Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
Follow in the footsteps of samurai on an ancient forest pilgrimage
Once a sacred pilgrimage reserved for emperors and samurai, today the Kumano Kodo is open to all wanderers. Its pilgrimage routes run along the mystical Kii Peninsula, through ancient forests and mountains. This series of trails has no official start or finish—the magic is in the walking, not the completion. These paths wander through woods and forests, past rivers and hot springs to connect three important temples, as well as many smaller temples.
The Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO-listed ancient pilgrimage trails in the world and is a spectacular opportunity to disconnect from modern life and seek something more transcendent. The pilgrimage can be broken up by stays in traditional inns—which feature excellent local cuisine and often a hot spring bath to soothe your weary muscles—or as long day trips from Nara or Osaka. However, this misses out on much of the magic of staying along the Kumano Kodo.