KIKUSUI HENRO HOUSEIntroduction to Shikoku Henro - How to do itby Hiroshi Kushima
(translated by David C. Moreton)

There are numerous guidebooks for those who wish to travel by car or bus around the pilgrimage route and since I do not have any experience in doing the pilgrimage in these ways, I will not talk them here.

[Tooshi-uchi] (doing the entire pilgrimage at one time) vs [Kugiri-uchi] (doing the pilgrimage in segments)

The usual walking distance for one day is 30-40 kilometers. Marathon athletes run 40km in two hours, however, this is only for one day and they can only do this because they are not carrying any gear. However, for the pilgrimage, one must carry at least 4-5 kilometers of gear. If one walks 4km per hour and that number is multiplied by 10 hours, then the result is 40kms per day. However, in the city if one walks fast it is possible to walk 6km/h, but since one has to continually carry such a pack such a quick pace cannot be maintained for long periods of time. Thus, 40km a day pace seems possible, but there are mountain paths and rainy paths which might slow one down. So, in order to walk the entire 1, 200km Shikoku pilgrimage route, it will take at least 32 days for someone in very good condition and around 40 days for someone in average condition.

What can be done for those who cannot take such a long break away from their regular lifestyle? People, like myself, who are full-time employees cannot take long holidays, other than for sick leave. Thus for such people, there is the option of breaking the pilgrimage route into segments and walking a segment at a time. For my first segment I decided to walk from Temples 1 to 23 in Tokushima prefecture and this, I estimated, would take about one week and by taking time off during May (Golden Week), August (Obon) or the end of the year, I could easily achieve this goal. My second segment began at the temple that I finished at during the previous trip. At times, when I had to fill in the gap between temples, I restarted from the station from which I took a bus or train. Thus, although this becomes a quasi-pilgrimage I was able to complete the pilgrimage by walking all the way.

For people such as retired couples or students who have time off during summer vacation, it is possible to do the entire pilgrimage at one time. This is called, tooshi-uchi. On the other hand, walking the pilgrimage in segments is called kugiri-uchi. Of course, tooshi-uchi is the ideal method, however kugiri-uchi is better done by walking than not. And even though one might think I will walk the entire pilgrimage when I retire and have time, but by that time you might be physically fit to do so. I believe that one should walk while one is able to.


Most walking pilgrims stay at such places as temples, minshukus or business hotels. The numbers of henroyado (pilgrims lodging facilities) which have been around since olden times are decreasing, but amongst the minshukus there are some places which maintain the kind of atmosphere seen at henroyado. The cost for a one night stay and two meals is 5,500 yen at a temple, and around 6,000-6,500yen for a minshuku. Thus, the total cost of accommodation for 40-nights will be around 250,000yen.

There are some pilgrims who choose to sleep outdoors and for such people there are various places such as unmanned temple huts and bus stop huts where one can use to stay the night. It is tough not being able to have a bath despite being soaked in sweat and having to carry a sleeping bag and mat. However those who decide to do the pilgrimage by sleeping outdoors do so not only to save money, but in order to participate in a higher form of ascetic training. There are some who compromise by sleeping outdoors for two nights and staying at paid accommodation every third night and having a bath.

It is difficult to find appropriate places for walking pilgrims at stay in tourist guidebooks, but the book, Shikoku Henro Hitori Aruki Dogyo Ninin published by the Pilgrim Path Preservation Cooperative Association contains a detailed map and a comprehensive chart listing over 1000 lodging facilities. No matter what method one takes to do the pilgrimage, this is clearly the best book for walking pilgrims to use.

(translated by David C. Moreton)

TOP Copyright (C)1999-2002 Hiroshi Kushima / (C)2004 David C. Moreton