Kumano Kodo Trail

Walk in the footsteps of pilgrims with a trip along Kumano Kodo. Walkthrough deep valleys and small villages along this UNESCO-heritage route. Stop to soak in onsens and visit sacred shrines. Stay in traditional inns offering excellent food and mingle with locals. Your journey begins with arrival by bus to Yunomine Onsen before starting the hike to Kumano Hongu Taisha. Finish with a well-deserved soak in Kawayu Onsen.

Best time to visit Japan: Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November)

Touring Style: Travel by train independently and self-guided trek. Guided walks are also available. 

Prices are seasonal and start from GBP 855 per person, minimum of 2 travelling and based on traditional inns. International airfares are extra. Japan experiences dramatic pricing fluctuations based on Festivals, domestic holidays and in some instances on weekends. Please ask us for an individual quote.

 

  • Venture through a UNESCO heritage trail Join local pilgrims on the Kumano Kodo, learning about deep-rooted religious beliefs and ancient cultures.
  • Soak in historic hot springs Soothe the body and soul at Yunomine, a 2000-year-old onsen, and Kawayu, a unique geothermal hot spring.
  • Hike to remarkable shrines Travel into the forest to see Kumano Hongu Taisha and explore Hayatama Taisha, dedicated to the gods who discovered Japan.
Kumano Kodo Trail at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrive at Tanabe Station and take a bus to Yunomine Onsen.
  • Day 2: Take a hike on the 7 kilometre trail to Kumano Hongu Taisha and head to Kawayu Onsen.
  • Day 3: Enjoy a cruise on the Kumano-gawa River before heading to Katsuura.
  • Day 4: Hike to Kumano Nachi Taisha before departure from Katsuura.
Kumano Kodo Trail Image 1

Day 1: Arrive Tanabe Station and travel to Yunomine Onsen

Upon arrival at Kii-Tanabe Station, our guide will be waiting to provide a welcome. Head to the tourist information centre for a brief orientation on Kumano Kodo –, its history and a more detailed explanation of its pilgrimage trails.

Afterwards, take the bus to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest and most historic hot spring resorts in Japan.

Accommodation will be in one of the traditional inns that surround Tsuboyu, a small enclosed hot spring built along the river.

Shin-Osaka Sta. / Kyoto Sta. to Kii-Tanabe Sta.: 2-2.5 h

Kii-Tanabe Sta. to Yunomine Onsen Bus Stop: 1 h 50 min

Kumano Kodo Trail Image 2

Day 2: Commence your trek to Kumano Hongu Taisha before taking a bus to Kawayu Onsen:

After an early breakfast, get on the bus to Hosshinmon-oji, the starting point of the trail that leads to Kumano Hongu Taisha. This 7-kilometre road passes through a mixture of forested paths and small farm villages and promises stunning views from a couple of observation points. End the hike at Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the three grand shrines in Kumano Kodo dedicated to the worship of the forests in Hongu. It is also the head shrine of over 3,000 Kumano shrines spread out in the country. Descend from the shrine’s stone steps and walk to Oyunohara, the site of the largest torii gate in Japan and the original location of Hongu Taisha. Catch the bus to Kawayu Onsen. In this hot spring resort, ready-to-use outdoor onsen baths are prepared for guests, but it’s quite a novelty to dig a separate bath and witness the rush of onsen waters from the ground.

Overnight in Kawayu Onsen

Trekking information (approximation):

Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha: 6.9 km; 3 hours

Yunomine Onsen Bus Stop to Hosshinmon-oji Bus Stop: 30 min

Hongu Taisha-mae Bus Stop to Kawayu Onsen Bus Stop: 10 min

Kumano Kodo Trail Image 3

Day 3: Take a cruise on the Kumano-gawa River. Head to Katsuura

After breakfast, enjoy a 90-minute cruise along Kumano-gawa River on a traditional boat. For over a millennium, pilgrims have been crossing this river to visit Hayatama Taisha in Shingu.  Spend time at the shrine before taking a short walk to Kamikura-jinja Shrine and Gotobiki-wa Rock. 

Take the train or bus from Shingu Station to Katsuura, a small yet popular fishing village in the Pacific Ocean.

Note: The boat pilgrimage is available from March to November (10:00, 1.5 h). 

Overnight in Katsuura.

Kawayu Onsen to Hitari Bus Stop: 25 min

Shingu to Katsuura: 15-40 min (bus/train)

Kumano Kodo Trail Image 4

Day 4: Departure from Katsuura

Travel to Daimon-zaka and walk along the 600-metre long cobblestone staircase situated at the foot of Mt. Nachi. Along the road is a small shop called Daimon-zaka Chaya, where traditional Heian clothes can be rented. Take the cobbled stairs to Kumano Nachi Taisha situated halfway through the mountains (350 metres above sea level). This shrine is one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Japan, with its religious foundation originating from the ancient worship of Nachi Falls, the tallest waterfall in the country.

Get on a local bus to Kii-Katsuura Station for the train for your onward journey..

Trekking information (approximation):

Daimon-zaka entrance to Mt. Nachi parking lot: 900 m; 25 min

Mt. Nachi parking lot to Nachi Taisha Shrine: 400 m; 10 min

Nachi Taisha to the viewing point for Nachi Falls: 900 m; 15 min

Kii-Katsuura Station to Daimonzaka Chushajo-mae Bus Stop: 20 min

Taki-mae Bus Stop to Kii-Katsuura Station: approx. 25 mins (bus)

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Highlights

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail

he Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route is one of the world's premier spiritual roads. Winding through the mountains of Honshu's Kii Peninsula, an area straddling Wakayama, Nara, Osaka and Mie prefectures, the route snakes its way through deep valleys, sacred mountains and small villages.

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