Below are questions I’ve been frequently asked about the Shikoku Pilgrimage and my answers. If there’s something you’d like to know which hasn’t already been answered, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
What time of year is best to walk?
April/May in Spring and September/October in Autumn are the best times of year to walk the pilgrimage when the weather isn’t too hot, cold or humid. Beware of the rainy season in June which can make walking pretty unpleasant. Waterproofs are a must.
Is the English guide necessary? Where can I buy it?
The English guide is a must-have since it has a huge amount of vital information in it besides just the trail (like places to stay/eat/wash). You can buy it on Amazon Japan (they ship internationally) and a number of other location.
Google Maps also comes in useful for checking your location and direction.
What sort of accommodation is available? How can I find cheap places?
Can you get by without speaking Japanese?
While you don’t need to speak Japanese to follow the trail, every little bit you learn will make the experience much easier and richer.
Is it OK to wear shorts?
I bought a light pair of shorts but only wore them in the evening while washing my trousers. I preferred wearing trousers during the day because of the risk of snake/insect bites and it felt more respectful when visiting the temples.
Can you sleep outside without a tent?
There are many huts around the island, many of which could be slept in without a tent if you don’t mind being exposed to the elements. I usually pitched my tent under the huts and liked having the extra privacy/protection.
Keep in mind that Japanese people care about cleanliness a lot so be sure to visit an onsen every day to wash, your legs will thank you too!
What gear did you carry?
See my full review of everything I carried.
How much did the trip cost?
This varies hugely depending on what type of accommodation and any transportation you use. Budget around ¥10,000/day if staying in a minshuku, and ¥2,500/day if camping or similar.
If you only had 1 week in Shikoku, which part of the trail would you walk?
Below are my recommendations of the most interesting/scenic hiking sections in each prefecture:
- Tokushima – temples 11 to 23
- Kochi – temples 24 to 27 and 36 to 38 (taking publish transport in-between)
- Ehime – temples 40 to 46 or 60 to 66
- Kanagawa – temples 78 to 88 (and back to no. 1)
Be warned that approximately 60% of the pilgrimage trails follow concrete roads. The recommendations above prioritise mountainous/forested sections.