KUMANO KODO Highlight Walks - 4 days | Nakahechi, Hongu, Boat & Nachi

  • Hosshinmon-oji

    Hosshinmon-oji

  • Kumano Amulet

    Kumano Amulet

  • Fushiogami-oji

    Fushiogami-oji

  • Kumano Kodo

    Kumano Kodo

  • Kumano Kodo

    Kumano Kodo

  • Traditional Boat Tour

    Traditional Boat Tour

  • Nachi falls

    Nachi falls

  • Oyunohara

    Oyunohara

  • Kawayu Onsen

    Kawayu Onsen

  • Katsuura Onsen

    Katsuura Onsen

  • Kamikura-jinja

    Kamikura-jinja

  • Kumano Hayatama Taisha

    Kumano Hayatama Taisha

  • Nachisan Pagoda

    Nachisan Pagoda

  • Seiganto-ji Temple

    Seiganto-ji Temple

Rating & Reviews

4.6

 Description

This itinerary focuses on the best sights and walks during a slower visit- a great introductory way to experience the diversity of the sacred Kumano region of Japan.

This highlight itinerary visits all three Grand Shrines (Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha & Kumano Nachi Taisha), one each day, with short and scenic highlight walks around each shrine.

A traditional boat tour on the Kumano-gawa river leads to Shingu, offering an alternative perspective of the environment.

Overnight at three different hot spring village in the mountains (Yunomine Onsen & Kawayu Onsen) and on the coast (Katsuura Onsen) while dining on delicious local cuisine.

Route:
 Osaka | Tanabe | Kawayu Onsen | Yunomine Onsen | Katsuura | Hongu | Nachisan | Osaka
Duration: 3 days & 2 nights (2.5 days with short walks)
Overnight: Kawayu Onsen, Yunomine Onsen, Katsuura
Overall Level: Highlight/Beginner
Type: Self-guided or guided.
Transportation: Train, Bus, Walk
Daily Luggage Shuttle: Available for all days.
Walking Difficult: Day 2=2, Day 3=1.5, Day 4=1.5
What is walking difficulty?
Recommended For: Those who want to experience the highlights of the Kumano Kodo with short walks focused in each of the three Kumano Sanzan Grand Shrines areas.

WHAT IS A MODEL ITINERARY?
Model Itineraries are sample travel plans to help you organize your trip, an easy way to add contents to your cart that match your itinerary. 

These are not package tours.

You can use them as they are, adjust them to your needs, or contact us for more ideas.

PRICE
Price depends on which accommodations and services you book. 

All prices are online for your reference.
DAY 1

     Train from Osaka/Kyoto to Kii-Tanabe (~3 hr)

     Bus from Kii-Tanabe to Kawayu Onsen (~2 hr)

     Stay in Kawayu Onsen

DAY 2

     Bus from Kawayu Onsen to Hosshinmon-oji (~30 min)

     Walk from Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha (~7.5 km, 2~3 hr)

     Bus from Hongu to Yunomine Onsen (~20 min)

     Stay in Yunomine Onsen

DAY 3

     Bus from Yunomine Onsen to Boat Tour Center (~40 min)

     Traditional Boat Ride on Kumano-gawa River (~1.5 hr)

     Walk to Kamikura-jinja (~3 km, 1~2 hr)

     Train/bus from Shingu to Kii-Katsuura (~20 min)

     Stay in Katsuura

DAY 4

     Bus from Kii-Katsuura to Daimon-zaka (~20 min)

     Walk Kumano Kodo Daimon-zaka (~1.5 km, ~1 hr)

     Bus from Nachi to Kii-Katsuura (~30 min)

     Train from Kii-Katsuura to Shin-Osaka

 Itinerary Map

 Highlights

Soak in Kawayu Onsen
A geological wonder: Hot spring in the river!
Walk Kumano Kodo
Ancient and sacred pilgrimage route.
Visit Kumano Hongu Taisha
Austere Shinto shrine with rich history.
Stay in traditional accommodation
Try a traditional Ryokan inn and/or family run guesthouse.
Eat local cuisine
Immerse yourself in Japan’s countryside culinary traditions.
Overnight in Yunomine Onsen
Japan's spiritual hot spring intimately connected with Kumano culture.
Traditional boat tour
Travel like pilgrims past on Kumano-gawa River.
Visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha
One of the three Kumano grand shrines.
Visit Katsuura Onsen
Hot spring fishing port on Pacific coast.
Experience Daimon-zaka
Scenic cobblestone staircase lined by ancient trees.
Visit Kumano Nachi Taisha
Home to Japan’s tallest waterfall.

 Detailed Itinerary

BEFORE YOUR VISIT

  • PREPARATION

    Preparation and planning is the key to a safe trek in the sacred Kumano mountains.

    Choose a route that you have adequate experience and physical strength to safely complete. 

    Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and carry necessary gear. 

    NOTE: Details sometimes change, especially bus schedules, so please double-check times before your trip.  If you notice something incorrect, please let us know. Thank you!
  • WHEN TO VISIT

    The Nakahechi route is open year round.  

    Summer can be hot and humid, and winter has a slight possibility of snow at higher elevations (from end of December to end of February) although it usually melts shortly it falls. The winter months have shorter daylight hours.

    Japanese national holidays and long-weekends can be busy so best to avoid (especially golden week in the beginning of May and Obon mid-August).


    NOTE: It is often best to come mid-week as capacity is limited in smaller villages along the trail.
  • RESOURCES

    There are many useful resources related to the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes.  Please use these to make the most of your trip.

    Maps and Official Guide Book, are available onsite in Tanabe.  Online “Pilgrim Packs” including these materials can be mailed in advance.
  • INCLUSIONS

    The itinerary below is a sample.  

    Only the products and services that you book are included.  For example if you would like lunch boxes or daily luggage shuttle, these must be reserved in advance.  They are not included unless you book them.

    Transportation fees are not included.  It is easy to pay transport costs as you go.
  • GUIDED or SELF-GUIDED

    This model itinerary can be done guided or self-guided.

    1. Self-guided. Use the detailed information online and onsite to complete your walk independently.
    2. Guided. Hire a local guide to have some comradery on the trail while experiencing the region’s rich culture.
    3. Partly-guided. Or have the best of both!  Hire a guide for the first day to get you going and then complete the itinerary on your own.  

    NOTE: The itinerary below is based on option 1. Self-guided.
  • LUGGAGE OPTIONS

    There are a few options for your luggage.

    1. Daily Luggage Shuttle. Luggage is transferred to your accommodation everyday (This is often the most popular option. If required, please book when making your accommodation reservations).
    2. Luggage Storage. Leave your luggage at the KUMANO TRAVEL Support Center in Tanabe to be picked-up after your trip.
    3. Luggage Shipping. Send your luggage from the KUMANO TRAVEL Support Centerin Tanabe to your final destination and only carry with you what you need during your visit.

    NOTE: The itinerary below is based on option 1. Daily Luggage Shuttle.
    Options
    2. Luggage Storage and 3. Luggage Shipping can be arranged onsite without reservations.
  • MEALS

    Immersing oneself in local cuisine is part of the Kumano experience.

    1. At Accommodations.  Meals are most often served in accommodations in rural areas, as options for eating outside are limited to non-existent.  (Eating the set meals at accommodations is the most common and convenient option.)
    2. Lunch Boxes.  Lunch boxes are provided by most accommodations along the Kumano Kodo (in the Hongu area can be delivered to your lodging in the morning).
    3. Special Dietary Needs.  Special meal requests such as vegetarian or specific allergies must be made at the time of booking.  Vegetarianism is not common in Japan, especially in the countryside, so please double-check to confirm which types of vegetarian meals are available.  Often being able to eat trace amounts of the ubiquitous Dashi fish stock makes it easier to find options.

    NOTE: The itinerary below is based on meals supplied 1. At Accommodations with 2. Lunch Boxes when available.

DAY 1
Transfer to Tanabe & Kawayu Onsen
Overnight: Kawayu Onsen

  • DAY 1 OVERVIEW

    DAY ONE is a transfer to Kawayu Onsen, a mysterious natural wonder where hot spring water bubbles to the surface of the river.

    Enjoy the countryside scenery during the voyage.
  • TRAIN FROM OSAKA TO KII-TANABE (JR Kuroshio 3)

     Depart: 9:01 Shin-Osaka
      Depart: 9:23 Tennoji

      Arrive: 11:22 Kii-Tanabe


    The JR train travels down the west coast of the Kii peninsula. 

    As you head south the scenery changes dramatically from the large urban centers to agricultural and natural regions, with distinctively less populated mountains. 

    Watch for terraced orange and ume orchards along the way.


    TIP: Sit on the right hand side of the train for the best views.
  • VISIT TANABE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER

    This information center is next to the Kii-Tanabe station as you exit on the left.

    There are paper copies of maps and transportation timetables as well as Dual Pilgrim credential to collect stamps along the trail. 

    This is the best place to get the most up-to-date information before you begin your walk!
  • VISIT KUMANO TRAVEL SUPPORT CENTER

    The Kumano Travel Support Center is near the station featuring local souvenirs and outdoor goods.

    Luggage storage and shipping services are available at the onsite travel desk.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Drop your bags off at the Kumano Travel Support Center and they will be delivered directly to your accommodation.

    TIP: Daily luggage shuttle is convenient and highly recommended: to be able to walk freely without the worry of your bags.
  • LUNCH

    At a restaurant, or buy something to go.  Ask at the tourist information center for ideas.
  • BUS FROM KII-TANABE STATION TO KAWAYU ONSEN (Ryujin Bus)

     Depart: 14:50 Kii-Tanabe

     Arrive: 16:48 Kawayu Onsen


    Busses depart from bus stop two in front of the station. 

    PRICE: 1900 yen

    NOTE: You can buy your bus ticket at the vending machine in the information center.
  • VISIT KAWAYU ONSEN

    Kawayu Onsen is a small settlement along the Oto-gawa River: a geological thermal wonder where hot spring water bubbles to the surface of the river.

    On the north side of the river is a collection of accommodations. On the south side of the river is a green forested mountainside.

  • OVERNIGHT IN KAWAYU ONSEN

    There is a diversity of accommodations in Kawayu Onsen such as Ryokan inns, Minshuku lodgings, each with their own hot spring baths.
  • SUPPER

    At accommodation.

DAY 2
Walk Kumano Kodo, Hosshinmon-Oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha
Overnight: Yunomine Onsen

  • DAY 2 OVERVIEW


    DAY 2 is a walk the climax section of the Kumano Kodo.  The trail from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu is popular with a diversity of forested trail and settlement scenery.

    Visit Kumano Hongu Taisha and Yunomine Onsen. 
  • BREAKFAST

    At accommodation.

    PICK UP LUNCH BOX

    It is usually easiest to order your lunch box from the accommodation. Book a lunch box plan to take advantage of this service.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Leave luggage at accommodation.
  • BUS FROM KAWAYU ONSEN TO HOSSHINMON-OJI (Ryujin Bus)

     Depart: 8:16 Kawayu Onsen

     Arrive: 8:46 Hosshinmon-oji


    PRICE: 510 yen

    NOTE: The Hosshinmon-oji bus stop is just east of the shrine.  To visit Hosshinmon-oji walk a short distance west and then return to the bus stop to continue to Kumano Hongu Taisha.  Ask the bus driver for directions when you arrive at Hosshimon-oji.

    TIP: Many of the accommodations in Kawayu Onsen offer free shuttles to Hosshinmon-oji.
  • WALK KUMANO KODO - HOSSHINMON-OJI TO KUMANO HONGU TAISHA

    Distance: ~7 km
    Time: 2~3 hr
    Elevation Gain: ~190 m
    Elevation Loss: ~460 m

    This is a very nice half day walk on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. It goes through a mixture of ridge top settlements and forest trails.

    There are some good panoramic lookout spots along the trail.

    Kumano Kodo Map

  • VISIT KUMANO HONGU TAISHA

    One of the three grand shrines, Kumano Hongu Taisha stands on a small ridge line in the north of the Hongu village.

    The austere pavilions are made of wood with impressive cypress bark roofs; it's architecture style dating back over 800 years.

    Watch for the sacred symbol of Kumano, the Yatagarasu three-legged crow.
  • LUNCH

    Picnic lunch along trail or at restaurant in Hongu.
  • VISIT KUMANO HONGU HERITAGE CENTER

    This visitor center is on the east side route 311 across from the Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine. 

    It has detailed information and exhibits about the area in English. 


    HOURS:
     9:00~17:00 (open year-round)

    NOTE: Registration as DUAL PILGRIM takes place here.  It takes at least 15 minutes and cannot be mailed out.

    Kumano Hongu Heritage Center
    Dual Pilgrim

  • VISIT OYUNOHARA

    Kumano Hongu Taisha was originally located at Oyunohara, a sandbank at the confluence of the Kumano-gawa and Otonashi Rivers.

    Legend has it that the Kumano deities, in the form of three moons, descended into the branches of a giant oak tree in this clearing.

    All of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes lead to this sacred site.

    The entrance to Oyunohara is marked by the largest Torii shrine gate in the world (33.9 meters tall and 42 meters wide). It is a formalized gateway that designates the entrance to a sacred area and signifies the division of the secular and the spiritual worlds.

  • Option 1
    WALK KUMANO KODO - HONGU TO YUNOMINE ONSEN - DAINICHI-GOE

    Distance: ~2 km
    Time: 1~2 hr
    Elevation Gain: ~250 m
    Elevation Loss: ~190 m

    The Dainichi-goe route is a short but relatively steep trail over Mt. Dainichi that links the Hongu village with Yunomine Onsen.

    The trailhead is at the southend of Hongu.

    Dainichi-goe
    Kumano Kodo Map

  • Option 2
    BUS FROM HONGU TAISHA TO YUNOMINE ONSEN 

     Depart:  15:05 Hongu Taisha-mae

     Arrive:  15:24 Yunomine Onsen


    Busses depart from in front of the Kumano Hongu Heritage Center. 

    PRICE: 300 yen

    NOTE:
    After the 16:58 bus there is a long wait until the next one.

  • VISIT YUNOMINE ONSEN

    Yunomine Onsen is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan and directly connected with the Kumano Kodo. It is a quaint little collection of inns tucked into a small valley.

     
    Tsuboyu is an historic bath which was used by pilgrims past to purify themselves with the hot water. Tickets are sold at the booth next to the temple.
  • OVERNIGHT IN YUNOMINE ONSEN

    There is a diversity of accommodations in Yunomine Onsen such as Ryokan inns, Minshuku lodgings, each with their own hot spring baths.
  • SUPPER

    At accommodation.

DAY 3
Traditional Boat Tour
Overnight: Katsuura area

  • DAY 3 OVERVIEW

    DAY THREE journeys on the Kumano-gawa on a traditional flat bottom boat retracing the historic Kumano Kodo water pilgrimage route.

    Visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Katsuura Onsen, a coastal hot spring fishing village famous for its hot springs.
  • BREAKFAST

    At accommodation.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Leave luggage at accommodation.
  • BUS FROM YUNOMINE ONSEN TO BOAT TOUR CENTER

    Depart:   8:40   Yunomine Onsen

    Arrive:   9:20   Michi-no-Eki Kumano-gawa

    PRICE: 950 yen

  • TRADITIONAL BOAT RIDE ON KUMANO-GAWA RIVER

      10:00~11:30

    Historically pilgrimage travelled by boat between Kumano Hongu Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha.

    These tours follows the same route in flat bottom wooden boats.

    This is an excellent way to view the spiritual landscape from the river like pilgrims past. 

  • VISIT KUMANO HAYATAMA TAISHA 

    One of the three Kumano grand shrines, Kumano Hayatama Taisha is located at the mouth of the Kumano-gawa river.

    The bright vermillion colors accent the surrounding forest.

    Watch for the ancient Nagi tree whose leaves were used as amulets.
  • LUNCH

    Picnic lunch or at restaurant in Shingu.

    TIP: Kamikura-jinja is a nice spot for a picnic lunch.
  • WALK TO KAMIKURA-JINJA

    Gotobiki-iwa, a gigantic rock located halfway up Gongen Mountain, is revered as a deity and is the site where the Kumano deities are first believed to have descended.

    At the base of this monolith is a shrine called Kamikura-jinja with views of Shingu.

  • Option 1
    BUS FROM SHINGU TO KATSUURA  (Kumano Kotsu)

     Depart: 15:00 Shingu Station

     Arrive: 15:36 Kii-Katsuura Station


    PRICE: 620 yen

    NOTE: Departures are every 30 minutes. Taking a train is also an option.
  • Option 2
    TRAIN FROM SHINGU TO KATSUURA  (JR local)

     Depart: 15:30 Shingu

      Arrive: 15:53 Kii-Katsuura

    TIP: Sit on the lefthand side of the train for the best coastal views.

  • VISIT KATSUURA ONSEN

    Katsuura Onsen is a fishing port on the rugged Pacific coastline. 

    This coastal village famous for its hot spring baths and world-class seafood.
  • OVERNIGHT IN KATSUURA

    There are a diversity of Ryokan, Minshuku, and Guesthouses in Katsuura, so with coastal views, and many with hot spring baths.
  • SUPPER

    At accommodation.

DAY 4
Walk Kumano Kodo, Daimonzaka, Return to Osaka

  • DAY 4 OVERVIEW

    DAY FOUR is a visit in the morning to the Nachi Shrine-temple complex including a short walk on the scenic Daimon-zaka slope culminating at the Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan.

    In the afternoon transfer next destination.
  • BREAKFAST

    At accommodation.
  • LUGGAGE STORAGE

    Leave luggage at accommodation or in the coin lockers next to the Kii-Katsuura station.

  • BUS FROM KII-KATSUURA STATION TO DAIMONZAKA (Kumano Kotsu)

     Depart: 8:25 Kii-Katsuura

     Arrive: 8:44 Daimonzaka


    PRICE: 420 yen

    NOTE: At Daimonzaka bus stop are toilets and vending machines.
  • WALK KUMANO KODO - DAIMONZAKA

     Distance: ~2 km
     Time: ~1 hr
     Elevation Gain: ~190 m
     Elevation Loss: ~460 m

    The Daimon-zaka is a short but scenic cobblestone staircase rising out of the valley lined with ancient trees.


    NOTE: The distance and time above is only from the base of the valley to the Shrine-temple complex.  There is more descent to the waterfall base and Nachi-no-Taki-mae bus stop.

     
  • VISIT KUMANO NACHI TAISHA

    One of the three grand shrines, Kumano Nachi Taisha is located halfway up Nachi Mountain, about 350 meters above sea level.

    It has its religious origin in the ancient nature worship of Nachi-no-Otaki falls.

    The branches of a giant camphor shades the roof of the worship hall.
  • VISIT SEIGANTO-JI

    Seiganto-ji temple was founded in the early 5th century and is one of the oldest buildings in the region.

    The view from the temple grounds is dramatic, featuring a pagoda with the falls as a backdrop.
  • VISIT NACHI FALLS

    Nachi-no-Otaki is 133 meters high and 13 meters wide - the tallest waterfall in Japan.

    It's water source is the surrounding broad-leaf evergreen primeval forest, a sanctuary that has been protected since ancient times, used for ascetic training by mountain monks who practice Shugendo, a mixed religion of foreign and indigenous beliefs.

  • BUS FROM NACHI TO KII-KATSUURA (Kumano Kotsu)

      Depart: 11:46 Nachi-no-Taki-mae

      Arrive: 12:10 Kii-Katsuura

    PRICE: 620 yen

  • LUNCH

    There are a diversity of small restaurants near the station.  Ask at the tourist information office in the Kii-Katsuura station.
  • TRAIN FROM KII-KATSUURA TO SHIN-OSAKA (JR Kuroshio 20)

     Depart: 13:05 Kii-Katsuura

      Arrive: 16:50 Shin-Osaka

    TIP: Sit on the lefthand side of the train for the best coastal views.

  • OTHER OPTIONS

    There are a few options after the trek including the following:

    1. Staying another night in the Katsuura area to enjoy some downtime to recuperate from the walk.
    2. Head east up the coast towards Ise and Nagoya.
    3. Stay in Kushimoto area to enjoy the rugged coast line.

  Select Date

Model Itinerary KUMANO KODO Highlight Walks - 4 days | Nakahechi, Hongu, Boat & Nachi
Start Date
- 4 Days, 3 Nights

*Requests must be made 10 or more days in advance.

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Vegetarian

 : Included  : Not Included

  • : Meat
  • : Fish & Seafood
  • : Eggs
  • : Dairy Products
  • : Katsuo Dashi (fish stock)
Type A
Type B
Type C
Type D
Type E
Vegetarianism is not common in the Japanese countryside. Please double-check the Vegetarian Type which the service provider can accommodate to make sure that it meets your needs. Often being able to eat trace amounts of the ubiquitous Katsuo Dashi (fish stock) makes it easier to find options.

More Information

NOTE: It is difficult and not culturally sensitive to change meal requests, or make new meal demands, onsite when you arrive at accommodations. Vegetarian types must be confirmed during the reservation process and respected during your visit.