Pilgrimage On Shikoku Island

Online forum for discussions related to the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku, Japan.


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    Shikoku Henro Trail
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    Very general information

    Post by Shikoku Henro Trail on Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:01 am

    Originally posted by several members in June 2017.
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    Boreq

    « Thread started on: Jun 22nd, 2015, 05:34am »

    I have been looking around for information, but there are still some question I have concerning the Shikoku trail. It seems like such a great experience, and I get overwhelmed with joy while planning it.

    1.) Is Shikoku becoming too 'touristy'? Are there still parts where one walks alone? Are there not too many foreigners? I would like to experience Japanese culture to the max wink

    2.) Which time of year is best to walk this trail? I was thinking of May - June. Is this too hot? I could try and go in April, but I would like to use that month to practice a lot of Japanese cheesy

    3.) Is there a good connection to Tokyo? What is the most common way to reach the island from Europe? I would like to see the Japanese capital as well.

    Sorry if some of these questions are rather obvious, but I found it hard to find satisfying answers online. Also: would you prefer Shikoku over the Tokai trail and why?

    I am looking forward to hearing from you guys cheesy

    « Last Edit: Jun 22nd, 2015, 05:34am by Boreq »

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    Josh

    « Reply #1 on: Jun 22nd, 2015, 07:44am »
    1.) Shikoku is not 'touristy' at all. The most 'touristy' city I saw was Kochi, and that was all Japanese people. The reason why Kochi is busy is because it is the birthplace of Sakamoto Ryoma, a famous revolutionist.
    During my time on Shikoku I did not see many foreigners, maybe a handful at most, and they were all pilgrims.

    2.) I walked in late March/early April and it was t-shirt weather. It was pretty hot, I always had a few water bottles in my bag. Here's a link that I referenced when choosing when to go:
    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2273.html

    3.) To get to Shikoku from Tokyo: Take a bullet train from Tokyo to Okayama (I took the Hikari Shinkansen) and then from Okayama take a train to wherever you need to go to on Shikoku. Good chances you may have to change trains at Takamatsu when you're on Shikoku.

    I can't really answer your last question on the Tokai trail because I never really took it.

    I think the best part of the Shikoku trail was there were so many people to talk to. When you put on the white jacket it is an invitation to come talk to you. I really built up confidence in my Japanese by talking to the people who took care of the temples and they really enjoyed talking to me.

    Best of luck,
    Josh

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    Alexandre

    « Reply #2 on: Jun 23rd, 2015, 03:55am »
    1) Not in my opinion. You will walk alone most of the time if you want so. Speaking a basic Japanese helps a lot to get the best of Japanese people. Try also the public Onsen (if you know the proper manners) in small towns.
    2) April-May or October. March is still cold, but beautiful with hana-mi (cherry blossom).
    3) You have night bus from Tokyo to Tokushima.
    Edit: You also have a night ferry Tokyo (Odaïba)<->Tokushima. I took it two years ago, and it was very pleasant.
    For a start at temple#1, my opinion is to book a fly from Europe to KIX (Kansaï airport), and then the KIX-Tokushima bus. See KIX website for price and timetable.
    For example, I have booked a Montpellier (France) <-> KIX for 600€ with KLM for the end of October 2015.

    « Last Edit: Jun 23rd, 2015, 04:00am by Alexandre »

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    cpetersky

    « Reply #3 on: Sep 2nd, 2015, 10:39pm »
    Over a hundred thousand Japanese do the pilgrimage each year, mostly via tour bus. One could argue that all those Japanese pilgrims make it "touristy" But it is far from over-run with foreigners. I had heard that only about two dozen of us from overseas walked the trail the spring I did the pilgrimage.

    And spring is the most popular time for the pilgrimage. The entire time I was on the trail, I encountered 4 other foreigners: a British fellow doing it "on the rough", and not very concerned about hitting every temple along the path; a French woman who didn't speak more than two words to me, even though I tried to engage her both in her language and in Japanese; and two Canadian women, mother and daughter, who are resident in Japan, and were doing the pilgrimage as a series of long weekend trips over many months.

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    Boreq

    « Reply #4 on: Sep 5th, 2015, 03:50am »
    Thanks all for the information, I did not get to replying earlier but I appreciate the help. I have ordered the books on Shikoku so my plans are getting more real every day... smiley

    So would June definitely be too late to start walking? Late June - July would be perfect with an eye on my current study. Otherwise, I would have to take a semester off, which I could also deal with.

    And one, maybe silly question, but since the Shikoku trail is along the coastline for a great deal: what is the threat of tsunamis? Is Shikoku a risky area to be if there are is another tsunami? I have to give comfort to my mother, the kind soul, who is already worried about stuff like this Smile

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    cpetersky

    « Reply #5 on: Sep 5th, 2015, 08:08am »
    I don't think walking in June and July is impossible, just very hot. Your progress will be slower and you will need to take a lot of water. It is easier to successfully complete in the spring.

    As for tsunamis, when I was there in 2014, they were building tsunami platforms like crazy along the route. By now, these must be complete. It took me a while to figure out what these were. In the wake of Fukushima's disaster, they were putting these in where there would be no natural topological escape.

    When I was there that spring we had an earthquake strong enough to wake me up, in Kochi. I got out of bed and hunkered down such that if the building began to collapse, I would be relatively protected.

    I live on the Ring of Fire on the other side of the Pacific, so I have been through enough earthquake drills. The issue with tsunamis is that you have only a short time to recover from the quake and get yourself out and up. As you walk the south coast, just note where they have signed the escape routes and the platforms. Can't hurt.

    « Last Edit: Jan 7th, 2016, 12:37pm by cpetersky »

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    Simon

    « Reply #6 on: Sep 21st, 2015, 09:07am »
    This thread reminds me of this happening earlier this year - be careful in summer:

    "Shocking news about a Western pilgrim in Shikoku: A long time ago there were Japanese pilgrims who collapsed along the journey (called yukidaore henro) and in some cases, died. In fact, some of these people`s graves can be seen along the route. Well, yesterday a non-Japanese pilgrim lost consciousness and collapsed and might have died if he had not been rescued by a temple priest and taken to the hospital by ambulance. The reason - walking in yesterday`s 36C weather with extremely high humidity! The priest wrote last night, "He is ok now, but under this heat, all walking pilgrims should carry more water." Although carrying a lot of water is not sufficient! I am relieved to hear that he will be okay, but I was very surprised to find out that, "He should have medical insurance coverage and at least some cash if he has no valid credit card." *** So, to those who are planning on making the Shikoku pilgrimage: 1. please come prepared for the weather (I strongly advise not walking in the summer), 2. have proper medical insurance and 3. carry some cash on you in case of an emergency." Posted on FB by Dave Moreton

    Greetings,
    Simon

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    TenaciousAC

    « Reply #7 on: Apr 1st, 2016, 04:28am »
    on Jun 22nd, 2015, 05:34am, Boreq wrote:
    2.) Which time of year is best to walk this trail? I was thinking of May - June. Is this too hot? I could try and go in April, but I would like to use that month to practice a lot of Japanese cheesy


    Having been in Osaka and Tokyo during very hot Julys and Augusts, doing a May-June pilgrimage would mean starting in warm-hot weather and have it get it hotter as the trip goes on.

    My plan is to do it during one of the 'bridging' seasons, so either autumn/fall in October/November or (most likely) in the spring of Feb/March 2017.

    Japanese summers are very humid, so if you can handle it, go for it.

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    Boreq

    « Reply #8 on: Jun 16th, 2017, 01:09am »
    So, I have completed the journey, and here is how I personally look back on the question I had before walking - maybe this helps people with the same questions.

    1.) Is Shikoku becoming too 'touristy'? Are there still parts where one walks alone? Are there not too many foreigners? I would like to experience Japanese culture to the max wink

    I met quite some foreigners. If you want to be a Unique and Very Special Sight to the Japanese people, you should probably go to the country side of the main island. But, I enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and for one thing, the foreigners are respectful and did not turn the place into a tourist trap. So, definitely not too touristy.

    2.) Which time of year is best to walk this trail? I was thinking of May - June. Is this too hot? I could try and go in April, but I would like to use that month to practice a lot of Japanese cheesy

    I started in March (21st), which was kind of cold for camping outside. But I am glad I did start this early, seeing that temperatures rose quickly in May.

    3.) Is there a good connection to Tokyo? What is the most common way to reach the island from Europe? I would like to see the Japanese capital as well.

    I did not go to Tokyo, preferring to linger in the smaller cities. One can fly to Kansai Airport of Osaka, which was for me the cheapest and fastest option.

    Feel free to ask me anything if you are planning to walk the henro next year!




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