The itinerary itself was already a feat - to distribute the 88 temples sensibly over the available time and also to make free days available. Although we visited all 88 temples, it was not a sightseeing tour, but really a pilgrimage. We got to know the corresponding rituals and practiced them from the beginning of a temple visit to the end, so that we got into a pilgrimage rhythm that made us pause and give room for devotion. At the same time, you could feel immersing yourself in a tradition that is more than 1200 years old. We were also fortunate, that there were usually only a few other pilgrims at the temple, so we could enjoy the peace and quiet of the place. But also the encounter with other pilgrims was very special and unique every time. The split between driving with the minibus and walking was also very well chosen with flexibility for changes. Although the walking part was smaller, the climbing of sometimes more than some hundred steps to some mountain temples required some effort, which also increased the feeling of being truly on a pilgrimage. Driving and travel times were extremely well planned and organized. At some temples I would have wished a bit more time to delve deeper into the atmosphere and explore the templeground in depth. Also the free days were well placed, so that there was the opportunity to discover various wonderful places on our own, or had time to recover. The four main cities on Shikoku offer plenty of culture and beautiful places, such as the Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, or castles like in Matsuyama.The accommodations were a very good mix of Western and Japanese style, especially if one could relax in an onsen. Some of the hotels were close to shopping malls, so there were plenty of restaurants for eating in the evening on our own and convenience stores for buying snacks for the next day.The food was very delicious and gave an insight in the Japanese art of cooking and the care and beauty of the food presentation. Most of the time one could choose between Western and Japanese breakfast or even combine them. For lunch during the day we bought snacks in the convenience stores. When we went out to eat together in the evening, it was wonderful to get to know local specialities, which are unique. The purely vegetarian food in the temple hostel on the Koyasan was incredibly varied, delicious and substantial and every day different.Overall it was the most special journey I've ever taken. For me it seemed to be a window in time being out of the world - something I have never experienced before. In the meantime I understand the pilgrims, who do this journey again and again - I also would love to do it again.
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