Day 5: Nagoro Ghost Village

It rained hard throughout the night but luckily by 6 am when we rose for breakfast it had stopped.


With a full stomach and a cheery goodbye from the owners of Sudachi-kan we set off back into the mountains at 7 am.

Light through trees
Light through bamboo

It was a bright morning and the light streaming through the trees made for a pleasant morning hike.

Tamaga toge
Kamiyama valley
Henro hut above Kamiyama valley
Kamiyama valley

After passing Tamaga toge the path opened out onto a breathtakingly beautiful view of the valley below. A little further on a henro hut had been built to take advantage of the vista.

Grandparent dummies
Mother and child dummies

As we descended to the valley floor we reached a small village which seemed to be empty but for slightly creepy life-sized dummies of people; children, parents, grandparents and more were all casually posed around the streets.

School children dummies

Was this a piece of installation art reflecting on Japan’s declining population or the work of a pensioner with a lot of free time?!

Farmer in field
Farmers in field

For the past five days, we’ve been walking through fields of various crops (mostly rice) and it’s been fascinating to watch the farmers at work, using surprisingly very little machinery.

Late morning we met the River Akui at the bottom of the valley and stopped for a break while dipping our sore feet into the ice-cold water. It would have been nice to stay longer.

Road beside River Akui

The rest of the route towards Dainichi-ji (大日寺 – 13) followed the river along an asphalt road which wasn’t very forgiving on our legs and a touch worrying with the cars whizzing past.

At one point a large bamboo tree fell as we walked into the middle of the road blocking one lane. I was worried it might cause an accident so tried to move it but it was surprisingly stubborn. A driver stopped and was able to shift it with his friends so the crisis was averted.

We arrived at Dainichi-ji around 3 pm exhausted. The original plan had been to reach temple 17 but since we were so tired we phoned around to try and reserve somewhere to stay. Unfortunately, it turned out that everywhere was booked because there was an event happening this evening.

In the end, we decided to make a quick dash to Jōraku-ji (常楽寺 – 14), Awa Kokubun-ji (阿波国分寺 – 15), and Kannon-ji (観音寺 – 16) which were only a couple of km apart before the stamp office closed at 5 pm. It was a bit rushed but was nice to see the temples during the golden hour.


The priest at Awa Kokubun-ji got very excited when I told him I was from the UK since he was a Leicester City fan. Knowing nothing about football I could only smile. Turns out they’re top of the Premier League.

Kannon-ji main gate
Kannon-ji touring henro

At Kannon-ji we encountered our first group of touring henro who were crammed onto three buses going from temple to temple. They were all wearing matching hats and chanting in unison. Luckily I got to the nokyocho before them.

Sakae Taxis

In the end, we ended up staying at another great zenkonyado (善根宿) inside the offices of a taxi firm, Sakae Taxis, which provide a couple of nice rooms for pilgrims to freely stay. I can’t quite get over how kind people are to provide these places.

Since we’re close to the city of Tokushima (徳島市) we’re probably going to take it a bit easy tomorrow and explore some of the local sights.


Distance walked: 27 km / 44,000 steps
Temples visited: 13–16
Overnight lodgings: Sakai Taxies (国府タクシー) – Zenkonyado

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David avatar

10 responses

  1. Margaret avatar

    Yes, it’s been quite a story in the news here! Buddhist monks in Thailand have been invoking ‘good karma’ on Leicester City!!! Leicester CityFC are a small unfashionable team and have won the premier League ?

  2. Sarah avatar

    Beautiful scenery – some great pictures although those scarecrows/dummies are a little freaky!! Oh dear, letting the family down..Leicester City are not only top of the Premier League but they’ve won it this season which was a complete surprise as they aren’t usually one of the top teams, it’s a “Cinderella story” x

  3. Wendy avatar

    Beautiful scenery thanks for sharing.

  4. Michael McCarthy avatar
    Michael McCarthy

    Loving your blog and especially your pilgrimage posts.

    Is this the town? Japanese ghost town Nagoro has more scarecrow dolls than actual people:

    lots more here:

    Thanks and keep trekking!

    1. Yes, that’s the place – thanks Michael! I remember reading about this place last year but never imagined I’d actually visit it by chance 🙂

  5. oldmankk avatar

    Yes, that was Nagoro Village ! More big soft dolls than villagers.

  6. Francesco avatar

    Reading about Nagoro Village and watching these scarecrows – they’re scary for sure – reminded me of another strange Japanese village. It isn’t creepy, it’s just, i don’t know, hilarious? When a friend of mine told me about it, we couldn’t stop laughing.,_Aomori

    1. Wow, that’s just… beyond words! Really bizarre.

  7. A Edwards avatar
    A Edwards

    Apparently, Sakae Taxi’s no longer operates this zenkonyado, though I’m not in a position where I can independently verify this myself. I’ve read a half dozen or so different blogs and accounts of the Shikoku pilgrimage, and this place seems to have become infamous enough among pilgrims (permanent or otherwise) that the number of people staying there might have become untenable. That last part is just speculation on my part.

    It’s always interesting to read these accounts from 4-6 years ago of people doing the pilgrimage in the mid-to-late 2010’s because a lot could have changed by now. Sudachi-kan appears to be going strong as a overnight lodge, though.

    1. Yes, Sakae Taxi’s closed and the building was demolished a few years ago sadly. The owners were been amazingly generous to run it for so long.


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