6 Days


Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

From $2190 pp

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6 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.


Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $2190 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Client Experiences
  • Itinerary
  • Inclusions
  • Kumano resources
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar walks


The Highlights Trip

This itinerary is a great option for those who are a little short on time or who prefer to not walk the full length of the trail | Experience a traditional boat ride up the Kumano-gawa river, which offers a different perspective of Kumano’s spiritual landscape | Visit all three grand shrines that are collectively known as the Kumano Sanzan

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 hypermodern cities. The Kumano Kodo’s rugged, forested mountains, quiet rural valleys, rivers and waterfalls provide a spectacular backdrop for hikers. The seasonal contrasts of cherry blossom in the spring and rich autumn foliage inject wonderful colour along the hiking route. 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.

Yellow hiker icon We are Japan experts! As the first Australian walking company to offer the Kumano Kodo in 2013, we are the most established operator on this trail and have the best local contacts, advice and resources.

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Get Ready For

  • Experience a traditional boat ride up the Kumano-gawa river
  • Visit three grand shrines; collectively known as the Kumano Sanzan
  • Delicious handmade Japanese food with fresh local ingredients
  • Traditional guesthouses; lots of character and friendly hosts
  • Soak in an onsen to soothe your muscles (and spirit!)
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
Journalist Jayne D’Arcy discovers her inner pilgrim along the Kumano Kodo trail.


Daily details

Important info

The Kumano Kodo is a popular walk at certain times of year and guesthouses/hotels sometimes get fully booked. This itinerary is a guide to a possible route. Details may change and the actual accommodations booked may vary from what is written here, dependent on client numbers, wishes and availability. This adjustment with accommodations may alter the exact distance walked in a day so the above itinerary should be used as an indication only to overnight stops/distances.

Day 1: Arrive Kii-Tinabe

The best way to reach Kii-Tanabe is by train (tickets not included and can be purchased locally). There are frequent trains from Kansai Airport, Osaka and Kyoto travelling southwards to Kii-Tanabe. 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 to 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 will be scheduled with the staff here. This evening is free for you to explore the town – enjoy the wonderful atmosphere at the Ajikoji Restaurant and Entertainment District, and perhaps stroll down to Ogigahama Beach for sunset views.


It is an early morning start today and after checking out and picking up your lunch box, you will take a 40-minute bus ride to Takijiri (paid locally), start of the walk. The first section of today’s walk will be a climb up from Takijiri-oji to Takahara, a rural hamlet on a ridge, noted for its ancient shrine surrounded by giant kusu-noki, or camphor trees, 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.

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. This ancient statue shows Kazan, one of the first abdicated emperors to pilgrimage to Kumano, sitting astride both a horse and a cow. 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! Accommodation tonight is in a small local minshuku guest house. If Tsugizakura accommodation is full on your chosen dates or if you are travelling with a larger group, you may stay in Chikatsuyu instead on this night.

Meals: L, D


Today’s walk will bring you along many forest paths and eventually some mountain top villages before descending to Hongu. The walks starts with climbs over a number of passes and currently 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. At this point you also have the option to take a local bus (paid locally) as the road intersects here, or carry on down into the valley to Hongu. You will continue through small settlements and get your first glimpse of the great Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine and the giant torii gate called Oyunohara 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 (paid locally) to our evening destination at nearby Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen, charming little hot spring villages.

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. For you it will be more a preparation for a delicious Japanese meal in your accommodation.

Meals: B, L, D


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 3000 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


After a short bus ride (paid locally) to reach the Kawabune Boat Tour Centre, embark on a traditional boat ride down the Kumano-gawa River. For over 1000 years pilgrims have been making the journey to Kumano and the Kumano-gawa River has been a vital section of the pilgrimage route between Kumano Hongu Taisha in Hongu and Kumano Hayatama Taisha in Shingu. You will journey in a traditional wooden flat-bottom boat as pilgrims have been doing for centuries.

The boat tour finishes in Shingu, close to the Kumano Hayatama Shrine, one of the sacred Grand Shrines of the Kumano region. Although the shrine buildings were rebuilt recently, the Hayatama Taisha has occupied the same location since at least the 12th century and the area has been a site of nature worship for much longer. In fact, the nature in and around the shrine is an integral part of this Grand Shrine’s precincts and annual rituals. The ancient 800-year-old Nagi-no-Ki tree highlights the area’s deep tradition of nature worship and is considered a sacred tree of God. Small dolls made from the seeds of this tree are believed to generate luck with the opposite sex or a happily married life to couples. We also recommend visiting the nearby Gotobiki-iwa, a gigantic rock worshipped as a sacred object and located halfway up Gongen Mountain. Is it believed that it was here that the first Kumano deities descended to earth from the heavens. At the base of this monolith is the Kamikura-jinja shrine.

After looking around Shingu, you will catch a bus to Kii-Katsuura (paid locally), your overnight location. If you have the energy, this afternoon you can visit the nearby village of Nachisan and the last one of the Grand Shrines, Kumano Nachi Taisha. In Nachisan you will also find the stunning Buddhist temple Seiganto-ji and behind the temple you can see the Nachi-no-otaki fall; with a vertical drop of 133m, it is the tallest waterfall in Japan.

Meals: B, D


Today enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then transfer by train to your onwards destination. Train tickets are not included and can be purchased locally at the Kii-Katsuura train station.

Meals: B


What's included

  • 1 night in Kii-Tanabe (twin share, shared bathroom)
  • 3 nights in traditional Japanese guesthouses (twin share, shared bathroom)
  • 1 night in Kii-Katsuura (guesthouse, twin share)
  • Traditional boat ride from Hongu area to Shingu
  • Daily meals included as listed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers on the Kumano Kodo on all trekking days and from Hongu area to Kii-Katsuura
  • Briefing in Kii-Tanabe at the start of your walk
  • RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app
  • Pre-departure pack including Kumano Kodo guidebook, luggage tags and RAW Travel buff (1 pack per 2 clients travelling together)
  • Local bus tickets
  • Train tickets to/from trail
  • Flights to/from destination
  • Travel insurance
  • Single supplement
  • Beverages other than water at meals
  • Expenses and items of a personal nature
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.


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

The Extended Trip - Kumano Kodo
The Kyoto and Koyasan Trip - Kumano Kodo
Japan boat cruise

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

We loved everything about this experience on the beautiful, unspoilt Kii Peninsular. The scenery was wonderful, the trails varied and interesting and satisfyingly challenging. The immersion in Japanese culture was authentic and rewarding and our hosts, accommodation and food were simply superb.  The support and options provided by RAW Travel were much appreciated as an unfortunate knee injury just prior to our trip meant some modifications to original plans. The self-guided option was the perfect balance for us. We really appreciated the fact that the support was certainly adequate to give us the confidence to do what we did but not so organised and complete as to detract from the sense of adventure we felt from being independent and able to negotiate our way around local transport, sights and activities and to explore the things that were of greatest interest to us.

Kathy & Dimitrie Vicol, ACT – March 2016

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

Loved meeting the people at the homes I stayed in – they were just genuinely nice caring people. Arrived frozen and soggy wet at second place – amazing food and the chef’s lovely wife took my clothes away, dried them and sent me to their onsen bathtub – heaven!

Barbara Cahalane, Kihikihi (New Zealand) – March 2019

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

The organization for the trip was superb: instructions for each day, where we were staying, the handbook, maps. It was impossible to get lost or miss a connection

Dace Ozols, Bulimba (QLD) – May 2018

Customer Star Rating of 5   

Customer Testimonials

What an amazing experience. Thank you RAW Travel and Kumano Travel for coordinating and facilitating our itinerary. The attention to detail – from the documented trip summary through to the maps and bus timetables and including the one-on-one tour orientation provided upon our arrival into Kii-Tanabe was invaluable. We would highly recommend and use Raw Travel again based on our experience. Thanks once again for the wonderful opportunity. We will cherish the moments we experienced along this magnificent and ancient trail.

John and Antonella Mihalinac, Moonee Ponds (VIC) – April 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


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