Tips for future henro

Because of a question on Facebook I was incentivized to think about what advice I would give myself if I were to prepare for the trip now. What things are most important to get in order when you want to visit the 88 temples on Shikoku while walking? Here you will find 10 Tips for future henro or pilgrims on Shikoku.

Note: I’m still getting more text translated and will add additional pages like under tips 1 and 2.

10 Tips for future henro or pilgrims on Shikoku

  1. Buy the Shikoku Japan 88 route guide
  2. Learn Japanese
  3. Prepare for extremes
  4. Read blogs of other pilgrims
  5. Think about where you want to sleep
  6. Make your backpack lighter … no, even lighter
  7. Organise help (-troops)
  8. Buy the henro-outfit
  9. Fill your wallet with cash
  10. Take your time and enjoy

1. Buy the Shikoku Japan 88 route guide

The route guide is your lifeline: it describes the route, provides tips, functions as translator, and contains fun tourist facts.

2. Learn Japanese

To make sure people can understand you on Shikoku, it is more than desirable to be able to make yourself know Japanese enough to speak it. The basics will suffice. In the route guide there are some general phrases with which will be of help in most situations. However, learning more is always better.

3. Prepare yourself for extremes

The climate can vary extremely between heat, humidity, cold, heavy rainfall and even typhoons. Some mountain trails are very steep in the ascent and decline, and you will be walking kilometers on asphalt next to (or on) roads that are in active use.

4. Read blogs of other pilgrims

Take inspiration from them, see what issues they encountered and what experiences they had. You’re already ahead: after all, you’re on my website!

5. Think about where you want to sleep

Ensure that have booked a sleeping space for your first night, before you leave. To enter the country, you need to inform the authorities of your initial sleeping location. After that, decide and prepare for if you are going to sleep in huts/ a tent, or if you are going to book minshuku or hotels.

6. Make your backpack lighter … no, even lighter

Every kilogram you pack, you take with you, you have to tote up the 10.000 meters of elevation and the 1200-kilometer-long hike. If there’s any doubt, you leave it out. And if you forgot to pack something, you will be able to buy almost anything on Shikoku.

7. Organise help (-troops)

Obtain a Japanese Sim-card with data for your phone, become a member of the henro Facebook groups and find other henro. Sharing experiences really works!

8. Buy the henro-outfit

The henro-outfit is obtainable at the stores next to temple 1. Wear the clothing and become a pilgrim. Because of these, you blend in, more easily interact with the locals, and you are more likely to receive o-setai. These gifts tot he pilgrim vary from route directions to cash and lodging.

9. Fill your wallet with cash

On Shikoku, most things still require cash payment. From your lodgings to the food in a Kombini, everything is paid in cash. Luckily there are plenty of ATMs, which sometimes, unfortunately, are in malfunction.

10. Take your time and enjoy

Don’t let anyone tell you how to pace your pilgrimage, whether it be fast or slow. Just respect the people, nature and culture of Japan. Any choice is good as long as you feel good about making it. So see these tips only as a guideline and experience it yourself.

Have fun on Shikoku!

Do you have tips for the pilgrim bound for Shikoku?

Did I forget to mention something in these tips for future henro on Shikoku? Let me know in the comments below and I will add it to this site!

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