Kii Peninsula

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 original site of worship, before Kumano Hayatama Taisha was built nearby. It's a somewhat tricky climb up the 538 uneven steps to the rock, where there's a small shrine, Kamikura-jinja.

It's about a 15-minute walk south to the start of the climb from Kumano Hayatama Taisha.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kii Peninsula attractions

1. Kumano Hayatama Taisha

2.71 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…

2. Hirō-jinja

6.43 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…

3. Nachi-no-taki

6.89 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.

4. Kumano Nachi Taisha

8.55 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…

5. Seiganto-ji

8.56 MILES

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 …

6. Ōtorii

14.26 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. Kumano Hongū Heritage Centre

14.39 MILES

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

8. Kumano Hongū Taisha

14.57 MILES

Kumano Hongū Taisha is one of the Kumano Sanzan (three great shrines of Kumano) and if you're following the traditional pilgrim route, it's the first one…