length

6 Days

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

trip cost

From $1995 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

6 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Moderate - Challenging

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $1995 pp

Self-Guided Trip

our walk experts

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Inclusions
  • Exclusive Guide
  • Similar walks

Overview

The Highlights Trip

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.

This itinerary is perfect for those who wish to explore the beautiful Kumano region combining walking with other activities and explorations. Walk from Takijiri-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha over 2 days, explore the beautiful Hongu region, take a traditional boat ride down to Shingu before finishing up in the coastal fishing village of Kii-Katsuura.

Le _Puy_gallery0042

Highlights

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!)

Itinerary

The Highlights Trip

Week 1
Day 1
ARRIVE IN KII-TANABE

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 2.5-3 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.

Day 2
WALK TAKIJIRI-OJI TO TSUGIZAKURA-OJI (17KM)

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.

6-8 hours walking

Meals: L D

Day 3
WALK TSUGIZAKURA-OJI TO KUMANO HONGU TAISHA (21.5KM)

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.

9 hours walking

Meals: B L D

Day 4
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 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

Day 5
TRADITIONAL BOAT RIDE (HONGU AREA TO SHINGU); OVERNIGHT KII-KATSUURA

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, which is the tallest in Japan at 133 meters high.

Meals: B D

Day 6
DEPART KII-KATSUURA

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

Important Note: 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.

Inclusions

What you get

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
  • 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
  • Single supplement
  • Beverages other than water at meals
  • Expenses and items of a personal nature
Added Extras

Flights, tours, rail passes, other extras/packages

Kumano-Kodo-Destination-Guide-Cover

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

Similar walks

Japan

10 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Extended Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Self-Guided
  • Hike the full length of the Nakahechi route
  • Enjoy a day on the challenging Kohechi route
  • Journey along the Kumano-gawa river in a traditional boat
  • Experience the life of a monk by staying in a Buddhist monastery
from

$3,495.00

view trip
7 Days

Kumano Kodo

The 7 Day Trail – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Self-Guided
  • Walk the full length of the Nakahechi trail
  • Stay in traditional guesthouses
  • Gain insights into life in rural Japan and the spiritual history
  • Enjoy delicious handmade Japanese food with fresh local ingredients
from

$2,250.00

view trip
8 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Dual Pilgrim Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Group Self Guided
  • Participate in a Purification ceremony
  • Experience Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival
  • Annual festival held in Hongu to honour the Kumano Deities
  • Receive a commemorative Dual Pilgrim shirt and Tenegui
from

$2,895.00

view trip
12 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Kyoto and Koyasan Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Self-Guided
  • Explore Kyoto, the culture and historical heart of the country
  • Visit temples, shrines and traditional gardens
  • Stay at a Japanese Buddhist temple
  • Learn about traditional daily rituals, join a spiritual ceremony
from

$3,995.00

view trip
12 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Mike Rhodes Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Group Guided
  • Hike the full length of the Nakahechi route
  • Enjoy a day on the more challenging Kohechi route
  • Gain a great understanding of this ancient pilgrimage trail
  • Be enlightened by the experience, enthusiasm and knowledge of your local guide Mike Rhodes
from

$5,695.00

view trip
8 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Spring Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Group Self Guided
  • A great option for solo travellers
  • Stay in traditional guesthouses
  • Spring is a wonderful time to hike the Nakahechi Trail
  • Enjoy delicious handmade Japanese food with fresh local ingredients
from

$2,495.00

view trip
8 Days

Kumano Kodo

The Autumn Trip – Kumano Kodo

Challenging - Strenuous Group Self Guided
  • Stay in traditional guesthouses
  • Beautiful, changing colours are a highlight for people on this trek
  • Enjoy delicious handmade Japanese food with fresh local ingredients
  • A great option for solo travellers or enjoy the company and support of others
from

$2,495.00

view trip

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

SELECT PREFERRED DATES

sign up to our newsletter

explore the world with Raw