What is the Shikoku Pilgrimage?

The Shikoku pilgrimage route (also called “O-Shikoku”) is one of the few circular-shaped pilgrimages in the world. It includes 88 official temples and numerous other sacred sites where Kukai (Kobo Daishi) is believed to have trained or have spent time during the 9th century.  If walked, the entire route is about 1,200 kilometers (about 720 miles) long which allows one to experience the abundant natural surroundings of Shikoku and presents one with numerous opportunities to mix with the local people.

This pilgrimage provides the chance to reflect on one’s life and to change for the better.  The motives for doing this pilgrimage are varied.  For example, some come for religious reasons, some to pray for healing or safety in the home, or some in memory of those who have passed away.  As well, some come just to get away from regular life, some for recreation, or some to spend time alone in reflection and to find oneself.  To people today, it is being rediscovered as a healing journey.

This pilgrimage should not be considered a stamp relay, but as a religious journey.  Do not worry too much.  Just take the first step and as you travel around, you will have time to reflect on yourself and obtain something from this endeavor.  The local people will welcome you for your decision to embark on the Shikoku pilgrimage.

Source: Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide.

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