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Kumano Kodo Trail (Walk only)

6 Days & 5 Nights 4.7 Read 41 reviews
  • Follow in the footsteps of Japan’s Imperial family on the Kumano Kodo Trail
  • Walk through stunning rural scenery - Japan as it once was
  • Relax in an outdoor bath at Yunomine Onsen
  • Explore 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.

What To Expect

Perfect if you are planning a longer trip to Japan but like the idea of including some walking whilst you are there. The walking is moderate but does involve some days with fairly steep ascents and descents although the longer walking days can be shortened. Overnight accommodation is in very traditional minshuku and ryokan where you will sleep on futons giving you a taste of truly authentic Japan!

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Pilgrim Trail | You will follow a historic pilgrimage trail, in the footsteps of generations of travellers, A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night

Ideal if you have an interest in:

Spiritual Journeys

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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

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.

Accommodation Information

In Kyoto and Osaka, we use carefully selected 3 or 4* western-style hotels. We use local family-run accommodations on the walking section. They are generally simply furnished and less formal, but have excellent food and wonderful personal service.

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.

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.

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, route notes and maps.
  • 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)
  • Daily Luggage Transfers (Takijiri to Nachi-San)

When To Go

This trip is available year-round but we recommend April to November. The region may experience 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).

Weather and Climate

Japan has four distinct seasons, and the weather and temperatures change with the seasons. The weather in Japan is warm in May and September. The rainy season lasts from the middle of June through to mid-July. Towards the end of May, it can become quite hot at lower altitudes (up to about 30°C). It gets cooler in October, and at the beginning of November, it is cold at 1,800m.  You can expect daytime temperatures of about 15-20°C in October, although this does, of course, vary with elevation. Short tropical cyclones can hit Japan between June and October.

We recommend that you check local weather reports before setting out each day. These are available on the local TV and radio news and online. Good websites are www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html, www.yr.no/japanand www.accuweather.com. If there are any tropical cyclones due to pass through whilst you are on your walk, our local partners in Japan will be in touch and advise you if it is unsafe to walk although this is quite rare.

We advise always bringing a waterproof jacket and trousers, and sunscreen!

Getting to the Start

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 from the End

By Air:

Train tickets are included on Day 6 from the trail to Osaka city centre. You can then fly out  Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX), which has flights to many international destinations. You can also fly out of Tokyo Narita (NRT) and take an internal flight or the shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka (3h30).

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

Baggage Transfer

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 on how to use this service, which is really easy. Your accommodation during the walk provides 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.

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 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.

Equipment

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.

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.

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Baggage Transfers

Itinerary

Day 1 Takijiri Oji to Takahara 2.5 miles / 4.5 km Day 2 Takahara to Chikatsuyu 6 miles / 10 km Day 3 Chikatsuyu to Yunomine 15 miles / 24 km Day 4 Free Day in Yunomine Day 5 Transfer to Koguchi, walk to Nachi-san 9 miles / 15 km Day 6 Transfer to Osaka

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