The izakaya in the Ajikōji district double as pubs and are great for rubbing shoulders with locals and other trekkers on the Kumano Kodō.

Japan's Ume Capital

The Tanabe region is known for its high production of ume (oo-may), the slightly sour, slightly umami fruit with its distinctively Japanese taste. It's usually translated as 'Japanese plum', but don't say that here – locals insist that it's really in the apricot family. Sample it at Umeshu de Kanpai, which has tastings of umeshu (ume wine) and also sells umeboshi (pickled ume), ever popular among Japanese.