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ITINERARIES Trekking the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route Uncover the natural beauty and spiritual power of the ancient Kumano Pilgrimage Trail

One of Japan's most revered pilgrimage trails, the ancient Kumano Kodo weaves around the mountainous Kii Peninsula in Wakayama, passing through areas of remarkable spirituality and natural beauty.

Begin the journey by passing under the largest torii gate in Japan. Continue on to discover the iconic three Kumano shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Nachi Taisha, known collectively as Kumano Sanzan. Along the journey stop off at the hidden hot spring hubs before finishing the trek at the tallest waterfall in the country.

Highlights

    Walking under the imposing Oyunohara gates
    Relaxing in the naturally heated water of Kawayu Onsen
    Marveling at the majestic Nachi-no-Otaki Falls

How To Get There

From Tokyo: 4 hours

There are flights from Haneda Airport to Nanki Shirahama Airport (1 hour 10 minutes). Take the Meiko bus from the airport to Kii-Tanabe Station (50 minutes). From Kii-Tanabe Station there are eight buses to Hongu Taisha Shrine per day on the Ryujin Bus and Meiko Bus (2 hours). The last one departs at 4:40 p.m. Oyunohara is six minutes on foot from Hongu Taisha Shrine.

From Osaka: 4 hours 10 minutes

Take the JR Kuroshio Express from Osaka Station to Kii-Tanabe Station (2 hours 10 minutes). From Kii-Tanabe Station there are eight buses to Hongu Taisha Shrine per day on the Ryujin Bus and Meiko Bus (2 hours), the last one departs at 4:40 p.m. Oyunohara is 6 minutes on foot from Hongu-taisha Shrine.

Day 1
Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine A gateway to an unforgettable pilgrimage route

The first leg of the pilgrimage will take you to Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine . Pass through the gate and climb the 150 stairs to the altar of Kumano Hongu Taisha, which is considered to be the most magnificent of the three Kumano Shrines.

Oyunohara , the original site of Kumano Hongu Taisha, is a six-minute walk away and has the largest torii gate in Japan standing an imposing 34 meters high and 42 meters wide.

10 minutes

Take the Ryujin Bus Kumano Hongu Line from Hongu-taisha bus stop to Kawayu Onsen bus stop.

Kawayu Onsen A rustic town bubbling with healing natural springs

Sitting along the route is the picturesque hot spring town of Kawayu Onsen . As the hot water bubbles up from below ground, it mixes with the cool river water creating the ideal bathing temperature. Here visitors can dig their own baths, boil vegetables, and make famous onsen tamago, eggs cooked in hot spring water. The town is home to a number of ryokan (Japanese inns) for those wanting to spend the night.

Day 2

1 hour

Take the Kumano Kotsu Bus to Gongen Bus Stop. Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine is about a five-minute walk from the bus stop.

Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine National treasures and spiritual sites

Heading further south towards the coast is the vermilion-lacquered Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine . On display in Hayatama Taisha's Treasure Hall is over a dozen national treasures. Nearby is Kamikura-jinja Shrine , accessible only by a steep over 500-step stairway crafted from stones.

1 hour 10 minutes

From Gongenmae bus stop take Kumano Kotsu bus no. 17 bound for Katsuura station (27 minutes) and change at Shioiribashi Bus Stop.

Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine Japan's most renowned power spot

A little easier to reach than Kamikura-jinja Shrine is Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine , which can be reached via the stone-paved road known as Daimonzaka. Flanked by towering Japanese cedar trees, it makes for a breathtakingly beautiful scene. Adjacent to the shrine is Seigantoji Temple —the shrine and temple were divided during the Meiji period, but visitors still come to pray at both sites.

A striking 133 meters tall, the majestic Nachi Falls boasts the highest drop of any waterfall in Japan. Surrounded by verdant foliage that transforms in color with the passing seasons in Nachisan , it's said this magnificent location is the area's original religious site. Soak up the energy of the falls and leave feeling rejuvenated.

More to Explore
Treasure Dragon Waterfall Continue exploring the area's incredible beauty

Continue on a tour of the area's most stunning natural sites to the northeast, and you'll find Treasure Dragon Waterfall and Senin Waterfall. Both make for scenic and tranquil hiking destinations.

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