Trek from monastery to monastery: the way of the 88 temples
> Difficulty: difficult
> Suggested season: May to September
> Average duration: 50 to 70 days
> Total distance: 1,130 km
The way of the 88 temples is a pilgrimage route which here, in the land of the rising sun, has the same spiritual importance as the Santiago de Compostela routes in Europe. This trail, popular with both Japanese and foreign hikers, encircles the island of Shikoku, following in the footsteps of the Buddhist monk Kūkai.It's time for an in-depth exploration of traditional, rural Japan.
Although the 88 temple pilgrimage is very popular in Japan, very few people complete the trail on foot. Which is lucky for you as you'll get to enjoy beautiful views of the countryside without encountering huge crowds. Except as you approach the temples, of course! It is traditional for pilgrims to dress in white with a sedge hat and staff.
Traditionally, the trek starts with a visit to Mount Koya temple located in the extreme south of the island of Shikoku. This is where Kukai, the monk who visited the 88 temples during the 18th century, is buried.
This trek is aimed at long-distance hikers who wish to walk for several weeks, following a route that extends over 1,000 kilometres.Generally speaking, it takes two months to walk the entire circuit. If you want to stop off at all the temples, you will have to factor in extra time to climb to the sites, in addition to the total duration of the trail. En route, you can bivouac, stay in temples, in hotels or traditional accommodation such as minshukus or ryokans.