The First Five Temples: Ryōzen-ji to Jizō-ji

Naruto is the starting point for Shikoku's 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The first five temples are all within easy walking distance of each other, making it possible to get a taste of the henro (pilgrim) trail on a day trip from Tokushima.

To get to Temple 1, Ryōzen-ji, take a local train from Tokushima to Bandō (板東; ¥260, 25 minutes). The temple is a 10- to 15-minute walk (about 700m) along the main road; the map at Bandō Station should point you in the right direction. From Ryōzen-ji it's a short walk along the main road from the first temple to the second, Gokuraku-ji (極楽寺), and another 2km from here to Temple 3, Konsen-ji (金泉寺). There are more-or-less regular signposts (in Japanese) pointing the way. Look for the signs by the roadside marked henro-michi (へんろ道 or 遍路道), often decorated with a red picture of a henro in silhouette. From here, it's about 5km along an increasingly rural path to Temple 4, Dainichi-ji (大日寺), and another 2km to Temple 5, Jizō-ji (地蔵寺), where there's an impressive collection of statues (¥200) of the 500 Rakan disciples of the Buddha. From the Rakan ­(羅漢) bus stop on the main road in front of the temple you can catch a bus to Itano Station (板野), where a train will take you back to Tokushima (¥360, 30 minutes).