Kumano Kodo walking 11 Days

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Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 11 Days

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 4 Days of walking ranging from 2 to 7 hours, and we can advise on which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.
We also offer 4-day, 5-day, 6-day and 9-day versions of this trip.

Price : Adult (age 12+)
Price : Adult (age 12+) AUD2,940
Duration : 10 nights 11 Days
Tour Start : Kyoto or Osaka
Tour End : Kyoto or Osaka
Walking days : 11 days
Departure Date : Daily (April - November)
Route : Kyoto or Osaka ⇒ Takijiri ⇒ Takahara ⇒ Chikatsuyu ⇒ Hongu ⇒ Yunomine Onsen ⇒ Akagigoe ⇒ Dainichigoe ⇒ Ukegawa ⇒ Koguchi ⇒ Nachi-san ⇒ Katsuura ⇒ Yagio ⇒ Totsuka Onsen ⇒ Nishinaka ⇒ Miuraguchi ⇒ Nosegawa Onsen ⇒ Mount Koya ⇒ Kyoto or Osaka
Includes : 9 nights accommodation, 9 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches and 10 Dinners, Train tickets (from / to Kyoto or Osaka), Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions, Topographical map, Local phone support
Download : PDF Itinerary
DayEvent / Visit
From Kyoto or Osaka; Kumano Kodo Trail from Takijiri to Takahara

Walking distance : 4.5km
Elevation gain : 370m
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.

Meals : Dinner
Hotel : Takahara
Kumano Kodo Trail 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.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Chikatsuyu
Kumano Kodo Trail from Chikatsuyu to Hongu

Walking distance : 24km
Elevation gain : 820m of ascent and 1,140m of descent
Time required : About 8-9 hours (requiring an early start!) *

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.

* 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!

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Yunomine Onsen
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.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Yunomine Onsen
Kumano Kodo Trail from Ukegawa to Koguchi

Walking distance : 12.4km
Elevation gain : 520m of ascent and 500m of descent
Time required : About 4 hours

Before or after breakfast, take time to explore the atmospheric village where you spent the night. Today's journey begins with a short bus ride to Ukegawa on the banks of the Kumano River. From Ukegawa, you start on the Kogumotorigoe path, which heads up to the Kogumotorigoe Pass before descending to the remote village of Koguchi. The trail is not difficult and today’s hike should take you about 4 hours. A warm welcome and good food await you at a tiny inn run by a charming retired couple, or alternatively at the engaging lodge created from a former school building. Explore along the river and have a swim if the weather is warm.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Koguchi
Kumano Kodo Trail from Koguchi to Nachi-san

Walking distance : 15.1km
Elevation gain : 980m of ascent and 920m of descent
Time required : About 6-7 hours

The final section of the trail takes you from Koguchi up to the Ogumotorigoe Pass with a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. It then descends to Nachi-san, the location of Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano and Nachi-taki waterfall. Stay overnight either in the small village of Nachi-san close to the shrine, or take a local bus for the twenty-minute ride to the port town of Kii-Katsuura with wonderful views over the island-studded bay. Enjoy dinner and breakfast served by your hosts at your accommodation.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Katsuura
Kumano Kodo Trail 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.

Meals : Breakfast
Hotel : Totsukawa Onsen
Kumano Kodo Trail 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.

Meals : Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Hotel : Miuraguchi
Kumano Kodo Trail 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.

Meals : Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Hotel : Katsuura
Kumano Kodo Trail from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya

Walking distance : 7.3km (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.

Meals : Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Hotel : Mount Koya
Kumano Kodo Trail from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya

Walking distance : 15.5km
Elevation gain : 1,225m of ascent and 650m of descent
Time required : About 5 hours

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.

Meals : Breakfast
Hotel : N/A

Most of our accommodation is Japanese style guest house and they are share bathroom.

Takahara Takahara Room Takahara Bath

※ Example images, actual hotels may vary.

DayCityHotel NameHotel Type
1 Takahara Kiri-no-sato Takahara Japanese-style Hotel
2 Chikatsuyu Minshuku Chikatsuyu Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
3-4 Yunomine Yoshinoya Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
5 Koguchi Momofuku Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
6 Katsuura Hotel Nakanoshima Japanese-style Onsen Hotel
7 Totsukawa Onsen Kosenkaku Yoshinoya Ryokan Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
8 Miuraguchi Minshuku Mandokoro Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
9 Nosegawa Onsen Onsen Hotel Nosegawa Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
10 Mount Koya Saizenin Shukubo Shukubo
Tour Operator : Oxalis Holidays Limited
Hotels : 10 nights Japanese-style Rooms
Meal : 9 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 10 Dinners
Participants : Minimum 1
Single Room Supplement : AUD875
Type and level of walking : Challenging - Our Challenging tours have consecutive dedicated days of trail walking, with days of six hours or more and significant ascent and/or descent.
Walking Season : Recommended from April to November
Departures : Any day Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (09 - 17 August). Please enquire for availability and pricing if your trip falls within those dates.
International Flight : We offer the option of purchasing air inclusive tour packages, or land only tour packages, giving our customers the freedom to source their own flights. However, we are always more than happy to arrange your flights.
Optional extra days : We can arrange extra days at the beginning or end of the trip in the following destinations :

Mount Koya
This atmospheric temple complex south of Kyoto is home to around 100 temples and shukubo (pilgrim's lodging). Founded by the monk Kobo Daishi in the 10th century, Mount Koya is the spiritual centre of Shongon (True word) Buddhism, and he is enshrined at Oku-no-in. Located at 800 metres altitude in the Wakayama mountains, you reach Mount Koya via the scenic Nankai railway. There are many optional local walks.

Video courtesy of Oku Japan

Kumanokodo Root
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