Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Kumano Kodo Trail self guided walk in Japan
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Highlights

  • Following in the footsteps of Japan’s Imperial family on the Kumano Kodo Trail.
  • Walking through stunning rural scenery - Japan as it once was.
  • Relaxing in an outdoor bath at Yunomine Onsen.
  • Exploring the Grand Shrine at Hongu
  • Sumptuous evening meals beautifully presented in traditional minshuku

Walk the 11th century Kumano Kodo pilgrim’s trail through rural Japan to the three grand shrines of Kumano, staying overnight in traditional Japanese minshuku and ryokan. Perfect if you are making your own arrangements as part of a longer trip to Japan.

Following part of the Nakahechi route (one of five pilgrimage routes leading to the Grand Shrine), you will experience five wonderful days of walking along village paths and forested mountain trails. Discover mountain-top villages, soothing hot springs and sacred temples before finishing at Nachi shrine on the coast.

Each night stay in small minshuku or ryokan and enjoy impeccable service, beautiful rooms and delicious food to finish off your day.

DAY 1:
Takijiri Oji to Takahara

Taking the train from Kyoto or Osaka, you will travel to the mystical Kii Peninsula. Your train will hug the coastline until you reach the small town of Tanabe. From there you will board a bus (payable locally) and then start the walk on the Kumano pilgrimage route from Takijiri. From the start at Takijiri Oji, the path climbs steeply up to the ridge-top village of Takahara (2 hours). Stay at a lovely ryokan with both Japanese and western style rooms,


Walk: 4.5km, 370m ascent, 2 hours


Dinner & Overnight:Takahara


N:B There is very limited accommodation in Takahara so if the inn there is full the itinerary will be changed to the following;


Day 1: Take train to Tanabe on the Kii Peninsula and overnight 


Day 2: Take early morning bus to Takijiri and walk to Chikatsuyu: 14.5km, 6-7 hours


Day 3 onwards: as per below


DAY 2:
Takahara to Chikatsuyu

The Nakaheji has been established as one of Japan 's National Historic Roads and here the paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier. Today is an undulating walk through gorgeous rural scenery passes and encountering several oji shrines before descending to the small village of Chikatsuyu.


Walk: 10 km, 480m ascent, 520m descent, 4-5 hours


Dinner & Overnight: Chikatsuyu


DAY 3:
Chikatsuyu to Yunomine

Today’s walk is quite tough but well worth the effort! An initial climb takes you up through the mountains to Mikoshi-touge (pass). From here the path levels off slightly before reaching the grand shrine Kumano Hongu Taisha at the heart of the sacred Kii 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 shrine, you take a bus (payable locally) to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest natural hot spring onsen villages in Japan.


Walk: 24 km, 820m ascent, 1060m descent, 8 hours. (Possible to shorten to 21 or 7 km using local buses.)


Dinner & Overnight:Yunomine


Located in the hot spring village of Yunomine, Yoshinoya has its own hot spring baths with a 'rotenburo' outside bath to enjoy after a day's hiking.


DAY 4:
Free day in Yunomine

An extra day in your wonderful onsen Ryokan in Yunomine is a welcome break after a few days on the trail. You can do some sightseeing, or simply sit back and relax. Or for those still feeling energetic there is an optional short walk available to Dainichi-goe shrine.


Dinner & Overnight:Yunomine


DAY 5:Transfer to Koguchi, walk to Nachi-san

An early transfer takes you to Koguchi this morning to continue your walk. The final section of the Kumano Kodo trail takes you over the Ogumotorigoe Pass, where you should catch 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, Japan’s highest.


Walk: 15.1 km, 980m ascent, 920m descent, 6 hours


Dinner & Overnight:Kii-Katsuura


DAY 6:
Transfer to Osaka


Today you have a final short walk of 45 minutes from Nachi shrine to the coast at Kii-Katsuura where you board the train to Osaka (4h) or Kyoto where your trip ends.


Walk: 45 minutes


Overnight: Not included

Accommodation

We use local family-run accommodations on the walking section. They are generally simply furnished and less formal, but have excellent food and a wonderful personal service.



 

 

 



Organic Hotel Kiri-no-sato Takahara



Organic Hotel Kiri-no-sato Takahara

Run by local Jian Shino who speaks English, Spanish and Chinese (as well as his native Japanese), this welcoming ryokan/hotel has both western and Japanese style rooms, and wonderful organically-grown local food. If you are lucky, Shino-san may even serenade you with some flamenco guitar!


 

 

 


 

 

 



Minshuku Chikatsuyu



Minshuku Chikatsuyu

In the small town of Chikatsuyu, this minshuku (guesthouse) has its own hot spring baths next door, and some of the freshest and tastiest food you will enjoy in Japan!


 

 

 


 

 

 



Yoshinoya (Yunomine)



Yoshinoya (Yunomine)

Located in the hot spring village of Yunomine, Yoshinoya has its own hot spring baths with a 'rotenburo' outside bath to enjoy after a day's hiking.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Momofuku (Koguchi)



Momofuku (Koguchi)

Momofuku is a small (3 rooms) minshuku in the village of Koguchi with the warmest of welcomes.


 

 

 


 

 

 






Hotel Urashima

This hotel appears to float in the bay off Kii-Katsuura and you reach the hotel by private shuttle boat from the pier. There are six hot spring baths (all gender-segregated) and the hotel is famous for two of the baths which are open-air and set in a cave.


 

 

 

Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her
experience of some of the more traditional style accommodations, Minshuku and Ryokan, on the blog.


Meals

Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on the Kumano Kodo Trail. Your trip includes all breakfasts and 5 evening meals whilst on the trail.


Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast in western-style hotels usually includes more familiar choices.


Dinner and breakfast in ryokan and minshuku are set meals, usually with a whole succession of different dishes which will delight you. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.

Availability

This trip is available year-round but we recommend April to November. The region may experiene occasional snow from December to March.


Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December - 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (09-17 August)


Time of Year

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May when the cherry blossom is in bloom. However the autumn colours in October and November are also lovely. It can get quite hot and humid in July and August. August and September is peak typhoon season, but this very rarely has a serious impact on the walks.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

The walk is graded moderate but it does involve some days with fairly steep ascents and descents.The terrain can also be quite tricky underfoot as wet tree roots can be quite slippy at times.  The longer walking days can be shortened if you want to cut down the distance. On most days you will be walking between 2 and 6 hours although there is one longer day of up to 8.5 hours so you should be an experienced walker to get the most from this trip.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The route is partly way marked (in English and Japanese) and we provide detailed route notes and topographic maps so you should have no problem following the trail.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.


Baggage Transfers

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard and you
have a couple of options here. The first option is to arrange luggage
transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in
Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs
approx £12 per day. With this service your bags will not be moved each
day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple
of nights later. On the Kumano Kodo tour we recommend forwarding your
luggage from Kyoto
(or wherever you are staying before the walk) to Yunomine Onsen. You
then carry overnight essentials for your nights in Takahara and
Chikatsuyu. You then forward your luggage from Yunomine Onsen to
wherever you are staying after the walk; you carry your overnight
essentials for your nights in Koguchi and Nachi. Our information pack
has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy.
Your accommodation during the walk provide robes to wear in the evening
and shoes are not worn inside, so you only need your hiking gear and can
travel very light.


The other option is to arrange a daily
baggage transfer service if you prefer to access your bag every night
and this can be booked in advance through ourselves. Daily Luggage
Transfer offers clients the option of bringing luggage by train and bus
to the trail, and then having it transferred from inn to inn on a daily
basis. However, as it can be quite difficult to navigate public
transport with luggage, we recommend Takkubin as the most convenient
method. On the Kumano Kodo this service is available from Takijiri
through to Nachi-San. You will need to carry your bags with you on the
last day.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof cloths, and lightweight clothing for summer.

Getting to and from Japan

By Air:

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations.
You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto (3h30).


The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.


Getting around:


Your package includes train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka to the start of the walk and from the end of the walk back to Osaka or Kyoto. The public transport system in Japan is world class and your pre-departure information pack and itinerary has detailed information on tickets, trains and how to use public transport easily and what trains/buses to take from Kyoto/Osaka to Kii-Tanabe at the start of the walk.


Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.


Visas


Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.


British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit www.fco.gov.uk for up to date information.

Included

  • 5 Nights minshuku (guest house) accommodation on the Kumano Kodo trail.
  • 5 Breakfasts
  • 5 evening meals
  • Train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka
  • Detailed information pack with local travel information, detailed route notes, topographical maps and hints and tips.
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, area manager.

Excluded

  • International flights and travel to Kyoto/from Osaka
  • Drinks with meals
  • Lunches
  • Local buses on day 3, 5 & 6 should be paid locally (around ¥2500, £18 or $28).
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged locally or you can pre-book as an optional extra
  • Travel insurance

Extras

  • Additional nights on the trail or in Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka (prices on request for Kyoto and Osaka)
  • Single room supplement(s) if required
  • Daily Luggage Transfers (Takijiri to Nachi-San)

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is extremely popular especially during spring and autumn. However, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans.

How fit do I need to be?

The walk is graded moderate but it does involve some days with fairly steep ascents and descents.The terrain can also be quite tricky underfoot as wet tree roots can be quite slippy at times.  The longer walking days can be shortened if you want to cut down the distance. On most days you will be walking between 2 and 6 hours although there is one longer day of up to 8.5 hours so you should be an experienced walker to get the most from this trip.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights from international destinations. You can also fly into Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto (3h30).

Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?

Yes, please just let us know at the time of booking. Most food during the walk is Japanese style. It is worth mentioning however that many dishes do contain the ubiquitous Japanese fish stock called dashi which is an ingredient in many soups and sauces so it is helpful if you are able to accept dishes containing this.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

No, our detailed info pack and a little bit of effort on your part will get you by. Most signs are also in English. Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of travelling in Japan with little language skills on the blog.

Baggage Transfers

Luggage transfer is not included during your walk as standard and you have a couple of options here. The first option is to arrange luggage transfers by a service called Takkyubin which is a courier service in Japan and can only be booked in Japan. This is cheap, reliable and costs approx £12 per day. With this service your bags will not be moved each day but instead will be waiting for you at your accommodation a couple of nights later. On the Kumano Kodo tour we recommend forwarding your luggage from Kyoto (or wherever you are staying before the walk) to Yunomine Onsen. You then carry overnight essentials for your nights in Takahara and Chikatsuyu. You then forward your luggage from Yunomine Onsen to wherever you are staying after the walk; you carry your overnight essentials for your nights in Koguchi and Nachi. Our information pack has full details of how to use this service, which is really easy. Your accommodation during the walk provide robes to wear in the evening and shoes are not worn inside, so you only need your hiking gear and can travel very light.

The other option is to arrange a daily baggage transfer service if you prefer to access your bag every night and this can be booked in advance through ourselves. Daily Luggage Transfer offers clients the option of bringing luggage by train and bus to the trail, and then having it transferred from inn to inn on a daily basis. However, as it can be quite difficult to navigate public transport with luggage, we recommend Takkubin as the most convenient method. On the Kumano Kodo this service is available from Takijiri through to Nachi-San. You will need to carry your bags with you on the last day. 

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack, warm clothing in the early/late part of the year and hats etc during the summer. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack.  

When is the best time of year?

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the autumn colours in October and November are also lovely. It can get quite hot and humid in July and August.Overall, the best months to travel are either April-June or September-November.

We loved this trail, and recommend it to you

5

This product is for those who wish to enjoy the wonderful Kumano Kodo pilgrim trail between Osaka and Kyoto; who are confident enough to walk without a guide (as most people on the trail are); who live outside Japan (e.g. us--Australia) ; and don't have the access to detailed local information nor the time to organise e.g. transfers from Tokyo via ShinKansen (bullet train) ; local buses to the beginning of the hike; maps; nor the knowledge of the local mountain "pensions" (Minshukus) . Macs Adventures package all these things really well and provide solid back office support via Ms Nicola Allan (for whom nothing was too much --we had a last minute glitch from our side that complicated things and Nicola moved heaven and earth to make it all go smoothly) . Macs also have and also have an uber helpful local representative, Noriko, in Oku Chikatsuyu , a village on the trail. Noriko is professional , fluent in English and was so very helpful to us --eg she came with to the Post Office with us and helped us ship unneeded goods to lighten our trail packs. Macs local partner in Japan is Daniel Kolosi , who is also super friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Nothing is too much for these folk.

Syd & Holly

Sydney

true

A beautiful and serene hike

5

The Kumano Kodo is a beautiful and serene hike. The mountains of Japan are beautiful and still. Walking among Buddhist shrines and moments added the most beautiful spirituality to the experience. I loved the local accommodations and amazing food. Definitely a wonderful experience.

Rachel Durchslag

Asheville, NC

true

Great Trip - Exceeded our expectations

5

This was our second trip arranged by Macs Adventures. All the accomodations and food were great - range from small Ryokans to larger resort-style hotels. We were greeted warmly at each of the night's accomodations and the meals (dinner + breakfast + snack for the trail) were fresh and well presented.

Tom

California

true

Beauty and the Beast

5

The Kumano Kodo is one beautiful route that was traveled for centuries for a reason! The Kumano Shrines, and especially Nachisan-Taisha, are one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. So grateful. Hiking at its best, with flexibility to adjust for many experience levels, but still for experienced hikers only! Local accommodations provided a true authentic Japanese experience that will forever stay with me. Book early! I recommend up to 4-6 months in advance, to tailor your appropriate path. Shorter runway also OK, but prepare to be flexible.

nirnear

Seattle

true

Amazing!

5

An amazing hike through beautiful scenery. The trip was very well organised by the local provider who went above and beyond when we left our wallet at one of the guesthouses! The trip was physically demanding at times, achievable for most and well worth the effort. Onsens every night made all the difference! Would happily recommend this trip to others.

Leon & Athena

Port Fairy, Australia.

true

Unique and Memorable-Not your average hike!

5

Truly a unique experience! You are immersed in Japanese culture. We went in January, it was quite cold, some snow on the trail, and most inns were nearly empty. The food was traditional Japanese, and really excellent - but you have to be a person who loves fish and tries everything. Bedrooms were also traditional Japanese - that is, no beds till you fold them out and either no chairs or a floor-back chair. Not too much to do after the day's hike, very small towns. We would take a good onsen bath, eat a great dinner, email and read, and sleep very well! A lot of hills, but most days weren't too long. We carried light packs with everything we needed (which wasn't a lot as inns gave you kimonos and sandals). I thought winter was a good time to go, as I don't like hiking in the heat. Route was very well sign posted, in both English and Japanese. Not an easy hike, but so non-western, I'll never forget it! Memorable and Unique!

Trudi

California

true

It was tough but GREAT.

4

It was an incredible hike. Tough YES on some days, especially the last day with the detour, but soooooo good.

Sunny

Sechelt, BC, Canada

true

A wonderful trip!

5

My parents and I had a wonderful time with Mac's adventure on the Kumano Kodo, despite the best efforts of Typhoon 21, which took two days of our hike out by making two sections unsafe to hike at the time. That said, Macs did everything in their power to ensure our trip went well, we had great accommodations and enjoyed the hiking that we could do, though it was a bit more strenuous than I had anticipated. Loved it. The kumano kodo trail has some simply stunning scenery, and I highly recommend traveling with a journal or getting the book to collect the stamps along the way. Also, definitely get the luggage forwarding, I wish I had!

Geek Nomad

Albuquerque

true

Excellant hiking trip in a remote region of Japan

5

Very well organised trip and the booklets provided great information for the entire trip, including; walking directions, how to use the busses in Japan, and particularly the information regarding the courier service for transferring luggage across Japan was very useful. Could have been more information about the snakes and wildlife.

Jimmy

Wolverhampton

true

Fantastic trip

5

With fantastic misty mountain views, stunning trails through cedar woodland dotted with wayside shrines, and a selection of welcoming accommodations serving fantastic food and offering classic onsen bathing - this trip offers an experience of remote mountain life. it was an unforgettable experience. There are easy options to catch a local bus to shorten or miss out a day's walk.

ru

oxford

Kumano Kodo Trail - Kyoto to Osaka

4.6 31

96.7

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