What to Expect
Pilgrims are said to follow in the footsteps of Kobo Daishi, the person credited with starting the pilgrimage in the ninth century. It is said that by visiting some or all of these temples, especially on foot, your worldly desires will gradually dissipate and reduce the frustrations of everyday life as you become fully aware of your true self. The pilgrimage is about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) and circles the island. Since the route is a loop, there is no official starting point, although many people choose to begin at Ryozen-ji (also known as Temple Number One).
The starting point of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, Ryozen-ji has an impressive main hall, a Shingon-style pagoda, a carp pond, and waterfall.It sells white robes, woven hats, walking sticks and other supplies that pilgrims may require. Gokuraku-ji is the second temple visited on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Famous sights inside the Temple complex include a beautiful Japanese garden built to evoke the Pure Land (Buddhist heaven), a Buddha statue praying to which is believed to ensure safe and trouble-free childbirth, and the Cedar of Longevity, which is said to have been planted by Kobo Daishi. Ooasahiko-jinja is the Number One Shrine in Awa (Tokushima's pre-modern domain) which is known for its beautiful Torii Gate and 1000-year old camphor tree.