Foreigners flock to brutal 'midsummer pilgrimage'

TOKYO, Sep 25 (News On Japan) - The Shikoku pilgrimage takes pilgrims to 88 sacred sites scattered across the island, covering a total distance of roughly 1,200 kilometers.

During the scorching summer months, it's common for pilgrims to use buses or cars for transportation, but for those challenging the grueling walking pilgrimage, there is an 'oasis' known as 'pilgrimage accommodations.'

One such pilgrimage lodging, "Sudachi-an," is located in Kamiyama-cho, Tokushima Prefecture, a small village surrounded by mountains with only 18 residents.

Sudachi-an is located on the mountain route known as the "toughest challenge" on the pilgrimage. Pilgrims must cross three steep mountains with severe inclines, covering about 15 kilometers of mountain trails to reach it, from the 11th temple to the 12th temple.

This place is truly an 'oasis,' where pilgrims rest their tired bodies and replenish their spirits.

The owner says, "The accommodations further ahead are several kilometers away. If you continue, the day will darken, wild animals may appear, and it becomes dangerous."

This village, which once had four pilgrimage accommodations, currently has only "Sudachi-an" in operation.