Kumano Kodo Route

4DAYS 3NIGHTS

Robert

Robert is a professional photographer, journalist, and social media influencer from England, dedicated to capturing the rich cultural and natural beauty of the world.
He has traveled to 155 countries and previously worked as Editor-in-Chief for CNN Travel in Japan, BBC, Wall Street Journal and NatGeo.

DAY 1

  • 10:15
    Shin-Osaka Sta. (JR Line / Ltd. Express KUROSHIO)
  • 12:35
    Kii-Tanabe Sta. (JR Kinokuni Line)
  • 12:40
    Visit Tanabe Tourist Information Center
  • 13:00
    Lunch around Kii-Tanabe Sta.
  • 14:50
    Kii-Tanabe Sta. Bus stop
  • 16:48
    Kawayu Onsen Bus stop
  • 16:50
    Kawayu Midoriya (Check in)
    This was a really decent hotel, especially if you stay on the higher floors, because the views from the windows look directly out over the river and face the forests that cascade down the mountainside.
    I would recommend it because the staff speaks English and are very friendly, so there is no barrier to understanding how to navigate the hotel and enjoy its hot springs.
  • 17:30
    Kawayu Midoriya (Dinner)
    The food is served buffetstyle. That’s good because some dishes may not be familiar and so people can choose the ones they want, at their own leisure.
  • 18:00
    Kawayu Onsen Sennin-buro River Bath
    I think this is a unique experience, as compared with most hot springs.
    People from abroad will enjoy this a lot, because it is so open and you can enjoy the experience with others, instead of being isolated in a private hot springs setting.
    I’ve been to many hot springs all around Japan, but never one quite like this, located on a wide open river.
    It felt very local, with people of all ages coming to soak and chat, so it had a real sense of community.
    ※Period: From December to the end of February.

DAY 2

  • 7:00
    Kawayu Midoriya (Breakfast)
  • 8:10
    Kawayu Midoriya (Check out)
  • 8:16
    Kawayu Onsen Bus stop
  • 8:46
    Hosshinmon-oji
  • 9:00
    Hosshinmon-oji
    This is where we learned the most about the fact that this is a UNESCO World Heritage site, because of the signs and markings around the temple and gate.
    It was very atmospheric so we spent lots of time here taking many photos.
    I'd recommend it for sure, because UNESCO World Heritage sites are important for understanding all of human history, so it’s great to see how different cultures in other countries have developed. This is a great introduction to the Kumano Kodo trail.
  • Mizunomi-oji / Dokyuzenmon jizo
    The hike here was really beautiful. We loved this walk, where the path winds through the forest and we took many shots here.
    It’s an easy walk too, so not challenging at all, and you meet other hikers along the way.
    The water purification spot is very small and while probably historic it is not much to see, but the hike through the forests, especially if there is some mist, is very nice indeed.
  • Fushiogami-oji / Fushiogami jaya / Kumano Kodo bento(Lunch)
    Unfortunately it was raining heavily and VERY cold while we were here, so it was hard to enjoy eating a picnic outside at this time.
    The picnic itself included some interesting variations on rice balls, wrapped in leaves, and I am sure on a sunny day it is nice to eat outside here.
  • Sangen-jaya Teahouse Remains
    This part of the trail had a collection of little gems, including a few bamboo trees that we saw for the first time.
    There was a small and charming gateway, and a former teahouse that is now used as a rest stop. There is also a pathway that’s very atmospheric.
    It’s photogenic when you head up hill after this spot. I recommend the entire route as a hike taking several days and I wish we had had more time ourselves.
    I felt like there are many little gems like this all along and it gets more and more fascinating to find out what each stone, monument, gate and building represents.
  • Haraido-oji
    While it is probably important in terms of meaning, and it is certainly historic, since Haraido-oji is the final oji before arriving at Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine.
    If someone is making a walk or pilgrimage through all (or many) oji, then visiting here may have some meaning.
  • 14:30
    Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine
    This shrine is hugely impressive. There are so many structures here and they vary in colour too.
    It’s fun to explore and also watch the visitors here praying and admiring the buildings. I'd recommend it for sure.
    It’s fabulous how it is set in and surrounded by woods and feels truly historic and timeless.
    The quality of the craftsmanship in the buildings is also hugely impressive, so it’s a place to spend a while hanging around and admiring everything slowly and carefully.
  • 15:10
    Oyunohara
    Firstly, I had NO idea this existed. it’s a new structure and very impressive, the photos do not do it justice.
    It’s enormous, the biggest torii gate in the world. It is surrounded by fields close by, so you can walk to it from a distance and pass through it, and try to capture your own pictures.
    For sure if you’re visiting the nearby Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine this is a must, its a short walk and mightily impressive.
    Such gates are designed to create the crossing point from normal reality to somewhere sacred and it’s easy to visualise this here and imagine it as a portal to another world.
  • 15:20
    Dainichi-goe
    This was a fantastic little hike. It runs through really lush and beautiful forest.
    The pathway feels ancient so you feel like you’re following in the footsteps of hikers for millennia.
    It only took two hours or so and was not too tiring, but still had its ups and downs to enjoy.
    Actually the only people we passed on the trail were non-Japanese, so it seems like it’s already becoming well known.
  • Tsukimigaoka-jinja / Hanakake-jizo
    Yes, I didn’t know anything about this story of the Hanakake-jizo, and it’s so nice to discover the legend because it helps you to really sense the history of a place like this.
    It’s nice to see people still leave offerings, even now.
    It’s the highlight of the hike and gives a nice insight into Japanese history and culture, and their relationship with nature and spirits, so I would definitely recommend it to other tourists.
  • Yunomine-oji
    Like the jizo statue, small shrines like these show you how our world and our relationship with Mother Nature has changed over time.
    I loved the story of fathers and sons connected to this shrine, and how it is dedicated to health, specifically to hot springs.
    I think shrines like this remind us of how in the past we had more respect for our surroundings and thanked nature for what it provides, so tourists will enjoy places like this because it feels spiritual and historic and makes us think about how we live now.
  • 18:00
    Ryokan Yunomineso (Check in)
    This is a very simple hot springs resort.
    The highlight was the staff; they were so sweet and helpful, and I appreciated it. They also had great wifi, which was unexpected.
  • 18:30
    Ryokan Yunomineso (Dinner)
    This dinner was actually excellent, and they provided extra shabu shabu, which was nice.
    The presentation and lots of small dishes were really nice and there is a playful aspect in the enjoyment of making your own shabu shabu.
    I would recommend it because it includes a mixture of local and unusual foods as well as familiar foods, and there is enjoyment and fun to be had in cooking your own food, to make the shabu shabu.
Special Tour

Exclusive Seasonal Tour of Hidden Nachisan

Availability: Recommended from February to May
6hours
Price per person: 62,000YEN
*This price (per person) is based on two people
Discover the secret of hidden Nachisan, and journey to the power spot appreciated by locals for centuries.

Every person has a different experience when they climb to Kumano Nachi Taisha and Seiganto-ji Temple, and down to Hirou Shrine and the famed, sacred, towering falls of Nachi-no-Otaki.
But very few have had the opportunity to go beyond, to bask in the natural wonder of the upper falls in the inner sanctuary of Kumano Nachi Taisha’s “shintai” (object of worship).

Until now! Join the “Seasonal Tour of Hidden Nachi” where you can taste a historic part of the 48-waterfall circuit, tread for over a millenia by only mountain ascetic priests on sacred pilgrimage.
Visit three of the more sacred: Nyoin Nin Kannon waterfall (the second falls) and Bato Kannon waterfall (the third falls), and at the base, Nachi-no-Otaki.

This tour includes an exclusive purification ceremony at the main shrine of Kumano Nachi Taisha just before travelers head up the meandering steep slope, around the babbling tributaries, through the pristine natural forest of Nachi.

On the descent, write your wish upon a wooden votive to be offered in a Gomataki fire ritual at Seiganto-ji Temple, to seek protection from the ills of the world and change your fortune!

This seasonal tour runs for 5 hours and 50 minutes, but is only offered from February to May.

Nurture your inner spirit by joining this unique hike into the mysteries of Nachi Falls!

Other Route

Koyasan Route

Marcy

Marcy is a professional content creator, blogger and editor from the Americas, focused in the luxury adventure travel industry showcasing remote exotic destinations around the world.
Marcy worked as Marketing PR director for Ralph Lauren. Her work has been featured in The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and National Geographic.
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