Shikoku Henro (Shikoku pilgrim)

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By Bob Watada

Emiko Goto and Rosa Sakanishi at Temple Gift shop in Shikoku, Japan

Happy 90th birthday to David Toyama!

For hundreds of years the devout have taken the pilgrimage of the 88 temples around the island of Shikoku, Japan, also known as the “hachijuhachikasho” of Shikoku.

In the traditional dress of a white shirt, sedge (conical straw) hat and walking stick, the pilgrims visited each of the temples covering a distance of 1200 kilometers. The walking takes 30-60 days. Originally, the pilgrims were Buddhist monks, but today the trek is taken by people from all walks of life. Many are tourists who take the pilgrimage by car, bus, train, or taxi. A number of people continue to walk the entire distance to experience a meditative life encounter.

Each of the Buddhist temples have a special significance and are quite distinctive. Some of the temples are more than 1500 years old. The route takes one through beautiful mountain trails as well as modern roads. Along the way there are hot baths or onsen and traditional cuisine that one can enjoy at the temples.

With our friend, Emiko Goto of Shikoku, we visited seven temples in January 2016 and vowed to return some day and complete the pilgrimage visiting the 88 temples.

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