Have BOOK, will travel.
If you are considering doing the Shikoku Pilgrimage, all you really need to do is buy this book. It's a collection of wisdom from previous pilgrims.
Inside you'll find everything you need to plan your trip: accommodations, attractions, hiking maps, restaurants, temple etiquette. It gives you the freedom to go at your own pace and feel confident you'll have all the information you need.
As a supplement to the book I've made an itinerary! The pace is for someone doing the pilgrimage by car and the attractions along the way are for anyone who loves art and culture.
Cannot recommend the pilgrimage enough, you can read about my personal experience in the article Pilgrims in Disguise.
12 Days in Shikoku
The perfect combination of meditation, nature, food and art.
****If you are coming from Tokyo, plan on 13 days because you'll need 1/2 day of travel on either end of the experience.
Day 1 - Temples 88-84
Start the pilgrimage at temple 88 and work your way back into the city of Takamatsu. Along the way stop at the Noguchi House to see the artist' sculpture work and home.
Sleep - Airbnb Traditional Apartment
Day 2 - Art Islands
Take the morning ferry over to Naoshima or Teshima. Once on the island rent a bike and explore!
Ferry schedules can be found here.
Day 4 - Temples 76 - 66
Further outside the city, find yourself in the mountains. The mountain roads are about 1.5 cars wide, and locals drive on them a quite a speed. Stay in an abandoned school turned into a guesthouse. And have a bath with a breathtaking view. Ask Momo San (your host) to make a cup of coffee - the best in the region by far!
Do - If you want to make a side trip you can drive into Iya Valley and visit "Lost Japan" and the restored Chiiori Trust. Maybe even drive through a town filled with scarecrows with a total population of 35.
Sleep - UB1 Hostel
Day 7 - Temples 45 - 40
Leaving the Ehime prefecture for Kochi, visit gorgeous mountain temples and stay overnight at Temple 40.
Eat - break up the drive with lunch at Café Beans - the sweetest cafe by the train station in Uchiko. They don't have a website, so here is their address: 〒791-3301, ２６４ 内子 内子町 喜多郡 愛媛県 and phone number: 0893-44-3130
Sleep - Temple 40, call ahead to reserve, no web page: 0895 72 0416
Day 8 - Temples 39 - 36
It's like driving along Route 1 in California, some of the most beautiful coasts. Stop and see lighthouses that look out toward the edge of the earth and visit a geological site.
Do - Cape Ashizuri
Sleep - TOSA - they don't have a website, just call ahead to reserve: 088 856 2451. It's a traditional ryokan where yukata is completely appropriate dining room attire. And they have the most amazing bath overlooking the ocean.
Day 10 - Temples 27 - 23
Scenic drive with beaches and hidden surfing spots!!
Do - Surf
Sleep - Umigame-so (うみがめそ) - Gorgeous view, sea turtle park next door, smells a bit old, but has delicious food and is clean. Call for reservations: 0884 77 1166.
Day 11 - Temples 22-12
Do - The ropeway to Temple 21, an attraction in itself! Visit Kamiyama, it's a very interesting town embracing tech in the countryside.
Eat - French Restaurant @ Ikuko’s
My favorite ritual:
At each temple, on my name slips, I wrote something I was grateful for. I would do it just before I got out of the car. The practice helped me focus on the moment and to make each temple unique - even though I was visiting almost 8 a day!