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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine 熊野本宮大社

A majestic temple hidden in Wakayama's rugged seaside mountains

One of the three grand shrines that make up Kumano Sanzan, Kumano Hongu Taisha sits deep in the Kii mountain range. Its mighty wooden frame has long been a sight for sore eyes as travel-weary pilgrims clamber up the final stone staircase to the sanctuary, knowing the rigors of their Kumano Kodo journey have reached their conclusion.

Home to the Kumano Shinto faith, the shrine is constructed entirely of natural materials, representing the core belief in the sacred and restorative power of nature.

Don't Miss

  • Approaching the shrine the traditional way on the Nakahechi route from Hosshinmon Oji
  • Sophisticated building techniques utilizing wooden joints rather than nails
  • August's Yata-no-Hi fire festival, or the Kumano Hongu Taisha spring festival

How to Get There

Traditionally reached via an arduous pilgrimage through the mountain, today Kumano Hongu is easily accessible by bus.

Take the bus from Shingu (one hour 20 minutes), Kii-Tanabe, or Shirahama stations (around two hours). Get off at Hongu-Taisha-Mae for the closest access to the shrine or Hosshinmon Oji for a beautiful two-hour hike along the historical approach.

Quick Facts

The largest torii gate in the world now stands at the original location of the shrine in Oyunohara

Entry to the temple grounds is free, but there is a 300-yen charge to enter the treasure room

Hongu Taisha is at the center of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route

A move to safety

You might think the shrine looks relatively youthful for its 900-odd years, and you would be right. In 1889, a great flood swept through the shrine at its original home of Oyunohara. What remained was transported and meticulously rebuilt in its current home in Tanabe.

The original site is a quick walk from the current shrine grounds, easily marked by the massive torii gate built in 2000 to commemorate the former location.

All roads lead to Hongu Taisha

All the pilgrimage routes on the historic Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail eventually come to the stone steps leading up to the grand shrine of Kumano Hongu Taisha. However, not all visitors have endured the arduous weeks of walking through rugged mountain terrain that the ancient pilgrims undertook. Today, the shrine is very popular with casual day visitors and is particularly crowded during the New Year period.

Hidden among the cypress

In contrast to the vivid reds of Hayatama and Nachi Taisha, Kumano Hongu Taisha strikes a more subdued figure as its wooden façade blends into its natural background. No less impressive than its Kumano Sanzan cousins, however, its sweeping cypress bark roof is a beautiful piece of shrine architecture that feels ancient as you look at it.

Spring festivities are sprung

Every spring, the shrine plays host to the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival. On April 13th, fathers and sons immerse themselves into the sacred waters of the nearby Yunomine Onsen in an act of purification, then trek part of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route in traditional costume. The fathers need to be strong, as their sons are forbidden from touching the ground.

On April 15th, the Kumano deities take up residence in their portable shrines and are transported to the original site of the shrine in Oyunohara. Later, in August, is the Yata-no-Hi Fire Festival, which takes place at the shrine's original site of Oyunohara and includes a flaming mikoshi shrine and fireworks.

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