- Trace the steps of emperors on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail
- Bathe in the thermal waters of a hot spring
- Visit the Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi
- Glimpse the Pacific Ocena from Ogumotorigoe Pass
- Enjoy Kii-Katsuura's lively fishing port
|Day 1||Hike from Takijiri to Takahara||Takahara|
|Day 2||Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu||Chikatsuyu|
|Day 3||Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu||Hongu|
|Day 4||Hike from Ukegawa to Koguchi||Koguchi|
|Day 5||Hike from Koguchi to Nachi-san||Nachi-san|
|Day 6||Kii-Katsuura and onwards by train to Osaka or Kyoto|
Day 1: Hike from Takijiri to Takahara
Fly into Kyoto or Osaka and board a scenic oceanside train bound for the small town of Kii-Tanabe on the mystical Kii Peninsula, gateway to the historic Kumano Kodo Trail. From Kii-Tanabe, take a bus to Takijiri where you'll start your walk on the Nakachechi portion of the Kumano Kodo.
Make your way two hours up the steadily rising path to the ridge-top town of Takahara where a small, Japanese-style hotel with sweeping valley and mountain views awaits. Alternately, you could stay in a Japanese Minshuku in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. Both options serve good, home-cooked dinners featuring local seasonal ingredients.
Walking distance: 2.8 miles (4.5km)
Day 2: Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu
After your Japanese breakfast, follow the trail as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside, passing several Oji shrines before finally descending to the village of Chikatsuyu. The paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier. Arrive in Chikatsuyu in time to relax before dinner at a family-run Minshuku guesthouse.
Walking distance: 6.5 miles (10 km)
Day 3: Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu
From Chikatsuyu, wind your way along forest trails, past villages, and through the mountains to Hongu. Here, you'll find the Kumano Shrine - one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. Kumano - in the heart of these sacred mountains - is said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, the other world spirits traveled to in Japanese mythology.
From Hongu, board a bus for Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest natural hot-spring villages in Japan, or to Kawayu Onsen, famous for the thermal water bubbling to the surface of its crystal clear river. Enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before or after your delicious, multi-course dinner.
Walking distance: 14.9 miles (24 km)
Day 4: Hike from Ukegawa to Koguchi
Before you head out on today's hike, take some time to explore the atmospheric village where you spent the night. Then board a bus bound for Ukegawa on the banks of the Kumano River where you'll start the day's hike on the Kogumotorigoe Path. Make your way up the trail to Kogumotorigoe Pass before descending to the remote village of Koguchi, where a warm welcome awaits at a tiny inn run by a charming retired couple or a lodge repurposed from an old school building. Don't forget to explore the riverbanks and go for a swim if the weather is warm.
Walking distance: 7.7 miles (12.4 km)
Day 5: Hike from Koguchi to Nachi-san
On your last day of hiking, make your way from Koguchi up to the Ogumotorigoe Pass for a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean before descending to Nachi-San, where you'll find the Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. The Nachi-Taki Waterfall is also worth visiting when you arrive. Stay overnight close to the shrine in Nachi-San or take a local bus 20 minutes down the road to the port town of Kii-Katsuura, where you'll find wonderful views over the island-studded bay.
Walking distance: 9.3 miles (15.1 km)
Day 6: Kii-Katsuura and onwards by train to Osaka or Kyoto
Rise early on your last day and spend some time exploring Kii-Katsuura - an active fishing port with a lively early-morning fish market. Take in the beautiful bayside views, wander the intriguing backstreets, and shop in the traditional covered shopping arcade. Come lunchtime, board a train back across the Kii Peninsula to Osaka or Kyoto to catch your flight home.