, 2022-12-09 22:33:57,
Peaceful Shikoku Island is certainly a much-appreciated change of pace from bustling Osaka. The day ahead of me promised a 7.5-mile trek along beautiful forested mountain paths as part of Japan’s Shikoku Pilgrimage. Though, like most people, I was only doing a small portion of the trail over a few days, the multi-month walk around the island stops at dozens of temples along the way, many of them tucked into the woods, surrounded by perfectly curated gardens, past bamboo forests, rice fields, moss-covered stones, and waterfalls. Whether you take a car, bike, or walk the course over weeks or just a couple days, it’s truly a tranquil temple pilgrimage.
My second day was the leg between Fujii-dera (the pilgrimage’s 11th temple) and Shosan-ji (Temple 12). With over 3,600 feet of elevation gain, this would be one of the most challenging parts of the route—in fact, this particular stretch is sometimes called henro-korogashi, or the “pilgrim tumbler.” But it’s also one of the most beautiful sections. The surrounding trees and shrines along a root-strewn dirt path occasionally opened up to magnificent views of green mountains overflowing in a tumble of forests.
Even better, after reaching Shosan-ji and spending some time at the temple—which is the second highest at 2,300 feet and is known as “burning mountain temple” due to tales about a fiery dragon—we set off to drive to that evening’s accommodation at an onsen hotel. There we would enjoy a delicious…
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