Hiker's Journey to Shikoku

Across a Sacred Temple Route In the Footsteps of Kobo Daishi

Hiker's Journey to Shikoku route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6095  
Length: 13 days
Arrive: Osaka, Japan
Depart: Osaka, Japan
Lodging: 11 nights hotels, inns, and ryokans, 1 nigt temple lodging
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: Easy to moderate hikes, 2-5 hours a day on hiking days, walking tours, many temple stairs
3

Highlights

  • Day hikes to the legendary temples of Shikoku
  • Explore the traditional Iya Valley, with its thatched houses and vine bridges
  • Meet pilgrims and hikers, sample Shikoku’s delicious fresh seafood with elusive umami—the “fifth taste”
  • Kochi Castle and Matsuyama-jo, two of the most famous original castles in Japan

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

For 1,200 years, o-henro-san (pilgrims) have walked the 88-temple pilgrimage route across Shikoku Island, following in the footsteps of the great 8th century Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi. We’ve selected the most beautiful temples—and hikes—to create a captivating journey across this legendary isle, with our Trip Leader who literally wrote the book on hiking in Japan. You’ll follow trails between venerated temples, climb Shikoku’s two highest peaks, and discover the remote Iya Valley, a vestige of old Japan with its kazura-bashi (vine bridges) and 300-year-old thatched farmhouses. Cultural adventures abound as well, from a soak in the thousand-year-old Dogo Onsen (hot spring) to stays at a temple lodging and a family-run ryokan in the mountains. Along the way you’ll sample Shikoku’s regional cuisine, including its renowned udon and sakes, and have the chance to meet Japanese pilgrims from all walks of life.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-5
Osaka / Koyasan Monastery / Temple Hikes / Kochi

Our journey begins at historic Koyasan, the monastery where Kobo Daishi is buried. Pilgrims traditionally come here to ask for his “support” before starting their hikes and we’ll do the same. After getting our pilgrim’s “passport” (at each temple we get a red lacquer stamp), we head to Shikoku by boat, the time-honored way, to begin our pilgrimage at Temple 1. Following mountain paths leading between lovely small temples, we make a wide arc around Tosa Bay, including a visit to a “lucky” temple where pilgrims pray for good fortune.

Days 6-10
Iya Valley / Matsuyama / Dogo Onsen / Ishizuchi

In the Iya Valley, with its high peaks and deep gorges, our hike brings you up sacred Tsurugi-san, a peak shrouded in mystery and legend. After a visit to the famed Taga-jinja Fertility Shrine, we hike to cliff-perched Iwaya-ji Temple, soak in Matsuyama’s ancient Dogo Onsen hot baths, then take the cable car partway up Ishizuchi-san (6,503’), the “roof of Shikoku,” for an optional hike to its airy summit.

Days 11-13
Takamatsu

At Zentsu-ji Temple, where Kobo Daishi was born, you’ll walk through an underground tunnel that pilgrims must “feel” their way through, then climb the 1,368 steps to the shrines of Kompira-san. Our final stop is Okubo-ji, the last temple on the pilgrimage trail, with an overnight on Awaji Island, the legendary place where Japan was formed from a drop of saltwater from the spear of a god. Depart on Day 13 via Osaka.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 3, Easy to Moderate according to our trip grading system. Our activities center on exploring cultural sites and mingling with the local people. Road travel on some days is long. Our day hikes are moderate and suitable for people in good shape who enjoy mountain hiking. The longest hike is about four hours. Although you carry only a daypack, there are some steep ascents and descents, and the hikes are at moderate altitude, which can make them feel strenuous. As with any hiking trip, you should have good wet-weather gear. Because our trip is in October, we have a good chance of enjoying the colors of Japan’s famous autumn foliage.

For your own enjoyment, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily brisk walking is an excellent preparatory exercise. Hiking poles are not necessary, although some people like to use them. Driving and hiking times are noted, but on first departures, and with full groups, these can vary, sometimes dramatically, from the anticipated times. Road conditions and the group’s level of fitness also affect the travel and hiking times.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Oct 13-25, 2014  Craig McLachlan
2015
Oct 13-25, 2015  Craig McLachlan

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$6095 (11-12 members)
$6495 (9-10 members)
$6895 (7-8 members)
Single supplement: $750
Forced single supplement: $550
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations in comfortable hotels
  • All meals included
  • Entrance fees for museums and sites as part of the itinerary
  • All ground transportation including chairlifts as needed

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, airport transfers, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, optional gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport

Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport

Day 1 (1 night), Osaka, Japan

This hotel couldn’t be more convenient for travelers transiting Osaka—it’s located just a short walk from the passenger terminal ...
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Rengejo-in Monastery

Rengejo-in Monastery

Day 2 (1 night), Koyasan, Japan

With its lovely gardens, this traditional Buddhist temple perched on a mountaintop offers Japanese-style guest rooms in a serene setting—a ...
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Hotel Clement Tokushima

Hotel Clement Tokushima

Day 3 (1 night), Tokushima, Japan

The Clement is in the center of Tokushima, within walking distance of many shops and dining spots.
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Hotel Akenohoshi

Hotel Akenohoshi

Day 4 (1 night), Muroto-Misaki, Japan

Located on a hill on the southern tip of Cape Muroto, the Akenohoshi offers comfortable rooms and great sunrise views over the Pacific.
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Hotel Iya Onsen

Hotel Iya Onsen

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Iya Valley, Japan

The views of the Iya Valley are absolutely jaw-dropping from this secluded hotel, which has the traditional feel of a ryokan with modern touches ...
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Shimanto Iyashi No Sato

Shimanto Iyashi No Sato

Day 7 (1 night), Shimanto River Area, Japan

Scenically set in the hills above the Shimanto River,  this Japanese-style onsen lodge is one of our best finds. It’s always a pleasure ...
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Hotel Tsubakikan

Hotel Tsubakikan

Days 8 to 10 (3 nights), Matsumaya, Japan

We stay in Western-style rooms at this onsen hotel that’s close to the famed Dogo Onsen and an easy streetcar ride to downtown Matsuyama. ...
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Kotohira Spa Kotosankaku

Kotohira Spa Kotosankaku

Day 11 (1 night), Takamatsu, Japan

This onsen hotel is a great introduction to Japanese style accommodations and has many nice features, including a rooftop pool, a variety ...
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Yumekaiyu Awajishima

Yumekaiyu Awajishima

Day 12 (1 night), Awaji Island, Japan

This large hotel on Awaji Island, right on the beach, is a pleasant place to overnight before heading back to Osaka and our flights home. Facilities ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Craig McLachlan

Craig McLachlan, a lifetime adventurer, writer, trip leader, and photographer, hails from New Zealand but has been connected to Japan for more than 30 years. He’s the ultimate guide for the Japanese Alps and Shikoku, having climbed the 100 Famous Mountains, walked the 88 Temples of Shikoku Pilgrimage, and hiked from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific, climbing all 21 of Japan’s 3,000-meter peaks along the way (2000 miles in 99 days!). With a degree in Management Studies and Japanese from Auckland University, Craig earned his MBA from the University of Hawaii. In 1997, Craig approached Lonely Planet about writing a Hiking in Japan guidebook, and has authored 10 titles since, covering everything from the Greek Islands to the South Pacific. In winter, Craig leads hiking tours for Japanese visitors to New Zealand, and in summer, he brings hiking groups to Japan. Craig met and married his Japanese wife, Yuriko, in New Zealand in 1990, and they divide their time between the two island nations. Craig holds a 4th Dan Black Belt in Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate. “In Japan you don’t have to go looking for a cultural experience…it’s all around, ready for you to soak it in. I want my trip members to see ‘the real Japan’ and the only way to do that is to get beyond the ‘public face’ so we can see the ‘private face’ of the Japanese that few visitors get to see.”

Upcoming Trips:

Hiker's Japan, September 29-October 11, 2014
Hiker's Journey to Shikoku, October 13-25, 2014
Hiker's Japan, September 27-October 9, 2015
Hiker's Journey to Shikoku, October 13-25, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Craig was great. He was efficient, sensitive to the individual needs of his group participants, and at the same time an easy-going fellow who made a great travel companion. Marc N., Washington, DC
Japan: Shikoku Island
Craig's enthusiasm, attention to detail, and concern for each member of the group were notable plusses. Julien L., Washington, DC
Japan: Shikoku Island
Craig was cheerful, enthusiastic—a good leader as well as traveling companion. His knowledge of the country and language was immensely helpful. Martha G., Cambridge, MA
Temples, Treasures and Teahouses