The Kumano Kodo Trail

THE PILGRIMAGE OF ANTS

The Kumano Kodo is a region of Japan comprised of branching pilgrimage routes that stretch into varying corners of the Kii-Peninsula. The pilgrimage itself dates back more than 1000 years and its routes have been walked by all levels of society; from commoners and artisans, to aristocrats and retired emperors, standing as a symbol of inclusivity for all seeking worship. The trails that comprise the region sprawl over mountain ranges and weave through lush valley greenery, each dotted with quiet hamlets and bustling hot-spring towns famous for their rejuvenating waters. 

Of the trails that make up the Kumano Kodo, the Nakahechi trail was once considered the imperial route, leading from Takijiri on the western edge of the peninsula and stretching to Shingu on the eastern coast. The sheer number of pilgrims who would march in long processions earned the trail the nickname “pilgrimage of ants”, and the trail remains the most popular of the routes today.

In the other direction runs the Kohechi trail, forging its path that Buddhist monks still use in their pilgrimage of worship to Hongu Taisha. Due to its rugged terrains and higher elevation, this area can expect to see frost and snow in the late Autumn and Winter months making it untraversable. However this leads to more temperate walking conditions throughout the rest of the year, as the cooling mountain breeze re-energises pilgrims that are braving the climb.

Highlights of The Kumano Kodo Trail

Its isolation from the rest of Japan truly lends the Kumano Kodo an immense sense of calm, complemented by its striking scenery, the delicious food and the warmth of its locals. Being close to the pacific coast, the region is also famous for its tuna dishes, and local pilgrims will be well acquainted with the revitalising power of Mehari-zushi - salted rice balls wrapped in mustard leaves. Be it for a journey of self-discovery, a pilgrimage of worship, or simply for the joy of the hike, the Kumano Kodo is a must visit location for a walking tour in Japan.

Guided

Kumano Ancient Trail

  • Duration: 9 days
  • Level: Strenuous

In the footsteps of Emperors, our small-group guided walking tour starts in imperial Kyoto before exploring the highlights of the ancient Kumano Kodo Trail, a UNESCO World Heritage site

USD 3395
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Self-Guided

Kumano Kodo Complete self-guided walking 11 days

  • Duration: 11 days
  • Level: Strenuous

The full Kumano Kodo pilgrimage experience to Mount Koya. See the Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi while walking the full Nakahechi and Kohechi route, with wonderful views over the valleys, mountains and the Pacific Ocean

USD 2315
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Self-Guided

Experience a full Kumano Kodo pilgrimage experience to Mount Koya, walking along the Nakahechi and Kohechi routes, ending with an authentic stay at a Shukubo pilgrims lodging on Mount Koya

USD 1905
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Self-Guided

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 4 days

  • Duration: 4 days
  • Level: Active

Walk along the wonderful Nakahechi route of the Kumano Kodo Trail ending at Hayatama Shrine.

USD 995
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Self-Guided

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 5 days

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Level: Strenuous

Experience the Nakahechi route walking from Takijiri to Nachi waterfall, visiting the Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi along the way

USD 1210
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Self-Guided

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 6 days

  • Duration: 6 days
  • Level: Strenuous

Travel along the full Nakahechi route on the enchanting Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail, experience Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi and bathe in the thermal waters at a hot-spring Ryokan

USD 1455
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Self-Guided

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking Upgrade 5 days

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Level: Strenuous

Walk in Nara and on highlight sections on the Kumano Kodo, experiencing the best inns and local food in the Kumano region

USD 2270
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Self-Guided

Kumano to Koya self-guided walking 5 days

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Level: Strenuous

Hike the challenging Kohechi route of the ancient Kumano Kodo trail, from Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine to Mount Koya, enjoying wonderful views over valleys and mountains each day

USD 1185
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