and was sitting on the 7.25 to Nagao, where I had visited temple 87. The weather was sunny with no indication that it would turn to rain later today, as the weather report suggested. I passed quckly… Read more >
Day 30: Day off/Ritsurin Garden May 7, 2018 Today was a day off. The only thing I had to do was move from Takamatsu back to Tokushima, where I spent the six first days. The train passes within a kilometer of temple 1, so I could just get off, and close the circle. But I’ve decided, if the weather is OK tomorrow, to… Read more >
Day 31: Full Circle, Temple 1 May 9, 2018 I was up at 7.00, breakfasted and took the train back towards Takamatsu. I had planned to walk 25 km, half the distance between temples 88 and 1, but the weather forecast was rain, rain and more rain, so I got off a stop earlier at Hiketa and cut the walk down to 20 km.… Read more >
Day 32: Searching for Kobo Daishi May 9, 2018 It all started on day 19. After visiting temple 54, I walked back along the coast towards Matsuyama. In Kikuma, I passed a tile making factory, and the following made me stop up. A 1m tall (incl base) statue of Kobe Daishi. What a great idea to bring home with me as a souvenir! I… Read more >
Day 33: Kumano Kodo May 10, 2018 Just south of Wakayama is another pilgrimage, much shorter than the Shikoku pilgrimage - in fact less than 70 km - but with a number of pretty heavy climbs. The pilgrimage is similar to the Camino as there are many walkers from many countries, not least around the three spiritual sites on the route. It… Read more >
Day 34: Kumano Kodo May 12, 2018 Day 2 on the Kumano Kodo didn’t result in a lot of walking, but a lot of beautiful sights. Anybody going to Japan and not taking in the Kii peninsular, is making a big mistake. The nature is not quite as extraordinary as southern Shikoku, but it is close, and based on the three shrines… Read more >
Day 35: Japanese breakfast May 12, 2018 Finally on day 35, I had no choice, it was either Japanese breakfast or no breakfast. I half expected breakfast to be a set menu when they wanted to know what time I would be eating breakfast, so I wasn’t that surprised to find rice, fish, a half boiled egg in vinegar, seaweed, various pickled… Read more >
Day 36: Koyasan May 13, 2018 Koyasan is the center of Buddhist study and practice and founded by Kobo Daishi in 816. Koyasan was chosen as he wanted a monastery in the mountains, far from worldly distractions, a place where Buddhist monks could concentrate upon practicing and praying for peace and welfare of the people. It is situated at 900m in… Read more >
Day 37: Ceremonies in Koyasan and hidden temples and shrines May 14, 2018 My alarm was set for 6.00 and I was ready for the two Bhuddist ceremonies at 6.30 and 7.00. The first was for my ancestors and started by us all, in turn, burning incense - first bowing, the taking the incense from the pot, lifting it to your forehead and putting it on the incense… Read more >
Day 38: Off to Tokyo and Conclusion May 15, 2018 I write this final blog post sitting on the train to Shin-Osaka, on my way to Tokyo Narita airport where I will stay tonight before meeting my daughter for my final week in Japan. The train to Osaka left at 12.49, so I had a free morning to visit the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art,… Read more >