The Kii Peninsula points south away from the great cities of Kyoto and Osaka, and is one of the most remote and mystical areas of Japan, despite its proximity. Long a place of pilgrimage, it is the site of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan). From the 11th century successive emperors and their families made the long and difficult pilgrimage to Kumano from Kyoto. Several pilgrimage trails were established, and amongst them the Nakahechi-do, Kohechi-do and Ohechi-do, collectively known as the Kumano kodo (Old road of Kumano). Our walk focuses on part of the Nakahechi-do, which weaves its way through the forested mountains and small villages to the Grand Shrine of Hongu. You then transfer by bus and train to the Hayatama Grand Shrine and Shingu before you leave the Kumano region.
The walking is mostly paved village paths and unpaved mountains trails, with considerable ascent and descent on certain days. Though not 'technical', you will be need to be fit and well-prepared with adequate gear and clothing. This walk is highly customisable; there are 4 days of walking ranging from 2 to 7 hours, and we can advise on which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.
We also offer 5-day, 6-day and 9-day versions of this trip.
Type and level of walking
Mixed village paths (paved) and unpaved forested trails. A strenuous walk, with days of up to 8 hours walking and 3000 feet of ascent. A highly rewarding hike through the mountains of the Kii Peninsula, but you need to have good stamina. Walks can be shortened by taking local buses.
Accommodation booked & prepaid - train tickets (from/to Kyoto or Osaka) - detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions - waterproof topographical map - local phone support - 3 breakfasts & 3 dinners
All year (the region may experience snow from December to March)
Tour length: 3 nights/4 days Walking days: 4
|Price (per person):
Prices are based on two people sharing. Single supplement $85. Above prices include return train tickets from Kyoto or Osaka.
Train tickets from/to Tokyo can be added for $140 (one-way) or $280 (return).
Please enquire for other departure points.
Child prices: Age 6-11 $850 Age 0-5 $190.
Over 12 pay adult price.
Any day Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December to 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (09 - 17 August). Please enquire for availability and pricing if your trip falls within those dates.
Kumano Kodo trail - Grand Shrine at Hongu - Yunomine Onsen - Hayatama Grand Shrine
Day 1 Takijiri to Takahara
Travelling by train, you will travel to the mystical Kii Peninsula via Osaka. Your train will hug the coastline and we will reach the small town of Tanabe. From there you will board a bus and then start the walk on the Kumano Pilgrimage route from Takijiri. From the start at Takijiri Oji, the path climbs steeply up to the ridge-top village of Takahara (2 hours). Stay at a lovely ryokan with both Japanese and western style rooms, all with spectacular views over the valley and mountains beyond.
Day 2 Takahara to Chikatsuyu
The Nakahechi has been established as one of Japan 's National Historic Roads. The paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier. The today'’s walk will be 4-5 hours, arriving in the small village of Chikatsuyu in time for dinner at a family-run minshuku (guesthouse) with its own hot spring.
Day 3 Chikatsuyu to Yunomine Hot Spring
The path continues through the mountains to Yunomine, one of the oldest natural hot spring onsen villages in Japan . Today's hike is about 8 hours, and 13 miles; a mixture of small villages and forest trails, as you cross the Kii mountains to visit Kumano shrine. At the heart of these sacred mountains, Kumano was said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi , the ‘other world' which spirits travelled to in Japanese mythology. From Kumano shrine, a short bus ride brings you to Yunomine hot spring, and your ryokan, with its wonderful outdoor bath.
Option: We provide three options from 3 to 8 hours, using a short bus ride to shorten the walk if necessary.
Day 4 Hayatama Grand Shrine and Shingu, trip ends
Travel by bus and train to the Grand Shrine at Hayatama in Shingu, one of the three sacred shrines of Kumano, and the nearby Kamikura shrine. With extra time you can explore Shingu town. Catch your return train to Kyoto or Osaka.
We can arrange extra days at the end of the trip in the following destinations:
A lovely town south of Nara with some of Japan's earliest Buddhist temples, as well as kofun burial mounds from the 5th century. Asuka is a lovely town to explore on foot or why not rent a bicycle from the train station and explore at a relaxed pace? We will arrange a night at one of the small minshuku in the town.
This atmospheric temple complex south of Kyoto is home to around 100 temples and shukubo (pilgrim's lodging). Founded by the monk Kobo Daishi in the 10th century, Mount Koya is the spiritual centre of Shongon (True word) Buddhism, and he is enshrined at Oku-no-in. Located at 800 metres altitude in the Wakayama mountains, you reach Mount Koya via the scenic Nankai railway. There are many optional local walks.
Many others possible - please ask
Buses run within easy reach of the Kumano kodo, and can be used to skip sections or in case of inclement weather
ACCOMMODATION ON THIS TOUR
Organic Hotel Kiri-no-sato Takahara
Run by local Jian Shino who speaks English, Spanish and Chinese (as well as his native Japanese), this welcoming ryokan/hotel has both western and Japanese style rooms, and wonderful organically-grown local food. If you are lucky, Shino-san may even serenade you with some flamenco guitar!
In the small town of Chikatsuyu, this minshuku (guesthouse) has its own hot spring baths next door, and some of the freshest and tastiest food you will enjoy in Japan!
Other accommodation on this trip
Yoshinoya (Yunomine) - in the hot spring village of Yunomine, Yoshinoya has its own hot spring baths with a 'rotenburo' outside bath to enjoy after a day's hiking.
"The trip was just marvelous, and I'm just so, so impressed and thankful for all the planning and preparations you did for me!"
T Roseth, Norway
"This trip was very seriously everything I could have hoped for. I filled out the survey, but it's pretty much straight excellent ratings, so I don't think it will provide much constructive feedback. So I just wanted to to drop one last personal note and say thanks a lot. You really went the extra mile dealing with earth quakes and date changes and requests to set me up in tiny towns like Iwade (which meant I got to see some friends from 16 years ago and had a great reunion with some people who are really important to me). Seriously, great job. I did not deserve a trip that was that fun and went that smoothly. I keep expecting Karma to smack me around a little bit just to get the universe back into alignment." (Kumano Kodoself-guided)
Andy E, USA
"Dear Jeremy, we did have a great time in japan. No complaints about the arrangements at all. all lodging and food were excellent. instruction for trekking and transportation were clear and easy to understand and follow. The rain (since it was rainy season) made the stones on the Kumono Kodo very slippery so we did need to take care when hiking. This lengthened the time on the trail on the days that it rained. Fortunately, Momofuku gave us hemp rope to tie around the front of our hiking shoes which really helped on the downhill sections. we thoroughly enjoyed staying at his home. He and his wife are terrific hosts. We were soaking wet when we arrived at their home. They washed and dried our clothes, took care of our boots, and prepared a very hot bath for us. We were greeted warmly at each inn along the way and made to feel at home. We honestly can't pick a favorite accommodation. They had offered something special. Least favorite was the small minshuku near Nachi. We loved everything about Koya-san, including our lodging, although it rained during our entire stay. Since we are from Seattle, rain doesn't bother us. in fact, we thought Koya-san might be more beautiful in the rain. Since we have both been to Japan a number of times, we are quite familiar with the food...and love it. The meals on this trip did not disappoint. Everything was very good. Finally, i would like to thank you for helping to arrange the use of the telephone in Takahara. It worked out perfectly. thanks as well for allowing us to reschedule our trip from April to June. We will not hesitate to recommend Oxalis to anyone considering a trip to japan."
Carolyn C and John B, Seattle, USA
"The holiday was amazing. Probably one of the best I have ever had. Everything went smoothly. The hotels in Osaka and Tokyo were great. The mountains were amazing and all our host were very friendly. Thanks so much for putting it together and making it so easy for us. All the best with everything. I have uploaded a couple of pics top your FB wall and filled in the survey."
Sam S and Tim P, Sydney, Australia
"Well we are back and wish to tell you that the trip "Kumano Kodo self-guided" has been marvelous especially with your fantastic plannings and preparations. The Day-by Day itinerary and walking instructions as well as the travel details helped us to find our way . We had found OXALIS holidays searching in the Web and after a leap of good faith we trusted the company. We are happy to say that the trip exceeded our expectations. All Japanese we met were very helpfull and polite and advised us in Japanese lifestyle. We had much to laugh about our missing knowledge. It was a great help that Mr. .., who is running the Rhyocan Chatsuyu Minshguku drove us to a point close to Tzugizakura-oji. Thanks for his help. Your guidance made possible an experience of the Japanese culture and landscape. If we shall ever come to Japan again, we certainly will join a trip with OXALIS holidays. Thank you"
Wolfgang and Barbara R,Germany
All accommodation, breakfasts & 3 evening meals are included. Train tickets from either Kyoto or Osaka to the start of the walk and from the end of the walk back to Osaka or Kyoto are included.
Train tickets from/to Tokyo can be added for $140 (one-way) or $280 (return). Please enquire for other departure points. Not Included are international flights, drinks with meals, lunches and evening meals in Kyoto and Osaka. A local bus is used on day 3, 5 and 6, and should be paid locally ($30).
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
There is a single room supplement of $170 per person (please note that single rooms are not always available in Japanese-style accommodations).
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