Duration and length of the stages
The distance from Temple 1 to Temple 88 and back to the starting point, Temple 1, is 1,150 km. How long you need to walk the whole way depends on how many hours a day you can and want to walk. How fast you walk and whether you take rest days.
Often, the time it takes a pilgrim to walk 1,150 km is given as 42 days (six weeks). In other places, 30 to 60 days (4.5 to 8.5 weeks).
If you have six weeks to walk the 1,150 km, you will have to cover an average of about 27 km a day. Depending on your personal pace, this results in a pure walking time of between 5 and 7 hours.
On top of that, there are additional routes to be covered on foot. In the temple itself, from the pilgrimage route to the accommodation and back. To buy food and drinks and the detours if one gets lost.
This can add another 5 to 15 percent of the distance.
The often stated 42 days is probably a good basis for your own planning. On average, you will walk about 30 km a day.
The total personal duration can then be estimated by deductions or additions.
The length of the daily stages themselves will be quite different for most pilgrims. It also depends on how many temples are visited in one day and how much time is spent in each temple. Depending on the location of the possible accommodation, the climbs to be done and the current fitness level.
With the total duration of 42 days and the average 30 km per day, it is likely that on some days only 20 km or even less will be covered. On other days, the distance might be more than 35 km.
For those who also visit all 20 subsidiary temples (Bekkaku) on their way, the direct distance of 1,150 km is extended to about 1,400 km.
Map and elevation profile of the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route
Many thanks to Matsushita-San, the author of the „Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide“ for providing the map and elevation profile of the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route and the accompanying legend.
88 Temples in 55 Days
In this book, author Oliver Dunskus divides the 1,150 km into 55 daily stages, with distances ranging from 15 to 30 km:
“88 Temples in 55 Days: A Supplement to the 88 Temples of Shikoku” by Oliver Dunskus (in English)