Henro is the name of the journey of the 88 sacred temples of Shikoku taken by the Buddhist monk Kukai , over 1200 years ago.
The pilgrim road runs for about 1200kms, if walked, and passes through all four prefectures on Shikoku. Upon completion of the pilgrimage, it is said that one can find themselves and be freed of earthly desires. Some describe it as “A journey of the mind.” *Kukai (Also known as Kobo Daishi) was a monk born in 774 in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, and was the founder of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism in Japan.
The appeal of this pilgrimage is that anyone can join, regardless of nationality or religion. Pilgrims can also choose which order they visit the sacred sites in, and even the mode of transportation. There are basically no rules in regards to dress code, however, walking the route with a pilgrim’s staff and wearing the traditional white robes and sedge hat really instills a sense of motivation.
In Kochi prefecture, there are 16 temples from 24th to 39th which are designated as part of the 88 temples.
The most recommended part in Kochi is from Kochi city central area to the 31st temple, Chikurin-ji temple, using local tram and walk about 2kms, or from Chikurin-ji temple to 32nd Zenjibuji temple and 33rd Sekkeiji temple which is about 15kms. Japan Holidays can introduce route guides to assist in not getting lost along this section of the pilgrimage.
Time restrictions may prevent walking the entire Henro Pilgrimage or visiting all 88 temples spread throughout Shikoku Island. However, there are mini versions of the Henro trail where Jizo statues are placed to represent 88 temples. Most mini Henro routes travel through local villages, farmland, and small mountains. Visitors can see the countryside and village lifestyle, which some consider to be “the real Japan”.
Other suggested routes for the original Henro and mini version of Henro trails are currently under development for travellers. For further information on the Henro Pilgrimage or mini routes please contact Japan Holidays.