Hongū (本宮), in the interior of Kii, is the biggest hub along the Kumano Kodō. Still, it's more village than town, which suits its natural setting, on the sandy banks of the Kumano-gawa. One of the Kumano Sanzan (three great shrines of Kumano) is here, Kumano Hongū Taisha, which retains much of the character of an ancient shrine.
From Hongū you can easily reach the onsen villages of Yunomine (湯の峰), Watarase (わたらせ) and Kawa-yu (川湯) by bus, or even on foot. Yunomine is considered one of Japan's earliest onsen destinations, said to have been discovered some 1800 years ago; it's an attractive village, nestled around a rapidly flowing, narrow river in a wooded valley. Many travellers choose to stay a night or two in Hongū or Yunomine, to take advantage of the baths or to do one of the short day hikes around Hongū.