About Shikoku Pilgrimage
The Shikoku pilgrimage route takes in the 88 temples visited on foot by the famous Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi, also known as Kukai. People undertake this journey for various reasons, such as health, self-searching, fortune, or matchmaking.
There are no rules on what one must wear when doing the pilgrimage. But you may as well do it the proper way and wear a sedge hat, white clothing, a Buddhist stole, and carry a wooden staff.
You can buy all these pilgrimage items at numerous stores.
The pilgrimage can be completed on foot, by taxi, bus, rental car, or even in your own car. To complete the full circuit of 88 temples, it usually takes on average about 40 days by foot, 20 days by bicycle, and 10 days by car. Pilgrims can also visit the sites in any order they like.
In particular, teaming up with a group of friends (anywhere between 1 and 9 people) and using a taxi is an easy and reassuring way to visit all the temples because your taxi driver will have a lot of knowledge about the pilgrimage route.
- Make a bow before entering the temple grounds.
- Rinse your mouth and wash your hands at the washing fountain.
- Strike the bell.
- Offer a nameslip and a copy of the sutra at the main hall.
*The nameslip should include your name, address, age, the date of visit, and your wishes.
- Light incense and make a monetary offering.
- Put your hands together and quietly chant the sutras.
- Proceed to the shrine of Kobo Daishi and make the same offerings again.
- Receive a stamp in your booklet at the place of offering.
- Make a bow when leaving the temple grounds.
There is also a pilgrimage route that takes in seven sites. This circuit takes in seven temples spanning number 71 (Iyadani-ji) to 77 (Doryu-ji) and can be completed in a single day. It is said to offer the same virtues as if one visited all 88 sites. Why not use a taxi to easily experience the Shikoku pilgrimage? You can also purchase stickers at these seven temples to affix to a fancy piece of cardboard as a memento of your pilgrimage.
- #71 Iyadani-ji: Wonderful views await after climbing up 540 stone steps.
- #72 Mandara-ji
- #73 Shusshakaji
- #74 Koyama-ji
- #75 Zentsu-ji: Roughly 10 minutes by taxi from Highway Zentsuji bus stop. The "hard bread" sold at the sweets shop in front of the temple really is hard and definitely worth trying.
- #76 Konzo-ji: Roughly 5 minutes from Kosokuzentsuji bus stop and the closest of all the temples.
- #77 Doryu-ji
Pilgrims are free to start the circuit at any of these temples.