From Shikoku

A journal of my 1,400km pilgrimage on foot around the 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) on the island of Shikoku, Japan. April 30 to June 20, 2016.

Outdoor Gear Review

Gear Knolling

Unlike outdoor adventures I’ve undertaken before, the Shikoku Pilgrimage is unique in that you’re rarely far from civilisation and that it takes upwards of 7 weeks to complete. This means you don’t need to worry about food or cooking equipment but any gear you carry needs to be extremely durable and light. Read more

Tokushima’s Cultural Landscapes

Kashihara no Tanada (樫原の棚田)

For my last full day in Shikoku, Masako was kind enough to drive me around Tokushima, starting at Kamodani (加茂谷) in Anan City (阿南市) between Kakurin-ji (鶴林寺 – 20) and Tairyūji (太竜寺 – 21). It was a damp morning and fog hung over the mountains, creating a surreal aura along the valley floor. Read more

Kotohira-gū Shrine

Kotohira-gū Shrine

During my final weekend in Shikoku, one of the places I visited was Kotohira-gū (金刀比羅宮), a huge Shinto shrine that sits halfway up Mount Zōzu and is said to have been founded during the 1st century. Read more

Pilgrimage Epilogue

Bamboo Henro Man

Arriving at my apartment in Tokyo on Tuesday at noon, part of me didn’t want to unpack the bag that had been strapped to my back for most of the past two months. After all the endings of the last few days at Ōkubo-ji, Ryōzen-ji and Kōya-san, this was the moment when I knew the adventure was over and it was time to face a new beginning. Read more

Day 52: Kōya-san

Tori Gate in Okunoin Cemetery

After a fun weekend exploring a few sights in Tokushima and Kagawa that I’d missed the first time around (more on this in a later post) I woke at 5.30am on Monday morning and made my way to the Nankai Ferry terminal, about 20 minutes by bus from Tokushima Station. Read more

Day 49: Return to Ryōzen-ji


I’d like to say I slept soundly last night in preparation for the final push but at 3am my neighbour decided to watch TV. After five minutes of listening to the muffled sounds of a sports game, I banged on the wall. Loudly. Not very Buddhist perhaps but it did the trick. Read more

Day 48: Ōkubo-ji

Swirling clouds over Sanuki

Dark clouds hung from the sky as I set out to conquer the final temple this morning. Usually this would be a cause for concern, but with the end in sight it only emboldened me to walk faster. Read more

Day 47: The Final Countdown

Nagao-ji Banner

With anticipation of the end building, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and so it was an effort to drag myself out of bed this morning. Thankfully the sky was looking clear and bright. Read more