近海る (Kin Kairu)

JET, Japan, Journalism and other J words

Archive for the category “Shikoku Pilgrimage”

The Shikoku Pilgrimage, My Time on JET, and Uncanny Similarities

Shikoku 88 Temple Completion Certificate

Shikoku 88 Temple Completion Certificate

The circle has connected. I’ve finally completed it. After 1,200 kilometers, a book containing $264 worth of ink, and three years, I have finished the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. I am not the first, and certainly not the last, but I can now say that I’m part of the club.

It’s very strange to think it’s over. The pilgrimage was always something that sort of hung over me; A conversation point friends and colleagues who would ask about it before long vacations. Now that feeling of “unfinished business” is gone, which in my lifetime having such business is still rare.

As I show my completion certificates to my friends, students, and coworkers, I’m happy they express their amazement and congratulations. They do seem genuinely happy for me. But when people ask “how was it?” I find myself at a loss. How can I really encapsulate everything that I experienced? Do those pieces of paper really project everything I learned along the way? Is there really any way I can truly express those lessons? In the end will anyone really care?

It was through this thinking I found an uncanny parallel between the pilgrimage, and my three years here on JET.

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The Informational Shikoku Pilgrimage Post: Kagawa Prefecture

In tune with some of my past posts regarding my pilgrimage hike, I’m going to have at least one here with the straight-to-the-point details about where I stayed, my recommendations, and relevant anecdotes. This will focus on the last section of the trail: Kagawa Prefecture.

Day 1: Temple 65 (Sankakuji)

The hour and a half ride express train ride from Tokushima station to Iyo-Mishima, the closest to Temple 65, costs roughly 6000 yen. Not bad considering the 10,000 yen ticket I had to pay to get to the area around Temple 40. The hike up to Sankakuji was fine, but the 19 km walk towards 66 afterwards took a lot longer than I expected. I would also not recommend doing both 65 and 66 in one day, as 66 is the highest mountain on the trail! You will be pooped. I stayed at a business hotel a couple of kilometers west of 66 in Miyoshi city. The area has plenty of convenience stores and other lodging as well, so I think going a little bit farther and backtracking the next day is worth it. The city is also fairly close to Bangai #15 if you are also visiting those.

Stay: Awa-Ikeda Business Hotel
Phone: 0883-72-1010
Price: ~4500 yen (no meals)
Type: Single bed
Impression: Alright place to stay, though my room smelled a little bit like smoke.

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Shikoku Pilgrimage: Ehime

Quick note: you may be wondering why I mention the New Years holiday a lot in this post, even though I’m publishing it in late April. Not only did life catch up to me shortly after I finished walking the Ehime prefecture section of the trail, but I was also debating on how to actually write about my experience this time. Before I knew it, it had became April, and I am actually in the midst of preparing for walking the final section during Golden Week! So I came back to this post and decided to stop being an editorial wuss and just publish it. Most of what I’ve written below is exactly what I wrote back in January, with some added bits. I think I will go in more detail about the trip as a whole once I’ve finished it entirely.

As I write about the next section of the Shikoku trail, I find it harder and harder to elaborate on a day to day scale. Writing about the minute-to-minute details, from catching buses to walking hours, it all seems a bit…tedious; Information and tidbits that are, in the long run, unnecessary regarding the trip as a whole. While I am writing this quite after the fact, I can still remember all those minor details, but they become duller every time I scribe. Much like the photography I have been sharing, I slimmed it down to the best parts, and show what actually stood out to me as opposed to a reaction to every temple I went to. I figure I should probably try doing the same here.

I’ll still do the usual and give information regarding where I stayed and other minor points of interest for any future pilgrim. But this will absolutely be a more condensed version of a travelogue compared to my earlier stints.

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Shikoku Pilgrimage: A Note on Kochi

I’m going to be writing up about my latest trip to Ehime, in which I did the third section of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Obviously doing the math there, some may ask “Ok, but where’s Kochi then? Did you even go?”

Oh, I did!

By car!

Almost a year and a half ago…!

During Golden Week (a week holiday in Japan from late April to early May) in 2014, I drove along Kochi prefecture to complete the second section, known as the “Dojo of Religious Training.” If you’re wondering why I drove instead of walked, please take a look at the map below.

Shikoku Pilgrimage map

Shikoku Pilgrimage map

The end of the Tokushima prefecture section is Temple 23, and Kochi prefecture goes from temples 24-39.

Taking into account the space between 23->24, 36->37, 37->38, and 38->39, that’s a lot of distance!

If I’m going to be honest though, once I visited all of the Kochi temples, I didn’t like the car method as much. In short, I overestimated how far I would drive each day, which made my visits to each temple significantly shorter than if I walked. Having said that, I honestly don’t remember too much about each temple and don’t have a breadth of stories to pick from and write about. But I still wanted to give resources as far as where I stayed and my general impressions, as well as some key spots to visit along the way for any pilgrims-to-be.

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Tokushima Temple Walk: Next Steps

I want to show you something.

Wooden Monk

I received this Monk “puzzle” from the art teacher at my big school, who also happened to complete the pilgrimage. When I returned to the office, and he found out where I had been, we had lengthy conversations about the trail and our experiences. He would pull out his map book (which I guess he just had at his desk??) to show me what would be in store for the next prefecture, which is a lot more lengthy than Tokushima to say the least. While he drove the entire trail, it still didn’t take away his accomplishment. After overhearing our talks, the school secretary mentioned he also used to work at one of the numbered temples in Ehime. As the word spread, I was also asked to give presentations to the third and second year students about my trip.

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Tokushima Temple Walk Day 7: カイル帰り

Read Day 6 here

Originally written: January 2, 2014

Temples traveled to: 22 and 23

I’m actually writing this waiting for my train back to Temple 1, since I missed the earlier one by six minutes.

It’s over! It’s all over. It’s even weird to think that I beat the first dojo in 7 days, with the original plan being 9. It feels so long ago that I actually started this thing. Honestly, I know it went by as fast, but so much has happened that it feels like I’ve been in Tokushima for quite some time.

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Article in AJET Connect!

Boy howdy! It’s finally that article I kept talking about!

This one more focuses on the 1200 year anniversary, what it means and how to get more information on events happening around Shikoku. I was also very lucky and was able to interview the man himself, David Turkington from shikokuhenrotrail.com! If you’d like to read, head to page 20 of this month’s magazine in the link below!

And, naturally, there’s other really rad articles in this month’s issue too!


Tokushima Temple Walk Day 6: High Road

(Editorial Note: Due to a threatening back problem and the continued work on another article, last two week’s posts had to be delayed. But now we continue on!)

Read Day 5 here

Originally written January 1, 2014

Temples traveled to: 18-22

I’m glad Toyoko realized what an amazing elixir orange juice is in the morning. Seriously, nothing is better, besides, well, maybe coffee.

As I downed the sugary drink, I watched all of the New Years celebrations from around the world on the lounge’s TV. I have to say, I almost prefer seeing all the highlights at once. I wasn’t close to any shrines or temples last night anyways.

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Tokushima Temple Walk Day 5: Taxi Driver

Read Day 4 here

Originally written December 31, 2013

Temples traveled to: Only #17

After sleeping for about 12 hours, Gunma-chan and I woke up and took our time releasing ourselves from the warmth of our blankets. Finally deciding to rid of our sloth, Gunma-chan said she was going to head out to walk around a bit. Not too soon after, I heard the mutterings of “Gaijin” downstairs and knew that was probably my cue to make an introduction.

Gunma-chan had run into the owner of Sakae Taxi, a shorter man in his forties with the beginnings of grey hair and a permanent smile on his face. After introducing myself, he ordered to grab my wallet and said we’d be heading out as soon as possible for breakfast. Ken-chan, as he would later be called, was a man with no sense of hesitation.

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Tokushima Temple Walk Day 4: City Hunter

Read Day 3 here

Originally written December 30, 2013

Temples traveled to: 13-16

Breakfast started really early this morning, but, much like last night, I was given enough to feed a small army. At least I had the excuse that my body needed the calories.

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