Birthplace of the founder of the Buddhist Shingon line, Kukai, known posthumously as Kôbô Daishi, Shikoku is synonymous with natural beauty and a spiritual place.
The island of Shikoku is home to 88 temples, which are part of Japan's most famous pilgrimage.
In the past the island of Shikoku was divided into 4 regions, hence the name Shi (4) koku (countries/regions):
Considered remote and inaccessible for centuries, Shikoku is easily accessible via three bridges built over the last 3 decades. The stunning Iya Valley, rugged Pacific coastline, beautiful rivers and mountain ranges are part of this wonderful island.
Sanuki was one of the four prefectures of Shikoku. It is now called Kagawa. Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Shikoku and also in all of Japan.
Awa was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. Its current name is Tokushima.
The starting point of 1200 years of pilgrimage, Awa is home to 23 of Shikoku's 88 temples.
Tosa was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. His current name is Kochi.
It is the largest of the 4 prefectures of Shikoku. It runs from Cape Muroto-misaki to Ashizuri-misaki with the Pacific along the coast.
Iyo was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. Her current name is Ehime.
Ehime occupies the western part of Shikoku and has its largest city, Matsuyama. It also has the most pilgrimage temples: 27 to be exact.
The spectacular Iya Valley is a special place. Being one of Japan's hidden valleys, its gorges and dense forests have been a refuge for many centuries for those who want to escape persecution, such as those of the Shaman in the 9th century, or lost wars such as the Heike clan.