Shikoku (四国), meaning "four kingdoms," comprises four prefectures: Tokushima, Kōchi, Ehime, and Kagawa. Shikoku is known for its distinctive landscape – rugged mountains running east and west divide the island, with the southern part facing the Pacific Ocean. Pockets of satoyama (里山), farm communities interwoven with the forests around them, are scattered around the mountains and valleys of Shikoku. Shikoku is also famous for its wide variety of citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes.
The Shikoku Pilgrimage, with its long history and great significance, is deeply engrained in the culture of the island. For the locals, providing help or gifts to a pilgrim is a customary way to accumulate good will and to vicariously participate in the pilgrim's journey. The pilgrimage is also one of the few circular-shaped pilgrimages in the world. To complete the full pilgrimage in order, one would begin from the first temple, travel to all 88 temples, and finally end their journey at the first temple. However, it is not always necessary to visit the temples in order. Gyaku-uchi (逆打ち) is the way of completing the pilgrimage in reverse order, and is highly revered due to its increased difficulty. Although the pilgrimage is traditionally completed on foot, which takes around 30 to 60 days, modern means of transportation have become much more common today.
This website is dedicated to those interested in learning more about the Shikoku Pilgrimage, and provides useful information to primarily walking pilgrims. If you are already on the go, you may find this comprehensive interactive map helpful for planning ahead.