Are you interested in doing the “Ohenro (Shikoku Pilgrimage)”?
Although visiting the 88 temples on foot is the traditional way, it is a tough way to complete whole Shikoku Pilgrimage route.
You might have no ideas what preparations you must make, or even where you should start..
Moreover, you might not be confident in your physical ability to walk the whole 1,400km….
But now, here is a good chance for even beginners to easily experience Ohenro.
Let’s visit “Kyukamura Sanuki-Goshikidai,” one of the National Park Resort hotels.
“Kyukamura” literally means “holiday village.”
It is one of the National Park Resort hotels. These are located in national parks in spots where you can enjoy great views and scenery.
Actually, there are 37 Kyukamura hotels all over Japan.
Petit Ohenro experience in Kagawa
You can enjoy your Ohenro experience from this Kyukamura hotel!
The “Petit Ohenro Experience” makes you one of Ohenro-san, walking from the 81st temple (Shiromine-ji) to 82nd temple (Negoro-ji).
First, let’s rent a sedge hat, a pilgrim’s staff, a Byakue (white jacket), and a loop-shaped monk’s stole.
These are required items and garments for Ohenro-san.
After the short lecture about the route, you go to Shiromine-ji Temple, which is the starting point for this short trip.
Let’s start the tour!
This is the main gate of Shiromine-ji Temple, the 81st temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, and here we start the tour!
Now you walk into the mountains where the Pilgrimages’ path lays.
There are some signs and stone signposts along the path.
The route of this experience tour is around 4.6 km, and you can walk it all in 2 or 3 hours.
However, the path has ups and downs and is not as easy as walking on a road for cars.
So you have to choose the best day for you considering the season, the weather, and your health condition.
The nature and yourself on the path
You might concentrate your attention on walking on the mountain trail.
But the important thing is enjoying the nature and scenery on the way.
Sometimes, take a short break and just relax.
Maybe when you get tired, you will find a sign telling you the distance to the next temple.
“0.8km to go! Wow, just a little bit more walking!”
We had “osettai” before arriving at the 82nd temple.
At this shed for Ohenro, volunteers prepare some rosemary herb tea and rice crackers for Ohenro-san.
In Shikoku, the culture of “osettai” still remains.
Some people give drinks, food, or even a room for an overnight stay to Ohenro-san as “osettai.”
This custom is not only done to support Ohenro-san, but also is considered as an offering for Kobo-Daishi (Kukai, the priest who is said to have started the Shikoku Pilgrimage).
You can see a lot of cards with a religious inscription, which are offered when you visit the temples.
These are put on the wall because Ohenro-san who accept osettai should give these cards in return.
The petit Ohenro experience has been accomplished!
Now, we have arrived at Negoro-ji Temple!
We took whole 3 hours to get there while chatting, singing, and walking slowly to enjoy every moment.
Let’s say “thank you for the precious experience” at the main hall.
Walking the Ohenro is quite a different experience from visiting temples by car.
You can fully feel the nature and atmosphere, so it is definitely worth it to experience this, even if you only visit a few temples on the whole route.
After the experience, it is great to have a cup of tea at the hotel lounge.
The scenery from here is quite gorgeous, overlooking Setouchi Inland Sea, and on a clear day you can even see Okayama on the other side of the sea.
The blue of the sky and the sea will heal you immediately after the long walk.
Address／3042, Oyabu-cho, Sakaide-shi, Kagawa
Rental fees／sedge hat: 200 yen, pilgrim’s staff: 200 yen, Byakue (white jacket): 600 yen, loop-shaped monk’s stole 400 yen
*All the fees will be 50% off for people staying at the hotel
Bus service／A shuttle bus is available from JR Takamatsu Station and JR Kinashi Station (Once a day, reservations required)
Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada
Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.
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