length

8 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

from $2790 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

8 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

from $2790 pp

Group, Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • CLIENT EXPERIENCES
  • Itinerary
  • Inclusions
  • Kumano resources
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar Walks

Overview

The Autumn Trip

Experience walking the Kumano Kodo in Autumn. The beautiful, changing colours are a highlight for people on this trek.

Our popular group, self-guided departures are a great option for those who are travelling solo or enjoy the company and support of other like-minded travellers

The Kumano Kodo is a journey through a thousand years of Buddhist history and offers a window into traditional Japan that contrasts strongly with its hyper modern cities. The Kumano Kodo’s rugged, forested mountains, quiet rural valleys, rivers and waterfalls provide a spectacular backdrop for hikers. Arriving at your destination each day the traditional local guesthouses offer reviving onsens and wonderful local food. Hiking the Kumano Kodo really is a great immersion into Japanese culture.

This self-guided walking trip combines the freedom and flexibility of a self-guided trek with the support and company of other like-minded travellers. Travelling on your own? No trouble. We will pair you up with another solo traveller of the same gender on a twin share basis.

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Beautiful, changing colours are a highlight for people on this trek
  • A great option for solo travellers
  • Enjoy delicious handmade Japanese food with fresh local ingredient
  • Traditional guesthouses with lots of character and friendly host
  • Soak in an onsen to soothe your muscles (and spirit!) after a day of walking
Robyn and Jan

CLIENT EXPERIENCES

ON THE TRAIL

Join RAW Travellers Robyn and Jan as they walk the Kumano Kodo in Japan to find out what they’ve enjoyed the most on this iconic walking trail.

READ: ‘A Sacred Journey’, Jetstar Magazine April 2017
Journalist Jayne D’Arcy discovers her inner pilgrim along the Kumano Kodo trail.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Week 1: NAKAHECHI ROUTE
Day 1: ARRIVE IN KII-TANABE

The best way to reach Kii-Tanabe is by train – there are frequent trains from Kansai Airport, Osaka and Kyoto travelling southwards to Kii-Tanabe (train tickets not included and can be purchased locally). Here the railway line parallels the coast and avoids the steep mountainous interior. The nearest major International Airport is Kansai (Osaka), from where you can take a 2 hour train journey to Kii-Tanabe. Train travel from Osaka to Kii-Tanabe takes just over 2 hours and from Kyoto approximately 2.5-3 hours.

Kii-Tanabe is the gateway town to the Imperial Route of the Kumano Kodo and a city surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains on the other. The town is also home to the Tanabe Tourist Information Center – your tour orientation is scheduled with the staff here. You will be transferred to your accommodation for the evening.

Meals: D

Day 2: WALK TAKIJIRI-OJI TO TAKAHARA (4KM)

You will have time to explore the area this morning before travelling to Takijiri to commence your walk. Today’s walk is short in distance but a fairly steep uphill climb up to Takahara, a rural hamlet on a ridge, noted for its ancient shrine and a spectacular view over the surrounding Hatenashi Mountain Ranges. Reminders of the past, including Buddhist statues and Oji shrines, line the route along the ancient highway as you climb upwards

2 hours walking

Meals: B L D

Day 3: WALK TAKAHARA TO NONAKA AREA (13KM)

Leaving Takahara behind, you head further into the mountains along the old trail, past bamboo forest and then into the pencil pine. You continue to pass by reminders of the old highway, including an ichirizuka distance marker and the sites of old former tea houses, which provided rest and shelter to pilgrims up until the early 20th century. Continuing on you crest the Hashiori-Toge pass after a short climb. The trail then descends past the Three-Fold Moon viewing area, from where it is a short climb to the small but famous Gyuba-doji statue. Your descent takes you along a cobbled path and staircase to Chikatsuyu, a small village and one of the few places where you can get limited supplies or drinks. Your final stretch of the day takes you on a climb to Tsugizakura-oji and your accommodation for the evening. Nearby is a grove of giant cedar trees, some of which are reputed to be 800 years old.

6-8 hours walking

Meals: B L D

Day 4: WALK NONAKA AREA TO KUMANO HONGU TAISHA (25KM)

Today’s walk will bring you along many forest paths and eventually some mountain top villages before descending to Hongu. The walk starts with climbs over a number of passes and there is a detour in place due to landslides on the main path. There are few facilities on the first part of today’s route which is through the forest before eventually leading you to the shrine at Hosshinmon-oji. You will continue through small settlements and get your first glimpse of the great Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine and the giant torii gate in the valley below.

Kumano Hongu Taisha is the main shrine in the area, to which all roads in the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage lead. A long stone staircase leads to the sacred grounds of the shrine, located on a ridge and surrounded by giant cedar and cypress trees. After looking around the impressive shrine you will jump on a local bus to our evening destination at nearby Kawayu Onsen, a charming little hot spring village.

Arriving at your overnight location is a treat for tired walkers as the steam billows from the thermal rivers and there is the promise of a relaxing onsen after your exertions. The onsen thermal hot spring baths are an important part of the Kumano Kodo traditions with pilgrims performing hot water purification rituals in preparation for visiting the shrine. This evening enjoy a delicious Japanese meal in your accommodation.

9 hours walking

Meals: B L D

 

Day 5: REST DAY IN HONGU AREA

Today you can either completely relax and take in the local onsens or perhaps return to Hongu village for further explorations. If you wish to stretch your legs a little then walk back to Hongu on the Dainichi-goe route from Yunomine Onsen – this is a steep but delightful walk, passing some remarkable old carved statues at Hanakake Jizo, overgrown by tree roots.

Hongu village is home to the Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the Kumano Sanzan, three grand shrines of Kumano, and head shrine of over 3,000 Kumano shrines across Japan. Kumano was said to be the entrance gateway to the land of Yomi, the ‘other world’, which spirits travelled to in Japanese mythology. Across the Kumano Hongu Shrine is the Kumano Hongu Heritage Centre, featuring a diversity of exhibitions on the Kumano Kodo – all permanent exhibitions and videos include English translations. Just nearby the centre you will find Oyunohara, the largest torii shrine gate in the world at 34 meters tall, signifying the division of the secular and the spiritual worlds.

Be sure to also visit the tiny Tsuboyu onsen in a wooden cabin at the centre of town in Yunomine Onsen, which is the only UNESCO world heritage listed spa and the oldest in Japan at 1200 years old! The bath can be booked for a 30-minute private bathing and works on a first come first serve basis.

Meals: B D

Day 6: WALK HONGU AREA TO KOGUCHI (13KM)

This morning you will take a short bus ride to Ukegawa to begin your walk. The Kogumotori-goe section is a fairly gentle trek with a climb and descent over a pass, and is mostly in the forested mountains with some nice ridge-walking sections.

The highlight of today’s walk is the Hyakken-gura pass, where a beautifully positioned Buddhist statue on a hilltop has a backdrop of the most spectacular views of the trip. The impressive Hyakken-gura look out surprises walkers with a lovely panoramic view of the 3600 peaks of Kumano. Take a moment to enjoy this stunning view, as pilgrims have been doing for over 1000 years.

The trail continues to rise and fall, sometimes gradual and the off time steeper when you continue towards the Sakura-jaya teahouse remains. The views from the Sakura-jaya teahouse remains down to the valley and across the mountains are impressive. It is said that when the owners of teahouses saw pilgrims approaching from far off in the distance, they would start to cook mochi rice cakes and boil water for tea, to have things ready to serve just as the pilgrims would arrive at the teahouse. From here the trail continues on a forest track and eventually descends into Koguchi, a small and isolated village surrounded by mountains and rivers.

6 hours walking

Meals: B L D

Day 7: WALK KOGUCHI TO KUMANO NACHI TAISHA (14KM)

The Ogumotori-goe is the second day of a two-day trek from the Hongu area to Kumano Nachi Taisha. It is one of the toughest sections of the Nakahechi trail and a big day’s walk so we recommend an early start as you begin with a 2.5-hour uphill climb up the Dogiri-zaka slope. Dogiri-zaka can be directly translated as “Body Breaking Slope”, and is an appropriate name for this 5km uphill section that rises 800 metres to the Echizen-toge Pass.

Afterwards, you pass the Jizo-jaya teahouse remains to the Moja-no-Deai, ‘Abode of the Dead’. It is believed that the souls of the dead gravitate to these higher mountains, where spirits inhabit this section of the trail. The walk continues through forest and along ridges, the path ascending and descending, until at Funami Toge pass the Pacific Ocean spreads out before you.

From here the trail descends to the Nachisan sanctuary and the brightly coloured Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine, another of the three grand shrines of Kumano. Also nearby is the wonderful wooden Seiganto-ji temple and the spectacular Nachi-no-Otaki waterfall, which is the highest in Japan and can be seen from far out on the Pacific Ocean. Tonight you will  overnight in Nachisan near the Kumano Nachi shrine where you can relax and enjoy the completion of your extraordinary Kumano Kodo walk!

7 hours walking

Meals: B L D

 

WEEK 2: DEPART KII-KATSUURA
Day 8: DEPART KII-KATSUURA

This morning you may like to join in the early morning ceremony at the Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine before breakfast. If time allows, you may also like to walk the length of the cobblestoned Daimonzaka path, before taking a 20-minute bus ride to Kii-Katsuura to connect to your onward destination. Train tickets are not included and can be purchased locally at the Kii-Katsuura train station.

Meals: B

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • 1 night in Kii-Tanabe (twin share, ensuite)
  • 4 nights in traditional Japanese guesthouses (twin share, shared bathroom)
  • 2 nights in an onsen village in a traditional ryokan (twin share, ensuite)
  • Daily meals included as listed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers on all trekking days
  • Briefing in Kii-Tanabe at the start of your walk
  • Pre-departure pack including Kumano Kodo guidebook, detailed notes, luggage tags and RAW Travel buff (1 pack per 2 clients travelling together)
Excluded
  • Local bus tickets
  • Train tickets to/from trail
  • Flights to/from destination
  • Travel insurance
  • Beverages other than water at meals
  • Expenses and items of a personal nature
Added Extras

Flights, tours, rail passes, other extras/packages

Kumano book and app

Kumano resources

Finding your way

We have researched and published our own Kumano Kodo Guidebook based on the experiences of many years of running trips here ( we were the first Australian Company to offer the Kumano Kodo) and have now supplemented this with our Walking app, designed to help you navigate easily on the trail showing your location in real-time without any internet connection needed. The app has many great features; it shows you weather forecasts localized for each of your overnight stops, and information on the location of each night’s accommodation. There are important reminders, safety information, videos, and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail.

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Exclusive Guide

get inspired

Japan’s ancient Kumano Kodo trails are nestled in the verdant mountains of the southern part of the beautiful Kii Peninsula, just south of Osaka. This lush and rugged area has been considered the abode of the gods and worshipped for centuries.

Our destination guide is bursting with all you need to know about walking the sacred Nakahechi pilgrimage route, the most popular and accessible of all the routes. You’ll love the peacefulness and tranquillity of the trail, the food (so elegant and refined!), the onsens (a cherished Japanese ritual), and the traditional family run guesthouses, full of character and charm.

Download Now

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The Extended Trip - Kumano Kodo
The Extended Trip - Kumano Kodo
The Kyoto and Koyasan Trip - Kumano Kodo
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The Extended Trip - Kumano Kodo
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The Extended Trip - Kumano Kodo

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We loved walking along 1000-year-old paths that had previously been followed by emperors, princesses, monks, nuns and poets. The forest is very peaceful and a beautiful part of Japan. It has the most beautiful old trees and it is very green with moss on rocks everywhere. There are several markers along the track, which were interesting to read. We saw monkeys, deer and lots of birds that we weren’t expecting and even though we were quite remote we would bump into follow travellers at rest spots along the way. Everyone we met was lovely and we really enjoyed interacting with the locals who also were walking the track. We would share lollies even though very limited English was spoken. Part of the walk is called “Pass over clouds” and some days we felt like we were in the sky with the most amazing views across the peaks. Every day we enjoyed different things, we loved it. And for the record I’m not that active but the walk is very doable, just go at your own pace.

Leanne Lester, Numurkah (VIC) – March 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

RAW Travel were tremendous to deal with. Information was sent out in stages, which meant we didn’t get lost in a pile of paperwork. We were even advised, in a timely manner, about a suitable training program. Any questions or concerns were promptly and accurately answered. The trip notes were accurate with regard to walk times and points of interest. The accommodation was really quirky, a nice change from the big hotel chains. The onsens were a highlight and some of our dinners fantastic. Would organise another walk through RAW again. I thought they were particularly good value, even as a single traveller.

Louise McMahon, Traralgon (VIC) – October 2018

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Absolutely loved the Kumano Kodo. Beautiful, mystical, challenging and renewing. The nature and scenery are breathtaking. I walked the trail solo and felt confident to navigate and manage on my own. The accommodation and food were excellent. Nothing better than an outdoor onsen after a long day walking!

Felicity Hale, Clovelly (NSW) – June 2018

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Fabulous service once again by RAW. All accommodation was authentic, as was the Japanese style breakfasts. Our accommodation hosts were fun, welcoming and generous. The little bento box lunches lovingly presented by our hosts were a real highlight of the days hiking schedule and dinner at night – simply amazing array of traditional dishes.

Kellie-Anne Briggs, Rutherglen (VIC) – November 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

RAW Travel did an excellent job of pre-trip planning/dissemination of information. Mark and Chris were quick to respond to all questions and concerns and made me feel well-prepared for the journey. The accommodations, meals and luggage transfers went seamlessly. The accommodations and meals were excellent, and most hosts worked very hard to accommodate vegetarian diets (there were 3 of us on the trip and we always had plenty to eat). The hike was spectacular, and the maps and guidebook provided were excellent resources along the route. Our group of 8 quickly became friends. It was an absolutely fantastic experience. Thanks RAW!

Deborah Shuster, Portland (US) – October 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We feel so privileged to have been able to undertake this hike with the support of RAW Travel. From our first enquiry, Chris was passionate and responsive. We would definitely like to plan another hike with RAW Travel.

Joyce French, Glen Iris (VIC) – October 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

I just loved the experience of walking in Japan, especially walking the Kumano Kodo; it was a personal challenge of mine; and it was wonderful to stay in traditional accommodation.

Gail Bell, Elwood (VIC) – May 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

The Kumano Kodo walk was sensational! It was tough at times but the experience was worth it. Beautiful scenery and fauna. Loved the shrines along the way. At our accommodation, our Japanese hosts could not do enough for us. Food was traditional – being very healthy. With the combination of walking and eating healthily we lost weight.

Suzanne Aidone, Port Melbourne (VIC) – May 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

This was the most amazing walk. Walking through the mountains as you do with the most incredible scenery and the sense of calm in the old forests with the ancient stone paths. A truly spiritual experience. The guesthouses were fabulous and what a way to experience traditional Japanese culture. Everyone was so helpful and respectful and we couldn’t have had a better experience. Our most favourite was guesthouse Mui, as the host and hostess were so charming.

Fiona Ireland, Malvern (VIC) – April 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

What a sensational experience! From meeting and staying with locals who could not be any more helpful to the captivating scenery with historical antidotes to break up the walk all along the way. It gave us a full appreciation of the history of the walk. And the onsen at the end of the day made it easier to back it up the following day!

Neroli Scott, Seddon (VIC) – March 2019

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TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

dates
availability
price
single occupancy
dates
20/11/2022 - 27/11/2022
availability
Limited Places
price
$2,790
single occupancy
$0

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