Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shikoku, Japan

Executive summary by darmansjah

Mountain-ringed Shikoku—the smallest and least visited of Japan’s four main islands—is best known for its "walk of life," the 88-Buddhist-temple pilgrimage retracing the footsteps of the eighth-century monk and scholar Kōbō Daishi. Completing the 745-mile-plus (1,200-kilometer-plus) island-wide circuit on foot is an intense physical and spiritual workout that can take a month or more.

Save time—and your knees—by covering the steep route via bus and riding the train up Mount Koya, the pilgrimage’s traditional start and end point. Many Shikoku temples offer basic lodging for visiting pilgrims or o-henro-san. Affordable, traditional accommodations also are available at Shikoku’s rustic to luxurious ryokans, traditional, tatami mat Japanese guest houses. The island’s upscale Yamatoyabesso ryokan is located in Dogo Onsen, an ancient hot springs area welcoming nobility and artists to its therapeutic waters since the sixth century. Shikoku remains a thriving folk art center for weavers, washi (paper) makers, and candle makers.

Pictured here: Traditional Jizo statues dressed in red bibs at a Mount Koya cemetery

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