The birthplace of revered Buddhist ascetic Kōbō Daishi (774–835), Shikoku (四国) is synonymous with natural beauty and the pursuit of spiritual perfection. It's home to the 88 Temple route, Japan's most famous pilgrimage, even if some henro (pilgrims) today bus it rather than hoof it.

But Shikoku is not just for the seeker of enlightenment – the island's stunning Iya Valley, rugged Pacific coastline, gorgeous free-flowing rivers and mountain ranges all beckon to be explored with hiking boot, kayak, surfboard and your own earthly vessel. Your physical incarnation will feast upon the historic castles and gardens, excellent regional cuisine and modern pleasures of Kōchi, Matsuyama and Takamatsu.

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