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: $5995  
Length: 11 days
Arrive: Osaka, Japan
Depart: Osaka, Japan
Lodging: 9 nights hotels, inns, and ryokans, 1 night 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


  • 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”
  • Matsuyama-jo, one 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.


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. You’ll follow trails between venerated temples, climb one of Shikoku’s 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.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Osaka / Koyasan Monastery / Temple Hikes

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 Ryozen-ji, the first temple on the pilgrim circuit. On these initial days of our journey, we’ll visit a temple where pilgrims touch a tree supposedly planted by Kobo Daishi, in the hope for a long life, and Kakurin-ji, a mountain temple set 1,500 feet above the sea.

Days 5-8
Iya Valley / Matsuyama / Dogo Onsen

In the Iya Valley, with its high peaks and deep gorges, our hike brings you up sacred Tsurugi-san (6,412'), a peak shrouded in mystery and legend. After a visit to the famed Taga-jinja Fertility Shrine, hike to Iwaya-ji Temple, perched on a cliffside above the valley floor. In Matsuyama, explore Matsuyama-jo, a castle with bird’s-eye views of the Seto Inland Sea, and soak in Matsuyama’s ancient Dogo Onsen hot springs.

Days 9-11

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 11 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



Oct 16-26, 2016
Oct 15-25, 2017

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$5995 (11-12 members)
$6395 (9-10 members)
$6795 (7-8 members)
Single supplement: $750
Forced single supplement: $550
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations in comfortable hotels and inns
  • 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.).

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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Ekoin Temple

Ekoin Temple

Day 2 (1 night), Wakayama-ken, Japan

Set amid peaceful gardens and exuding a magical atmosphere, this beautiful temple with Japanese-style guestrooms offers a unique experience of ...
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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 Iya Onsen

Hotel Iya Onsen

Days 4 to 5 (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 6 (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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Funaya Ryokan

Funaya Ryokan

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Matsuyama, Japan

Set in a peaceful garden surrounded by tranquil ponds and lush landscaping, the beautiful Funaya Ryokan in Matsuyama is located just steps away from ...
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Kotohira Spa Kotosankaku

Kotohira Spa Kotosankaku

Day 9 (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 10 (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.

Michiharu Namba

For the past 10 years, Michiharu Namba has worked in the travel industry as a tour leader, guiding trips through Africa, Europe, and Asia. Yet his interest in Japanese history, culture, art, and literature—paired with his love for hiking—led him back to his home country of Japan to lead trips to iconic settings like Mt. Fuji and Mt. Hiei. When not leading trips, Michiharu enjoys exploring new places in Japan by foot and spends time in his hometown of Nishinomiya City.

Upcoming Trips: TBA

Past Trips:

Hiker's Journey to Shikoku, October 13-25, 2015