This tour is the first part of a 1,400-kilometre prayer journey to 88 temples to reflect on the footsteps and teachings of Kobo-Daishi, who renounced worldly desires in his quest for ‘enlightenment’.
About 1,200 years ago, Kobo-Daishi, a pessimist and deeply troubled man, began his pilgrimage in search of a chance to change his life. Through solitary time, physical exertion and dialogue with himself, he realised that what he was facing was not material, but a highly spiritual existence, and was struck by a strange feeling that what he was seeing was part of himself and vice versa in the face of beautiful nature. From there, he begins his exploration of ‘enlightenment’.
Shikoku Henro, the most famous pilgrimage route in Japan, consists of four training halls (Dojos), and this tour is the first part of the Awakening Dojo, an 8-day/7-night tour.
488,000 yen ～
We will meet at the hotel in front of JR Tokushima Station at 4:00 pm. A direct limousine bus runs to Tokushima Station every hour from Tokushima Airport, and the trip takes about 30 minutes. If you arrive early, you can check in at the hotel first.
After gathering, we will move to the venue for the welcome party. The first part of the tour will be an explanation of the Shikoku pilgrimage and notes on the trip, as well as self-introductions by the participants, followed by the welcome party at a Japanese-style pub. This is a great opportunity for the guides, staff, and participants to get to know each other and build anticipation for the trip.
The historic Shikoku pilgrimage began 1,200 years ago. The first stop is a cruise ship, reminiscing about a time when there were no bridges or roads, and ferryboats were widely used. After disembarking from the cruise at the waterside park near Temple No. 1, we will transfer to an ebike and head for the first temple.
At the first temple, you will be provided with the necessary goods for the pilgrimage, guided through the facilities of the temple, and carefully guided through the customs of the pilgrimage.
After lunch, we will continue our pilgrimage, visiting temples 2₋6 while listening to their teachings and legends, and stay overnight at Anrakuji Shukubo on this day.
The third day is a day of deep study of the teachings of Kobo Daishi. At the lodgings where we stayed, we will experience meditation and shadai and listen to the abbot’s sermon.
In the afternoon, we will travel by ebike to the 13th temple, Dainichiji, which is right in front of the shrine, to hear the unique roots of the abbot speak about the inclusiveness of the Shikoku pilgrimage. The tour will explore the Japanese view of religion and the Japanese mind, which is based on this view, through the priest’s roots in Japan, Korea, and the U.S., and the idea of Shinto/Buddhist syncretism, where the Ichinomiya Shrine across the street used to be the destination of the pilgrimage.
The training path is an indispensable part of the pilgrimage. The mountain climb up from the 11th to 12th foothills, also called henro-korogashi, is the first difficult part of the Shikoku pilgrimage.
During the 6-hour mountain climb with the guide, you will reflect on the life of Kobo Daishi and the reasons why he began his pilgrimage to Shikoku.
The tour will provide water and refreshments, and a support vehicle will accompany you, so you can challenge the ascending route with peace of mind.
In the evening, we will stay at the same hot spring hotel as the previous day and rest our bodies for the day.
On this day, we will depart late in the morning, still tired from the previous day, and travel by private car to Kamikatsu Town to experience the concept of Kamikatsu Town, which aims to achieve zero waste. We will learn from the teachings of Kobo-Daishi, who felt that “I am part of nature and nature is also part of me” when he attained enlightenment, and from the Japanese mind, which has its roots in the ancient Japanese Shinto belief that all things are endowed with a deity.
Participants can choose between a homestay in a Japanese village or a hot spring hotel that embodies the concept of sustainability.
We will continue to experience the Japanese satoyama in Kamiyama-cho. Participants will experience seasonal farming and house work, and learn about the sustainable wisdom and ingenuity of the traditional Japanese way of life. Experiencing the Japanese way of life, which has a different view of nature from that of the West, will provide an opportunity to be initiated into the concepts of Buddhism and Shintoism, which form the basis of the Japanese way of life.
Weather permitting. We will also enjoy Satoyama Ebike tours and indoor activities.
Once again, we boarded the ebike and continued on our pilgrimage. The highlight of the day is the 21st temple, Tairyuji. We will take the ropeway to the temple, which is considered the most beautiful temple in the Dojo of Hatsushin. The course along the Nagawa River on the way is also the most beautiful cycling road in this tour itinerary.
After the tour, we will stop at a roadside station and a supermarket for souvenirs, and then relax at a hot spring hotel for the last night of the tour.
Take the Ebike down to Yakuoji Temple, the last temple in the Dojo of Hatsushin. The temple’s symbol, the Yugi Pagoda, represents the scriptures of Kobo Daishi. We will take time to enjoy it with our guide and reflect on its meaning as we reflect on our study at the Dojo of Hatsushin.
We will then disband at Wasa Station, where there is a souvenir shop, in time for the train to Tokushima. Those who wish may take a bath in the Yakuoji hot spring.