Temples and Trails of Shikoku

Temples and Trails of Shikoku

13 Days From


Temples and Trails of Shikoku

13 Days Starting in Osaka, Japan and ending in Kotohira Spa, Japan

Visiting: Osaka, Koyasan, Tokushima, Kamiyama, Miyoshi, Tsurugi, Kochi, Uchiko, Matsuyama, Kotohira

Tour operator:

Oku Japan

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 13

Physical rating:

Active Hiking Tour

Age range:


Special diets catered:

Contact us

Tour operated in:

Sightseeing, Walking


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NB: Prices correct on 22-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

The fourth-largest of Japan's islands, Shikoku is home to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail. Fascinating aspects of this deeply spiritual route include how little is known of its origins, and its mysterious connection with Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Pilgrims have walked the trails for 1200 years and even today we will see pilgrims in their distinctive attire and white cloaks throughout the island. Our tour selects the best of the walking trails through lovely landscapes. We visit all four of Shikoku's prefectures - Tokushima in the east, Kagawa in the north, Ehime in the west, and Kochi in the south. Each region has its own distinctive character, foods and scenery. In addition to the pilgrimage trail, our journey includes the remote Iya Valley, deep in the heart of Shikoku. We begin our journey with a stay on Mount Koya, the hilltop temple complex on Honshu established by Kobo Daishi, and an important location for Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage devotees.


  • Stay in monastery lodgings in the temple town of Mount Koya

  • Walk across a bridge of vines in the remote Iya Valley

  • Bathe in natural thermal waters at historic Dogo Onsen

  • Walk on the loveliest parts of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail

  • Eat wonderful local food in the Hirome Ichiba Market in Kochi city

  • Visit the beautiful hill-top castle in Matsuyama


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Day 1 : Meet In Osaka

Location: Osaka

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Dinner

Meet your guide and other group members at the hotel in Osaka in the evening. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2 : Travel To Mount Koya And Sightseeing

Location: Koyasan

Accommodation: Shukubo (Buddhist temple pilgrim's lodging)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

We travel by train along the scenic Nankai Railway Line to Mount Koya, a bowl-shaped valley filled with cedars high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. Mount Koya is the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, founded in 9th centurey by the monk Kobo Daishi, father of the Shikoku pilgrimage. Pilgrims on the Shikoku 88 Temple
route traditionally visit Mount Koya to pray and ask Kobo Daishi to bless their journey; we will follow the tradition. We stay in one of the elegant temples and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). We walk through the Okuno-in cemetery and see Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.

Day 3 : Travel To Tokushima And Walk Ryozenji Temple To Kosenji Temple

Location: Tokushima

Accommodation: Shukubo

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

We travel by private vehicle this morning to Wakayama port for the ferry to Tokushima Prefecture, the old Awa province, located in eastern Shikoku. We will walk through quiet suburban neighborhoods and visit the first three temples on the pilgrimage route - some of the prettiest on the whole island. The first temple, Ryozen-ji or Vulture Mountain Temple, was built in 8th century. Next comes Gokuraku-ji or Celestial Temple where Kobo Daishi completed 37 days of esoteric ritual at his age of 42. The atmospheric Konsen-ji, or Golden Fountain Temple, is home to a blood-red pagoda and bridge. After the walk, we will take a private vehicle to our Shukubo temple lodgings for the evening.

Walking distance: 6km / 3.7 miles

Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent

Day 4 : Walk From Fuji-Dera To Shosan-Ji

Location: Kamiyama

Accommodation: Minshuku (small family-run inn)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we will travel by private vehicle to Temple 11 Fujiidera, Temple of the Wisteria Well, situated at the foot of Mount Shosan-ji and surrounded by three mountains. We will walk a challenging trail known as 'henro-korogashi' through forests and over three peaks, one of the finest walks on the whole pilgrimage. The route takes us to an elevation of 900 metre (almost 3,000 feet), the highest point on the whole of our tour. Completing the three ascents is highly rewarding, and our goal, Shosanji, is a dramatic temple with spectacular valley views. For those preferring a shorter walk, the vehicle will deliver you half way along the trail to meet the rest of the group.The accommodation tonight is a small and comfortable Japanese inn nearby serviing lovely meals.

Walking distance: 11.9km / 7.4 miles

Elevation gain: 1230m /4035 feet ascent; 560m / 1870 feet descent

Time required: 5 hours

Day 5 : Walk From Kakurin-Ji To Tairyu-Ji Temple

Location: Miyoshi

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot springs inn)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Our private vehicle journey this morning brings us to Temple 20 Kakurin-ji or Crane Forest Temple on the 550 metre summit of Washigao. The temple's Sando or main approach is surrounded by tall pine and Hinoki cypress trees. Under an edict of Emperor Kanmu, Kobo Daishi founded Kakurin-ji in 799. From here we head up to Temple 21 Tairyu-ji, temple of the Mystical Dragon, close to the mountain peak of the same name at 618 metres. Kobo Daishi practised ascetic training here at his age of 19 and founded the temple in 793. Our walk ends with a cable car ride offering breathtaking views over a cedar forest and out towards the sea. We continue by vehicle to the central mountains. Tonight's accommodation is in the wonderful hot-spring location of Iya Onsen, deep in a hidden valley.

Walking distance: 7.1km / 4.4 miles

Elevation gain: 460m / 1510 feet ascent; 470m / 1540 feet descent

Time required: 2.5 hours

Day 6 : Walking Mount Tsurugi

Location: Tsurugi

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot springs ryokan)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, we board our private vehicle to visit the valley’s unique kazura-bashi vine bridge stretching 45 meters across the Iya River and suspended 15 metres above the flowing water. It is said the bridge was made by refugees of Heike Clan hiding in the area after their war defeat. We head to Tsrugi-san, the second highest peak in Shikoku with a height of 1,955 metres, nearly 6,500 feet. The peak is a centre of Shugendo, a Japanese folk religion based on mountain worship. We will take a chairlift to the start of a walk which will bring us to within an hour of the summit. From there, wooden boardwalks will lead us to various viewpoints with panoramic views over the surrounding mountains. We will return to our inn at Iya Onsen in the late afternoon for another soak in the thermal waters and our dinner of delightful local cuisine.

Walking distance: 4km / 2.5 miles

Elevation gain: 330m / 1320 feet ascent; 330m / 1320 feet descent

Time required: 1.5 hours

Day 7 : Travel To Kochi And Sightseeing

Location: Kochi

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we travel to Kochi city in Kochi Prefecture, formerly known as Tosa Province, the region of Shikoku most distant from Japan's mainland. It is the largest of Shikoku's prefectures but has the smallest population. We will visit Katsurahama Rocks, a unique formation beside the sea, then enjoy lunch at Hirome Ichiba Market in Kochi city center - a wonderful collection of over 60 shops with outstanding local produce. After lunch we will visit Temple 31 Chikurin-ji, the Bamboo Forest Temple, with its museum of temple treasures. The garden here was designed by the famous master monk of the Rinzai Sect called Muso Souseki and is famous througout Japan for its beauty. We will stay overnight in a comfortable hotel in Kochi city.

Day 8 : Sightseeing In Kochi And Uchiko And Onward Travel To Matsuyama

Location: Uchiko

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, we visit Kochi Castle and have a few hours free to stroll around the well-known Sunday market which has 300 years of history and 500 outdoor stalls. This amazing lively market stretches for over a kilometre (more than half a mile) from the entrance of Kochi Castle and offers local products at reasonable prices. After lunch we travel to Ehime Prefecture, previously known as Iyo Province, and stop en-route at the historic and beautiful town of Uchiko, which once flourished as a centre for traditional wax and paper. Our accommodation tonight is a hotel in appealing Matsuyama city, not far from Japan's oldest hot spring Dogo Onsen, said to have 3,000 years history. We are based here for the next three nights. In the evening your tour guide will be on hand to offer suggestions for restaurants for dinner.

Day 9 : Walk From Daihoji Temple To Iwayaji Temple

Location: Matsuyama

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Our journey today starts with the journey by private vehicle to the Kumakogen Highlands in central Ehime, near the border of Kochi Prefecture. We start our hike from Temple 44 Daihoji, Great Treasure Temple, a fitting halfway point on the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage.
We enjoy a beautiful forest hike to Temple 45, Rock Cavern-Housed Temple, a fascinating location on the mountain with hundreds of Jizo statues. The temple was one of the main sites where Kobo Daishi meditated after founding the temple in 805. A unique feature is the ladder up to a secluded cave where the monk would spend countless hours chanting. The coins attached to the cave wall show Kobo Daishi’s enduring influence. After the walk, we return by private vehicle to Matsuyama city in the late afternoon.

Walking distance: 11.7km / 7.3 miles

Elevation gain: 650m / 2130 feet ascent; 580m / 1900 feet decent

Time required: 4 hours

Day 10 : Sightseeing In Matsuyama

Location: Matsuyama

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

A relaxed day to explore Matsuyama city and Dogo Onsen by public transport. We will take a short ride on the tram/streetcar and enjoy a pleasant walk up to the iconic Matsuyama Castle on the hilltop which dominates the city. In the afternoon, we will take the tram/streetcar again to visit Temple 51 Ishiteji, Stone Hand Temple, with its unique legend. There are seven fascinating buildings at the temple and many of the temple treasures are designated important cultural assets. Afterwards, we will visit the atmospheric town of Dogo visiting Isaniwa Shrine and strolling through the old-fashioned main shopping arcades. In the late afternoon, we will return to our hotel in Matsuyama city.

Day 11 : Walk From Kokubunji Temple, To Shiromineji Temple And Then To Negoroji Temple

Location: Kotohira

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot springs Japanese inn)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

We travel by private vehicle to Temple 80 Awa Kokubunji, Awa State Provincial Temple, in Kagawa Prefecture, also known as the old Sanuki Province. The well-preserved structures at the temple and its building exude age and atmosphere. We ascend to Temple 81 Shiromine-ji, White Peak Temple, situated at the summit of Mount Shiromine. We will then walk down to Temple 82 Negoro-ji, Fragrant Root Temple, with its beautiful lanterns tucked away deep inside the heart of the complex. We will then head to Kotohira Spa by private vehicle, a small town in Kagawa famous for Konpirasan, the large shinto shrine complex dedicated to sailors and seafaring. Our accommodation tonight is a delightful hot-spring Ryokan in the town.

Walking distance: 13.5 km /8.4 miles

Elevation gain: 655m / 2150 feet ascent; 335m / 1100 feet decent

Time required: 4.5 hours

Day 12 : Kotohira

Location: Kotohira

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot springs inn)

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, we will set out for our final walk on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage from Temple 87 Nagao-ji, Long Slope Temple, to Temple 88 Okubo-ji, Great Hollow Temple - Completion of the Vow. A wish made here will be fulfilled! This temple is located on a hidden mountain summit. The walk passes through lovely rural scenery before ascending Nyotai-san Mountain to Okubo-ji. We will share a great sense of achievement together and then travel by private vehicle back to our accommodation for another soak in the onsen spa and a delightful kaiseki meal to celebrate our final evening.

Walking distance: 12.3 km / 7.6 miles
Elevation gain: 774m / 2539 feet ascent; 410m / 1345 feet decent

Time required: 4.5 hours

Day 13 : Tour Ends

Location: Kotohira

Meals Included: Breakfast

The tour ends today after breakfast. Your guide will be on hand to offer assistance and advice for travelling to the airport if you have homeward flights, or on onward travel in Japan if you are extending your stay.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    12 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan, Minshuku and Shukubo)

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

    All transportation between tour locations

  • Entrance Fees

    Entrance to museums, temples and other sights on the group's itinerary

  • Fully Guided

    Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide

  • Local Taxes

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

    Daily breakfast & 9 dinners

  • Forwarding of one item of luggage

What's Not Included

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • Country Entry Visas

  • Drinks with Meals

  • Entrance Fees

    Entrance fees to museums, temples etc.

    not mentioned in the itinerary

  • Meals – Full Board

    Does not include lunches or dinners not listed as included.

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels

Check out our Q&As

  • What happens if a group doesn’t make its minimum required number of passengers?

    Please refer to our booking terms and conditions.

  • Is there a limit to luggage that can be brought on the tour?

    The daypacks will be carried by the guest on the walking sections so we do recommend a backpack. Please note that only we include the baggage delivery for one bag or suitcase per person. Extra bags may be sent subject to a charge payable locally for each transfer. The suitcase should weigh no more than 30–35 lbs. at time of departure. The total dimensions of the bag when you add the bag’s external

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    Our active tours generally have dedicated days of trail walking, with some days of over four hours and with some ascent and/or descent. We recommend active tours for anyone who does regular walking or hiking and is comfortable to walk for up to a full day with some climbing and descending. If you do not exercise regularly, then you should undertake a program of walking to prepare.

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes, please contact our team for rates and availability.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?


  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    All travellers get our Preparing for your Trip and Travelling in Japan documents, as well as a detailed personalized itinerary. Those travelling on one of our self-guided tours receive our bespoke topographical maps and walking instructions.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?


  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    For our small-group guided tours, if you would like to share with another traveler we will seek to match you up. If we are successful then you need not pay the solo supplement.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?


  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Since 2005

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    Our travellers are typically English speakers from around the world. On our small-group guided tours, you travel in the company of one of our professional local guides.

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    As per our booking terms and conditions, change fees would apply. If you have to change your dates due to the prevailing entry requirements for Japan please contact us and we would be happy to work with you to change your dates without charge.

Reviews of this operator

Jan-Christoph Daniel (Google Reviewer)  

We were hiking parts of...


We were hiking parts of the Kumano Kodō (Kiiji & Nakahechi route) in December 2023 and booked a self-guided tour through Oku Japan. This was an excellent decision. They are reliable experts in off-the-beaten-tracks and pioneered the idea of self-guided hikes in Japan. In particular we liked that Oku Japan works with local communities, so we experienced true Japanese hospitality. A big thank you for a fantastic experience of the ancient Kumano Kodō – especially to Alessia!

Jackie Berkley (Google Reviewer)  

We absolutely loved all aspects...


We absolutely loved all aspects of the Oku tour. We selected the self-guided Nakasendo trail 5 day tour and it was fabulous. Oku set us up for success and incredible memories. We especially appreciated their advance support and answering all of our questions.

Janna Phillips (Google Reviewer)  

We did the Ancient Capitals...


We did the Ancient Capitals tour in November and it was fantastic! It was beautiful strolling through the countryside, forests, and farmlands. It took us to places that we would never have thought of, but enjoyed immensely. We loved chatting with locals and going on what felt like an amazing treasure hunt.

Neil Galletly (Google Reviewer)  

OKU Japan provided a memorable...


OKU Japan provided a memorable experience for our Nakasendo Trail self guided walk in April 2024. Everything from booking to the actual walking, dining, accomodation, onsen'ing went very smoothly.

Philip Payne (Google Reviewer)  

We did a self guided...


We did a self guided tour with Oku Japan and had an excellent time. The planning and materials provided by Oku Japan were very good and made it very easy to get around (we did not get lost at all). The accommodation was excellent (Japanese style local hotels). The meals included were truly amazing - could not ask for more. The included bookings on trains, taxis etc all worked like clock work. We were very happy with the tour and will hope to do another tour with Oku Japan in the future.

Rick Nelson (Google Reviewer)  

A very knowledgeable and helpful...


A very knowledgeable and helpful partner in organizing some of the most beautiful hiking trips we’ve walked. We booked 3 self-guided hiking trips (Nakasendo, Shikoku, Kumano Kodo) with them, and although we were pretty late they made all of them possible. The preparation went really smooth and we. Had the feeling we we’re ready for each walk. Everything was arranged really well and they were available for support when needed. The trips were gorgeous and combined breathtaking scenery with rural towns and comforting stays. They make sure you get to experience a bit of everything. Highly recommended, we can’t wait to book our next trips. Thanks

Kari Black (Google Reviewer)  

If you are looking for...


If you are looking for a self-guided walking tour in Japan - OKU is the resource you have been waiting for. Lovely, personal and timely communication.

Jamie Stronge (Google Reviewer)  

Absolutely brilliant trip. Seamlessly organised...


Absolutely brilliant trip. Seamlessly organised with very clear and concise maps/instructions. Got to see a side of Japan that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Clear communication throughout and an amazingly helpful and supportive local team who helped us when we wanted to change our plans and reduce the amount of luggage we were carrying.

Meredith Woinarski (Google Reviewer)  

My recent self-guided Kumano Kodo...


My recent self-guided Kumano Kodo hike was sensational. This is a great way to discover a quieter side of Japan and its culture. Oku Japan provided very clear instructions that included travel connections, accomodation, walking directions, maps etc in paper and digital formats which gave me confidence travelling on my own in a new country. The choice and quality of accomodation was outstanding with hosts providing superb meals. I cannot rate Oku Japan service and quality high enough. Thankyou for making my experience in Japan a memorable one.

Christopher Lavender (Google Reviewer)  

Our self guided walk on...


Our self guided walk on the Kumano Kodo was a great success and only involved two rainy days. The directions were generally accurate (with occasional ambiguity) and the B&Bs were all adequate and in some cases much more than adequate. It was a very pleasant introduction to Japanese culture and food - most of which was delicious and beautifully presented. The Hotel in Osaka was perfectly positioned (Marriott Courtyard at Shing Osaka Station). I think the grading of the walk was quite difficult, especially the last day, with ascents and descents over 800m - as it was also pouring with rain we chose to omit that day due to the danger of slipping and injuring ourselves on the downward journey. There were also leeches - which perhaps should have been mentioned in the notes. The Urashima Hotel in Kii-Katsuura was quite bizarre - a James Bond Peninsula for mass tourism - but an amazing experience on our last night ! The Takkyubin service was superb as was the advice and help we received in the OKU office in Chikatsuyu. We will certainly think of returning to Japan with OKU - and will recommend OKU to our friends. Thank you .

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  • Low Deposit

    Oku Japan requires a minimum deposit of 20% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of oku japan charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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