Get ready for a memorable village-to-village trek on the Kii Peninsula along sections of Japan's famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. Perfect for avid hikers, this self-guided tour will take you past thermal hot springs, grand shrines, and waterfalls as you walk in the footsteps of emperors.


  • 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 Ocean from Ogumotorigoe Pass 
  • Enjoy Kii-Katsuura's lively fishing port

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kyoto or Osaka, Train to Kii-Tanabe, 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 Nachisan Nachisan
Day 6 Explore Kii-Katsuura, Train to Osaka or Kyoto & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto or Osaka, Train to Kii-Tanabe, Hike from Takijiri to Takahara

Countryside on the Kumano Kodo Trail
Countryside views along the Kumano Kodo Trail

Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival in Kyoto or Osaka, board a scenic oceanside train bound for the small town of Kii-Tanabe on the mystical Kii Peninsula, the gateway to the historic Kumano Kodo Trail. From Kii-Tanabe, you'll 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 ridgetop town of Takahara, where a small, Japanese-style hotel with sweeping valley and mountain views awaits. Alternatively, you could stay in a traditional minshuku (family-run bed and breakfast) in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. Both options serve good, home-cooked dinners featuring local and seasonal ingredients.

Walking distance: 2.8 miles (4.5 km)

Day 2: Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu

Forest trail on the way to Chikatsuyu
A forest trail on the way to Chikatsuyu

After a traditional Japanese breakfast, get back on the trail this morning and follow 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. You'll arrive in Chikatsuyu in time to relax before dinner at a family-run minshuku guesthouse.

Walking distance: 6.5 miles (10 km)

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Day 3: Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu

Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu
Take in sweeping mountaintop panoramas on the hike to Hongu

Leaving Chikatsuyu this morning, get back on the trail and wind your way along forest paths, past villages, and through the mountains to Hongu. Here, you'll find the Kumano shrine—one of the three Kumano Sanzan or "Grand Shrines of Kumano." Kumano is nestled in the heart of these sacred mountains and 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. Soothe your tired muscles with a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before or after your delicious multicourse dinner.

Walking distance: 14.9 miles (24 km)

Day 4: Hike from Ukegawa to Koguchi

Kogumotorigoe Path
Follow the ancient Kogumotorigoe Path through cedar forests

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 Nachisan

Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine
The grand Nachi Taisha shrine and the nearby Nachi-Taki waterfall mark the end of your hike

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 Nachisan, where you'll find Nachi Taisha, another one of the three Kumano Sanzan shrines. 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: Explore Kii-Katsuura, Train to Osaka or Kyoto & Depart

View from Kii-Katsuura
Spend the morning exploring oceanside Kii-Katsuura

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. Safe travels!

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Map of Kumano Kodo Self-Guided Hiking Tour - 6 Days
Map of Kumano Kodo Self-Guided Hiking Tour - 6 Days

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