Happy New Year fellow pilgrims!
I’m extremely happy to greet you this new year. The last year was quite a disaster, in so many ways. I’m glad that you are here today to read these words, but I also want to be mindful of so many people around us who have been so terribly hurt by the Corona virus pandemic.
There are too many who have died too soon. And in far too many cases, due to the neglect and thoughtlessness of others. This is a particularly frustrating thing to deal with. If leaders around the world had acted sooner, more responsibly, focused on people rather than political pandering, we would have been much better off. And less people would have perished needlessly.
I offer my most sincere condolences to those of you who have lost a loved one this past year, and my sincere sympathies for those who suffer in other ways as well.
Yet somehow we are still here, and there is a life to be had, to be explored and examined, and to be celebrated. The Shikoku Pilgrimage is still intact, and in many ways, considering the pandemic that we have struggled so far with, has become even more relevant, more significant.
To those who are unfamiliar with the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the route itself is like a zen circle that goes around the circumference of the region. It will take someone traveling by foot about 6-8 weeks of consistent walking to complete it, but many pilgrims also travel by buses, cars, and local trains, mixing in their hikes along the way. The pilgrimage is historically, and culturally, one of healing and recovery. Many also travel the pilgrimage as a form of remembrance for a lost one. I’ve seen first hand myself, several pilgrims who carry a photo or momentum of a lost family member or friend on the path. One can hardly think of a more appropriate place to start our collective recovery from COVID 19 than several days (or weeks) walking the pilgrim’s path in Shikoku.
This last year has also brought with it a heightened global spotlight on Shikoku, and I am very very happy that my company was instrumental in the promotion of the Shikoku region, and our work as the Concierge for Shikoku Tourism, to celebrate the awarding of “2022 BEST IN TRAVEL: REGION” by Lonely Planet.
Executives at Lonely Planet have told us that the Best in Travel Awards campaign that they run annually catches the attention of 1.6 BILLION people around the world. Not all will wind up coming to Shikoku, mind you, but of that massive number a small percentage will see Shikoku featured, and of that percentage a number will read more about Shikoku, and of that group, a certain number will be coming to Shikoku to experience this jewel of Japan for themselves in person. Despite this “trickle down”, the remainder of pilgrims and Shikoku tourists expected is quite significant.
And it is for this reason too, and also keeping in mind the growing number of inquiries we receive about the Shikoku Pilgrimage, that we have also decided to be very active in helping facilitate inbound travel for new Shikoku pilgrims. Towards this end, we have contracted with Tobu Top Tours of Tokyo to organize and coordinate tours for incoming pilgrims. They are spectacularly professional, have a staff of over 2,000 people, and are one of the most trusted travel companies in Japan.
If you are planning to come to Shikoku as a first time pilgrim and would like help in coordinating your travel schedule, the details you need to move from place to place, advanced bookings for ryokan (Japanese inns) and local hotels, please contact us via this form: https://yourpilgrimageinjapan.com/contact-2/
Let us know how many are in your group, whether you will be traveling on your own or would like to have an accompanying guide, and other details that you feel are necessary, such as food allergies or mobility issues. Once you fill in the form, we will be in touch with further information and begin to make arrangements on your behalf.
More and more details of how to prepare for your pilgrimage ahead will be coming to this site. For those who are contacting us soon please be mindful that the airports are not yet open here in Japan for international travelers. We anticipate things to be much more “back to normal” later this spring, but it is still a “wait and see” situation. Nevertheless, tentative bookings are possible as we have a few groups already scheduled with Tobu Top Tours for October and beyond. All plans are made with the standard 30 day cancelation policy, which means that any deposits made are fully refundable with 30 days or more notice.