Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage


2018.02.27

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Shikoku is celebrated for its large number of Buddhist temples with 88 of them making up the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Whether partaking in the pilgrimage or not, an overnight stay is one of the best ways to take a closer look at life in a temple. The 58th temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, Senyuji Temple, offers overnight stays for just that purpose.

  • Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Established as a temple in the seventh century, Senyuji sits in the north of Ehime Prefecture overlooking Imabari City and the Seto Inland Sea. Although the temple was originally built for the powerful Emperor Tenji, its name in fact pays homage to the temple’s previous caretaker, a wise man who, after spending 40 years maintaining the temple grounds, one day disappeared. The temple’s main hall, however, displays a statue of a triumphant Bodhisattva which is said to have been carved out by a dragon woman who flew out from the sea and up to the mountain.

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    This mountainous area is home to a cluster of temples along the Shikoku Pilgrimage rendering it a popular part of the circuit. The ascent to Senyuji is a tough one for those venturing there by foot from the 57th temple. However, it isn’t rare to see an impressive crowd at the temple who have made the two-hour climb up into the mountains from Imabari City. Those with a little less time can reach the temple by car or taxi from Imabari and in just over an hour from Hiroshima Prefecture via the six bridges of the Shimanami Kaido.

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    On par with the key pillars of simplicity and minimalism expressed in Buddhist practice, a stay at Senyuji is not luxurious, but guests are provided with comfort and a friendly reception. All of the guest rooms are Japanese-style with tatami mats and a futon that you lay out yourself at night and fold back up the following morning. With access to natural hot spring water, the public onsen is the place to relax in the evening when the rest of the temple grounds are calm and deserted.

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    Stay at a Temple Along the Shikoku Pilgrimage

    A strict vegetarian diet is a key tradition of most sects of Buddhism and one that can be put to the test at Senyuji. Come evening, all guests are served up the same set veggie-friendly meal that comprises a variety of vegetables freshly picked from the temple grounds as well as organic brown rice grown nearby. Not sticking too strictly to the Buddhist rules, guests can also get their hands on alcoholic drinks at dinnertime, including sake and beer. The highlight at dinner though is most certainly the surprisingly lively atmosphere with the room echoing with the voices of pilgrims sharing the stories of their remarkable journeys.

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