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 10 Days of walking ranging from 3 to 9 hours, and we can advise on which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.
|Tour Starts||Tour Ends||Price|
|Kumano Kodo Complete self-guided walking 9 Days|
|Tour Starts||Kyoto or Osaka||Tour Ends||Kyoto or Osaka||Twin Share||AUD2,765||Single||AUD3,645|
8 Nights 9 Days
Kyoto or Osaka - Kii-Tanabe - Takijiri - Takahara - Chikatsuyu - Hongu - Yunomine Onsen - Akagigoe - Dainichigoe - Yagio - Totsuka Onsen - Nishinaka - Miuraguchi - Nosegawa Onsen - Mount Koya - Kyoto or Osaka
8 nights accommodation, 8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches and 8 Dinners, Train tickets (from/to Kyoto or Osaka), Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions, Topographical map, Local phone support
Flights, Airport transfers, Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches, Pay locally for bus journeys on Days 1, 3, 5, 6 and 9, Single room supplement(s) if required
Recommended from April to November
|Day 1 (Meals : D)|
Hike from Takijiri to Takahara
Walking distance : 4.5km
Elevation gain : 370m of ascent
Time required : About 2 hours
Welcome to Japan! We will have transportation services to take you to your hotel. Please refer to your tour handbook for more information. Rest at the hotel and be ready to start your exciting tour tomorrow.
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 : Japanese-style Hotel in Takahara, or Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) in Kurisugawa
|Day 2 (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 : Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) in Chikatsuyu
|Day 3 (Meals : B/D)|
Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu
Walking distance : 24km
Elevation gain : 820m of ascent and 1,140m of descent
Time required : About 8-9 hours
From Chikatsuyu, the trail continues through the mountains to Hongu. The trail passes through small villages and forest trails over the Kii Mountains 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.
* We offer two shorter alternatives of 7 hours (15km) or of 2 hours (7km), using a local bus from Chikatsuyu to shorten the walk. You can choose which option you prefer on the day - no need to decide in advance!
Hotel : Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn) in Yunomine
|Day 4 (Meals : B/D)|
The Akagigoe and Dainichigoe trails
Walking distance : 8.8km (plus 7km from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu)
Elevation gain : 610m of ascent and 585m of descent
Time required : About 3-4 hours (plus 2 hours from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu)
Spend a leisurely second night in the picturesque hot-spring village of Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen part-way along the trail. On this extra day we offer two different optional walks on new sections of the trail, which can be combined if you wish. We also offer unique cultural experiences, such as walking with a Yamabushi ascetic monk, making your own traditional Japanese Washi paper or undertaking a spiritual meditation session.
* Today's shorter optional walk is 1.5 hours (2.8km) on the Dainichigoe trail between Yunomine Onsen and Hongu. You can walk both ways, or ride one way by bus. Or combine the Dainichigoe trail with the Akagigoe trail for a satisfying full-day hike.
Hotel : Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn) in Yunomine
|Day 5 (Meals : B/D)|
Hike from Yagio to Totsukawa Onsen
Walking distance : 8.8km
Elevation gain : 985m of ascent and 935m of descent
Time required : About 4-5 hours
Kii-Katsuura is an active fishing port and has a lively early-morning fish market. Enjoy the views out over the island-studded bay. There are intriguing backstreets and a traditional covered shopping arcade to explore, too. From here, travel by bus to Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, spiritual centre of the Kii-Peninsula and the start of the Kohechi trail.
From here, travel to the Kohechi trail. Your first walk on the ancient route begins at Yagio on a wonderful forested trail over Hatenashi-toge Pass, with excellent valley views, fascinating cultural monuments (including a miniature Kannon statue pilgrimage) and picturesque villages. A brief bus ride avoids a short final stretch on a busier road at the very end of the walk. Finish the day with a relaxing thermal bath at your inn for tonight in Totsukawa Onsen.
Hotel : Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn) in Totsukawa Onsen
|Day 6 (Meals : B/L/D)|
Hike from Nishinaka to Miuraguchi
Walking distance : 11km
Elevation gain : 855m of ascent and 755m of descent
Time required : About 5 hours
Heading onwards from Totsukawa Onsen to Nishinaka by local bus, the section of the Kohechi trail to Miuraguchi offers some of the best views of the Kumano valley over the Miura-toge Pass and continues to the scenic, peaceful village of Miuraguchi or 'Gateway to Miura' where you stay tonight in an intimate Minshuku family-run guesthouse on a small farm.
Hotel : Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse) in Miuraguchi
|Day 7 (Meals : B/D)|
Hike from Miuraguchi to Nosegawa Onsen
Walking distance : 13.7km
Elevation gain : 1,150m of ascent and 850m of descent
Time required : About 6-7 hours
After breakfast you leave Miuraguchi. The trail continues north along one of the most rural and challenging hikes in the Kumano region over the Obako-toge Pass to another scenic rural village called Omata. The hot-spring village of Nosegawa Onsen is your destination for tonight and is a short scenic riverside walk onwards from Omata. Your inn will pick you up from Omata if you prefer not to walk the last section to Nosegawa Onsen.
Hotel : Onsen Hotel in Nosegawa
|Day 8 (Meals : B/L/D)|
Hike from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya
Walking distance : 7.3km from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya (with an optional additional paved section of 9.2km)
Elevation gain : 325m of ascent and 465m of descent
Time required : About 3 hours (6-7 hours including the optional additional section)
Leave Nosegawa Onsen this morning and begin todays hike from the boundary between Nosegawa and Koya - it is also possible to walk the full distance from Nosegawa Onsen if you prefer a longer hike with some strenuous paved sections. On the final leg of the Kohechi trail to Mount Koya there are magical valley views as you traverse the peak Mizu-ga-mine. Arriving at the mountain-top temple town at the end of the walk delivers a great sense of achievement. Spiritual Mount Koya is a fitting reward for completing the pilgrimage route.
Hotel : Shukubo in Mount Koya
|Day 9 (Meals : B)|
Hike on the Choishi-michi trail, then travel to Osaka or Kyoto
Walking distance : 15.5km
Elevation gain : 1,225m of ascent and 650m of descent
Time required : About 5 hours of optional walking
On your final day, you have chance to explore more of Mount Koya, visiting the atmospheric Okunoin cemetery with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries, and other monuments. Or undertake our optional, challenging hike on the Choishi Michi trail, the atmospheric original approach to Mount Koya lined with stone markers. Finally board the scenic Nankai railway line towards Osaka and Kyoto.
Hotel : N/A
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