Follow the pilgrims
Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's five main islands, is a hidden gem of history and spirituality.
Located south of Honshu, Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s five main islands after Okinawa. Historically isolated from the mainland, Shikoku developed unique architectural and religious characteristics. It can be felt all around the island from the hidden Iya valley to the sacred peak of Ishizuchi Mountain, to the whirlpools of Naruto, and the bustling castle town of Matsuyama and its celebrated Dogo Onsen.
Shikoku has four prefectures: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima City is one of Japan’s most famous dance festivals. At the same time, sunny Naoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture is a curious collection of modern art museums and funky architecture.
Riding the Shimanami Kaido
Like the rest of Japan, each of Shikoku’s prefectures has its own local cuisine. Kagawa has chewy sanuki udon, while Tokushima ramen is heavy, flavorful, and topped with a raw egg. There is fresh bonito in Kochi, and Shikoku is also a top producer of citrus. Make sure you add a premium mandarin orange, sudachi, or yuzu into your hiking picnic before you head out.
88 Temple Pilgrimage
Shikoku is most famous for its 88 Temple Pilgrimage, a 1400 kilometer route established by Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. The pilgrimage circles through sweeping valleys, past tranquil streams, and secret rural communities, up to misty mountaintop shrines and self-realization. Although modern pilgrims can travel the route by bus, it’s worth making at least some of the journey on foot to really experience what Shikoku has to offer.
Discover Shikoku with the links below!