Japan’s Sacred Trails: Kumano Kodo
Hike through history and myth as you experience one of Japan’s cultural and spiritual cornerstones.
"Andrea did a wonderful job designing an itinerary to suit three generations of diverse interests, and was flexible and responsive to last minute changes and requests. He showed us many hidden treasures of this beautiful region that would have missed we're it not for him."
- Heather on her journey in Italy
A possible, beautiful itinerary for you
Rest before the Adventure
Meet your guides and fellow hikers at the Shinkansen South Gate of Nagoya Station. Here you will board a train bound for Ise. After a gorgeous dinner, settle into your traditional Japanese Ryokan.
'Sake' for the Road
First, you head to the Outer Shrine of Ise-jingu. Many restaurants and shops have opened up along Geku Sando, so you’ll be able to grab lunch here before heading onwards to the Inner Shrine. Start easy as you freely wander around the districts of Oharaimachi. Here you’ll stumble across several hidden gems, including Japan’s smallest sake brewery, a store specializing in sake cups, and various other food and souvenir shops along the way. Read more
Scenic is an Understatement
On a clear day, you might be able to catch a view of Mount Fuji between the Meoto-iwa as the sun rises along the Futami coast. After breakfast, head to Futami Okitama Shrine and the auxiliary Ryugusha shrine, before being transported by minibus to Kumano Kodo’s Tsuzurato Pass.
You embark on a course that follows the Ikkoku Pass, Hirakata Pass and Kumagaya-michi, while enjoying the views of the Kumano Sea with its islands. After lunch, head to Owase. Here you explore by foot the traditional fishing villages of Sugari, before continuing along the coast to Kumano’s Onigajo./p>
Before continuing on your journey along the Kumano Kodo trail, head to the site where the deities of Izanami and Kagutsuchi are enshrined. Fuden-toge Pass passes through serene cedar forests, where you'll discover beautiful environments of the countryside and the surrounding mountains. Continue along the moss-covered stone path toward Maruyama Senmaida – said to be the home of Japan's best rice terraces.
A True Pilgrimage
Begin the day’s hiking by heading to Kumano Hongu Taisha, before making your way to Oyunohara where you will come across Japan's largest torii gate. Its sheer scale towers over the surrounding countryside. At the nearby Kamikura shrine you'll discover the sacred giant rock, Gotobiki-iwa, located on the mountaintop. After lunch explore Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine and Nachi Falls.
As you exit the trail, you can continue to your next Japan destination or head back home, with the knowledge that you have completed one of the world’s best pilgrimage routes.