Discovery, Walk of the Week, Walking

Walk of the Week: Kumano Kodo Trail

14 Dec , 2016  

The Kumano Kodo are a series of 5 pilgrimage routes that lead to the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. The Kumano area of the Kii peninsula has been a centre of Shugendo practice for centuries and the remote region remains largely undeveloped with deep valleys, thick forests and rugged mountains. Our walking tour follows the Nakahechi route which winds its way through forests and isolated villages on the way to the Grand Shrine of Hongu before continuing towards the Pacific Ocean and the finishing point at Nachi Grand Shrine. A unique glimpse into rural Japan and the perfect way to wind down after experiencing the frenetic pace of Japan’s cities.


Rural Japan gives an insight into the traditional way of life

Enjoy the slower pace of life along the Kumano Kodo trail

In a Nutshell

Where?

One of the lesser known pilgrimage routes but certainly up there with the most spectacular, the Kumano Kodo was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The Kumano region lies to the south of Kyoto and Osaka. This tour (we also offer a shorter, walk only itinerary) starts in Kyoto with a few days of acclimatising, including a guided tour that takes in the cultural highlights before taking the train south to Osaka and then along the coast to the small town of Tanabe.

The walking begins in Takijiri and the next 6 days are spent wandering through stunning rural scenery, relaxing in traditional, family run accommodations and enjoying quality Japanese cuisine. The final section of the route takes takes you over the Ogumotorigoe Pass giving you a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. From Kii-Katsuura on the coast you take the train to Japan’s food capital, the bustling city of Osaka.

The Kumano Kodo Route

The route goes eastwards towards the Pacific Ocean

Distance?

66 km over the course of 6 days of walking. We understand that a trip to Japan is a special journey and offer multiple options to extend your stay.

Grade?

Although the daily distances on the Kumano Kodo Trail are relatively short, the tour is graded as moderate due to the number of steep ascents and descents and, at times, difficult terrain.

 

Why Walk It?

Traditional Japanese culture & beautiful nature: Walking allows you to experience the tranquil side of Japan. Having spent some time in the bustling urban sprawls that Japan is known for, you will appreciate the remote areas where life follows a slower pace. Take in the smaller details and beauty of rural Japan relaxing fully amidst beautifully quiet forests and natural hot springs along the route.

The rugged terrain of Kumano

The isolated and rugged terrain of Kumano makes for beautiful walking

History & tradition: Follow in the footsteps of Japan’s imperial pilgrims and ancestors who travelled from Kyoto to Kumano to pay their respects at the Grand Shrines at the various points along the route.

The food: The accommodations we have selected along the route are small, family run operations. As such the food is made to order using traditional and local ingredients with a strong focus on bringing out the flavours of individual ingredients and of course, the freshest fish. For more on the traditional Japanese accommodations along the Kumano Kodo trail and the emphasis they place on a personalised service and delicious food, see Laura’s blog on her experiences in Japan.

Traditional Japanese cuisine

Traditional Japanese dishes are something to look forward to after a day on the trail

Planning & Preparation

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 which takes 3 hours 30 minutes.

The West Japan Rail Company operates services between Kansai Airport and Osaka/Kyoto. For timetable information please visit http://www.westjr.co.jp/global.en/travel-information/timetable. The Airport Express HARUKA (Kansai Airport Line) takes approx 75 mins to Kyoto.

Your package includes train tickets from/to Kyoto or Osaka. The public transport system in Japan is superb and your pre departure information pack has detailed information on tickets, trains and how to use public transport easily.

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.

A shrine entrance along the Kumano Kodo

An entrance to one of the many shrines along the Kumano Kodo


Our range of tours in Japan are easily customised via the range of trip extensions on offer, browse our range of walking tours and trip extensions to see if any fit into your Japan travel plans. If you have any queries or would like more detailed information get in touch with a member of our team on [email protected].

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Having graduated in 2015 I joined the team here at Macs Adventure in May 2016. I split my time between spreading the word about our range of fantastic walking and cycling tours, building my knowledge of digital marketing and deciding where to travel next...