Shikoku Pilgrimage FAQ

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?

There are many different types of lodging available for pilgrims and a great list of cheap/free places to stay can be found on the Walking my Life site.

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.

23 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Angela says:

    Hello!

    Discovered your blog while researching about this pilgrimage.
    It’s very well done and helpful!

    I will have a full week in May (golden week), and I’m thinking about doing a week hike.
    I see you recommend 4 sections, I would like to know which one is the more scenic?
    I’m going there mainly to enjoy the Nature and mountains!

    Thank you.

    1. David says:

      Hi Angela – they are all pretty scenic, the recommendation in Tokushima is the most accessible while the routes in Kochi and Ehime are the most remote/off road. Good luck with your hike!

  2. Giles says:

    Hi. We have time the last two weeks of November and first two weeks of December. Is this a crazy time to be walking Shikoku or would it be fine if we have sensible gear? Many thanks

  3. Sue Andrews says:

    Hi David
    I did the pilgrimage in 2016, starting in September and finishing at the end of October. Now feeling desperate to go again, but the only available time will be between late January and end of March next year. Noting what you said about temperatures in February, what is the EARLIEST you would consider reasonable to start the walk ? ( I wouldn’t be camping)

  4. Susan A says:

    Thanks, David. I guess being British will be helpful then. We get 8 degrees C even in summer some years. I found walking in 31C in 2015 really tough.
    .

  5. Patricia Cooper says:

    Hi David we are travelling in a camper mid april. Wondering if there is a book nominating camp sites. Also what would temperatures be like. It says mild??

  6. Gray Ramsey says:

    Hi David, thanks for the blog. I have 27 days in Japan this March. I was planning to spend most of that time on the pilgrimage and prefer to be off pavement and in wilderness when possible. Do you think the 4 sections you outline are doable in that time or would you recommend something else. I’m experienced in solo hiking in Australia Nepal and North American for up to a month at a time and in wilderness.
    Cheers
    Gray

    1. David says:

      Hi Gray – I think those 4 sections would be possible in 27 days. If it was me, I’d probably opts to hike the south side of the island from cape to cape since it’s generally more remote and picturesque than the north side in my opinion. Good luck!

  7. Saray says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the information!

    I would like to know whick part of the trail would you walk if you only had 3-4 days. We are a group of maybe 12 people.

    Thank you

    1. David says:

      Hi Saray – with 3-4 days, I’d probably start at temple 10 or 11 and see how far I could go from there. With 12 people, be sure to book your accommodation in advance.

      All the best!

  8. Glenna says:

    Hi, David! Thank you for this blog! I’m a fairly active 66yo woma and have about a week in early September. I’ll be walking/alone and prefer forested trails over pavement. Any suggestions? I’ve kinda narrowed it down between Ehime and Tokushima. Suggestions welcome! Thank you!

    1. David says:

      Hi Glenna – please see my list of recommended sections in each prefecture above. For the most remote/green views, I’d recommended Kochi, though the walking there is sometimes a bit more challenging due to the sparsity of amenities.

  9. Preston Thompson says:

    Hello David,

    Sorry for the same type of question as everyone else, but if you were only doing two days and wanted the most scenic section, where would you start and finish?

    I’ve been looking for some advice like you’re giving for a while. Glad I finally came across this!

    Much appreciated,

    Preston

  10. Preston Thompson says:

    Hello David,

    I am very glad I found this page. I was looking for advice on the Shikoku Pilgrimage for a while!

    If you were only to do 2 days, where would you start and finish if you were looking for the best scenery?

    Thank you very much,

    Preston

  11. Ira Chaleff says:

    Which section of the Shikoku temple walk is both scenic and the least hilly? 74 years old and okay to walk up to 5 miles per day if not excessively hilly.

  12. ross fullerton says:

    Hello David, great post mate, we ve only just stumbled apon this temple walk. My partner and i have complete other long distance walking in the past and are now interested in this way. The thing is , we now have a 2 year old. any thoughts on specific difficulties of this journey for a family of 3 ? i know difficulties can vary depending on the family and individuals , adaptability etc just thought id ask u if anything obvious comes to mind.

    Again, great blog. Thanks.

    Ross

    1. David says:

      Hey Ross, I think with a small child the key thing would be safety while walking on the road sections (of which there is a lot). Honestly some parts are a bit sketchy even for an adult so I would consider finding alternate routes or taking trains/busses to avoid busy roads and tunnels. To be certain of accommodation book a couple of days in advance. All the best!

  13. Hello David
    30 years I did not see the colors of autumn ( living in Southeast Asia) so I plan to go next year in Shikoku. What’s the best parts of the island and the best time ( September October or November if you know it !) to see the forests with their beautiful autumn colors ? I will stay about 3 weeks , slow pace walking . Thanks a lot for advice your website !

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