The Kii Peninsula points south away from the great cities of Kyoto and Osaka, and is one of the most remote and mystical areas of Japan, despite its proximity. Long a place of pilgrimage, it is the site of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan). From the 11th century successive emperors and their families made the long and difficult pilgrimage to Kumano from Kyoto. Several pilgrimage trails were established, and amongst them the Nakahechi-do, Kohechi-do and Ohechi-do, collectively known as the Kumano kodo (Old road of Kumano). Our walk focuses on part of the Nakahechi-do, which weaves its way through the forested mountains and small villages to the Grand Shrine of Hongu. You then transfer by bus and train to the Nachi Grand Shrine.
The walking is mostly paved village paths and unpaved mountains trails, with considerable ascent and descent on certain days. Though not 'technical', you will be need to be fit and well-prepared with adequate gear and clothing. This walk is highly customisable; there are 3 Days of walking ranging from 2 to 5 hours, and we can advise on which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.
Adult (age 12+)|
|Duration :||3 nights 4 Days|
|Tour Start :||Kyoto or Osaka|
|Tour End :||Kyoto or Osaka|
|Walking days :||3 days|
|Departure Date :||Daily (All Year)|
|Download :||PDF Itinerary|
(Meals : D)
Hike from Takijiri to Takahara
Walking distance : 4.5km
Elevation gain : 370m of ascent
Time required : About 2 hours
Our tour includes train tickets for your journey from Kyoto or Osaka to the small town of Kii-Tanabe on the mystical Kii Peninsula, gateway to the historic Kumano Kodo Trail. The railway line runs close to the ocean for the latter part of the journey and offers fine views out over the sea. The journey from Osaka to Kii-Tanabe is around two and half hours; from Kyoto it is around three hours and usually requires a change of trains at Shin-Osaka station. Board a local bus outside Kii-Tanabe station and travel forty minutes to Takijiri. This is where your walk on the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route begins. From Takijiri the path climbs steadily to the ridge-top village of Takahara, and takes around two hours.
Stay tonight in a small, Japanese-style hotel in the tiny village of Takahara, or in a Japanese Minshuku in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. Both options serve good, home-cooked dinners featuring local seasonal ingredients. The small Japanese-style hotel in Takahara has both Japanese and western-style rooms, all with wonderful views over the valley and mountains.
Hotel : Takahara or Kurisugawa
(Meals : B / D)
Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu
Walking distance : 10km
Elevation gain : 480m of ascent and 520m of descent
Time required : About 4-5 hours
After your Japanese breakfast you leave your inn and follow the trail as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside. You pass several Oji shrines before finally descending to the village of Chikatsuyu. The paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier. Arrive in Chikatsuyu in time to relax before dinner at a family-run Minshuku guest-house.
Hotel : Chikatsuyu
(Meals : B / D)
Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu
Walking distance : 7km
Elevation gain : 120m of ascent and 360m of descent
Time required : About 2 hours
From Chikatsuyu, the trail continues through the mountains. Board a bus in Chikatsuyu today and then walk a gentle section of the trail from Hosshinmon-oji to the Kumano shrine at Hongu, one of the three 'Grand Shrines of Kumano'. At the heart of these sacred mountains, Kumano was said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, the 'other world' which spirits travelled to in Japanese mythology. From the Kumano shrine at Hongu, a short bus ride brings you to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest natural hot -spring villages in Japan, or to Kawayu Onsen famous for the thermal water bubbling to the surface of the crystal clear river. Enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before or after your delicious, multi-course dinner.
* If you prefer a more challenging day, we offer two longer alternatives of 7 hours (15km) or of 8-9 hours (24km), both with significant ascent and descent. You can choose which option you prefer on the day - no need to decide in advance!
Hotel : Yunomine Onsen
(Meals : B)
Hayatama Grand Shrine and Shingu
Before or after breakfast, take time to explore the atmospheric village of Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen. Travel by bus along the picturesque valley to Shingu and visit the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano, fifteen minutes on foot from Shingu railway station. The tourist office is located directly in front of Shingu railway station, where the bus arrives; they can supply maps and advice. Within the shrine precinct is a giant Nagi tree about a thousand years old. 'Nagi dolls' made from the seeds of this tree are believed to bring about lucky encounters with the opposite sex or a happy married life to couples. The Kamikura Shrine on Mount Gongen, further on from the Grand Shrine, is also well worth a visit. People worship a large rock as a god here and the shrine is extremely atmospheric. After visiting the sights of Shingu, use the train tickets we provide for the train journey onwards to Osaka or Kyoto. The journey takes around five hours, arriving in Osaka or Kyoto early to mid-evening.
Hotel : N/A
|Day||City||Hotel Name||Hotel Type|
|1||Takahara or Kurisugawa||Kiri-no-sato Takahara or similar||Japanese-style Hotel in Takahara, or Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) in Kurisugawa|
|2||Chikatsuyu||Minshuku Chikatsuyu or similar||Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)|
|3||Yunomine||Yoshinoya or similar||Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)|