Visit mountaintop villages, soothing hot springs and Japanese temples along the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kumano Kodo during this 3- or 4-day self-guided tour. Part of a series of old pilgrimage roads, the strenuous but well-maintained route originally connected the former imperial capital with three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan). Traveling round-trip by train to the Nakahechi portion of the route from either Kyoto or Osaka, you’ll journey on foot and by bus along village paths and forested mountain trails in the remote Kii Peninsula. Stay at family-run inns and guesthouses where you’ll enjoy traditional Japanese breakfasts and dinners.
From the 11th century, successive emperors and their families made the long and difficult pilgrimage to Kumano from Kyoto. Follow in their footsteps along the remote and mystical Kii Peninsula. This journey takes you along the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo (‘kodo’ means old road), considered one of Japan's national historic roads.After riding the train from Kyoto or Osaka, weave your way through the forested mountains and small villages. Finish with a bus ride to the Hayatama Grand Shrine (Kumano Hayatama Taisha) in Shingu before leaving the Kumano region by train back to Kyoto or Osaka.Your 3- or 4-day walking route along the Kumano Kodo includes mostly paved village paths and well-maintained mountain trails, with considerable ascent and descent on certain days. Though not technical, the strenuous route requires adequate gear and clothing, and a reasonable level of fitness for 2–8 hours of walking per day.You’ll stay overnight in local minshuku, family-run guesthouses, or ryokan, Japanese inns with hot springs (onsen). Baggage forwarding (own expense) can be easily arranged with instructions provided. Send your main luggage ahead from your accommodation before the Kumano Kodo hike to wherever you are staying after the trail, using one of the efficient and secure luggage-forwarding services. With a yukata (a casual kimono) supplied by each inn, you can manage with just a small pack containing your overnight essential items for your 2 or 3 nights on the trail.Upon booking, you receive a detailed day-by-day itinerary, including walking instructions and a topographical map. Some meals are included, but be prepared to buy your lunch before you set off each day, or during breaks along the trail.Please provide your pre-tour accommodation to the tour operator at the time of booking so the tour operator can send you your detailed tour information and rail tickets.