Kii Peninsula

This wooden temple, absent of colour and next to the Shintō shrine Kumano Nachi Taisha, was last rebuilt in 1590, making it the oldest building in Kii (legend takes its founding back another 1000-plus years). The gong above the offering box in the main hall is the largest in Japan, a gift from warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The temple's three-storey pagoda, a vividly painted modern reconstruction, has views of Nachi-no-taki waterfall from the upper level (admission ¥300). The pagoda foregrounding the waterfall has become the classic image of Nachi.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kii Peninsula attractions

1. Kumano Nachi Taisha

0.01 MILES

Built on the side of a mountain, facing the waterfall Nachi-no-taki, this shrine is one of Kii's most spiritual places, a site of ancient nature worship…

2. Nachi-no-taki

1.95 MILES

At 133m, Nachi-no-taki is Japan's highest waterfall. It's the first of many still deeper in the Nachi mountains and has long been used in ascetic training.

3. Hirō-jinja

2.75 MILES

For a close-up look at the falls, hike the 135 steps to this small shrine, which has a viewing platform (it's also the spot from which to worship the…

4. Gotobiki-iwa

8.56 MILES

According to the Kumano faith, this large boulder, wedged on the side of Gongen-yama, was where the three principal gods descended to earth. It was the…

5. Kumano Hayatama Taisha

8.96 MILES

Located at the mouth of the Kumano-gawa, Kumano Hayatama Taisha is one of the Kumano Sanzan (three sacred shrines of Kumano), enshrining Hayatama-no-Okami…

6. Ōtorii

11.11 MILES

In 2000 this giant torii (entrance gate to a Shintō shrine) – 33.9m tall and 42m wide, made out of steel, painted dramatic black and the largest in Japan …

7. Tōkō-ji

11.17 MILES

This temple in the middle of Yunomine Onsen is just above Tsubo-yu Onsen, and like many hot springs adjacent to temples, is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai,…

8. Kumano Hongū Heritage Centre

11.38 MILES

Part museum, part visitor centre, this contemporary multimedia complex has exhibits about Kumano's culture and natural environment, plus English-speaking…