This itinerary consists of one shorter walk from Yunomine Onsen to Kumano Hongu Taisha, and 2 full day walks culminating with a view of Japan’s tallest waterfall at Kumano Nachi Taisha.
The names of the passes are Kogumotori-goe (Ukegawa to Koguchi) and Ogumotori-goe (Koguchi to Nachi). The Ogumotori-goe is a challenging walk with long ascents and descents.
Duration: 4 days & 3 nights (2.5 days walking)
Overnight: Yunomine, Koguchi, Nachi
Overall Level: Advanced
Type: Self-guided or guided
Transportation: Train, Bus, Walk
Daily Luggage Shuttle: Available for all days
Walking Difficult: Day 1=2, Day 2=4, Day 3=5
What is walking difficulty?
Recommended For: Active Walkers
|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 depends on which accommodations and services you book.
All prices are online for your reference.
- DAY 1
Train from Kyoto to Kii-Tanabe (3 hrs)
Bus from Kii-Tanabe to Hongu (~2 hr, 20 min)
Walk Hongu to Yunomine Onsen (~2 km, 1~2 hrs)
Stay in Yunomine Onsen
- DAY 2
Bus from Yunomine Onsen to Ukegawa (~10 min)
Walk Ukegawa to Koguchi (~13 km, 4.5~6 hr)
Stay in Koguchi
- DAY 3
Walk Koguchi to Kumano Nachi Taisha (~14 km, 7~9 hr)
Stay in Nachi
- DAY 4
Bus from Nachisan to Kii-Katsuura station (~20 min)
Train from Kii-Katsuura to next destination
Soak in Yunomine Onsen
Japan’s spiritual hot spring on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route with over 1800 years of history.
BEFORE YOUR VISIT
PREPARATIONPreparation 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 VISITThe 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.
RESOURCESThere 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.
INCLUSIONSThe 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-GUIDEDThis 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 OPTIONSThere 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.
MEALSImmersing 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.
Transfer to Hongu area, Walk Kumano Kodo
Overnight: Yunomine Onsen
DAY 1 OVERVIEWDAY ONE is a transferring to Hongu, the heart of the sacred Kumano region: a train ride to Kii-Tanabe and then local bus to Hongu. Visit Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the main shrines of Kumano and then walk the short but steep Dainichi-goe section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route to Yunomine Onsen, Japan's spiritual hongu
NOTE: The Kumano Kodo is a mountain trail, therefore walking times vary greatly depending on weather, season, personal experience, and fitness. Please plan accordingly for a safe walk, as many people underestimate the difficulty of the terrain.
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 CENTERThis 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 CENTERThe 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 SHUTTLEDrop your bags off at the Kumano Travel Support Center and they will be delivered directly to your accommodation.
LUNCHAt a restaurant, or buy something to go. Ask at the tourist information center for ideas.
BUS FROM KII-TANABE STATION TO HONGU (Ryujin Bus)
VISIT KUMANO HONGU TAISHAOne 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.
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 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.
WALK KUMANO KODO "DAINICHI-GOE" - HONGU TO YUNOMINE ONSEN
Distance: ~2 km
Time: 1~2 hr
Elevation Gain: ~250 m
Elevation Loss: ~190 m
The Dainichi-goe is a short but steep trail connecting Hongu with Yunomine Onsen.
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 ONSENThere is a diversity of accommodations in Yunomine Onsen such as Ryokan inns, Minshuku lodgings, each with their own hot spring baths.
Walk Kumano Kodo, Ukegawa to Koguchi
DAY 2 OVERVIEWDAY TWO is a full day walk from Hongu south on the Kogumotori-goe section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route to the small village of Koguchi.
PICK UP LUNCH BOX
LUGGAGE SHUTTLELeave luggage at accommodation.
BUS FROM YUNOMINE ONSEN TO UKEGAWA (Kumano Kotsu)
Depart: 8:40 Yunomine Onsen
Arrive: 8:53 Ukegawa
PRICE: 330 yen
WALK KUMANO KODO "KOGUMOTORI-OGE" - UKEGAWA TO KOGUCHI
Distance: ~13 km
Time: 4.5~6 hr
Elevation Gain: ~670 m
Elevation Loss: ~690 m
The Kogumotori-goe is a pass over a mountain range between Hongu and Koguchi.
The northern section is a gradual climbing gradient, mid-section has some ups and downs, and the southern descent is the steepest portion.
LUNCHPicnic lunch along the trail.
VISIT KOGUCHIKoguchi is a tiny settlement in a valley bottom surrounding by lush green mountains, the stopping point for walkers between the Kogumotori-goe and Ogumotorie-goe sections.
Several small rivers converge here, offering enticing swimming sites in the summer months.
OVERNIGHT IN KOGUCHIThere is limited accommodations in Koguchi. If these are not available then transferring to a nearby village is an option, such as Kumano-gawa or Takata.
Walk Kumano Kodo, Koguchi to Kumano Nachi Taisha
DAY 3 OVERVIEWDAY THREE is a full day walk from Koguchi south on the Ogumotori-goe section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route to the shrine-temple complex of Nachisan and Japan's tallest waterfall.
This is considered one of the most difficult sections on the Nakahechi route: Not technically difficult but some long climbs and descents often with cobblestone lined trails, which can be slipperly, especially when wet.
PICK UP LUNCH BOX
LUGGAGE SHUTTLELeave luggage at accommodation.
WALK KUMANO KODO "OGUMOTORI-GOE" - KOGUCHI TO NACHISAN
Distance: ~14 km
Time: 7~9 hr
Elevation Gain: ~1260 m
Elevation Loss: ~930 m
The Ogumotori-goe connects Koguchi and Kumano Nachi Taisha, site of the divine Nachi-no-Otaki, Japan's tallest waterfall.
This is often considered the most difficult section on the Nakahechi route, so best to give yourself enough time to complete the walk.
As there are no escape routes, if one doesn't feel up to the challenge, take public transit to Shingu and then onto the shrine grounds.
LUNCHPicnic lunch along the trail.
VISIT SEIGANTO-JISeiganto-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 KUMANO NACHI TAISHAOne 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 NACHI FALLSNachi-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.
OVERNIGHT IN NACHISANMitaki Sanso guesthouse is located just below the shrine grounds. It is a 25 minute bus ride Kii-Katsuura station where other accommodations are located.
Bus to Katsuura, Continue to Next Destination
DAY 4 OVERVIEWDAY FOUR is the last morning of the visit. Spend some time in the morning to re-visit the shrine grounds and falls area before the crowds arrive.
Then bus to the Kii-Katsuura station where you can walk around the village and have lunch before taking the train back to Osaka.
BUS FROM NACHI TO KATSUURA (Kumano Kotsu)
Depart: 9:41 Nachi-no-Taki-mae
Arrive: 10:05 Kii-Katsuura
PRICE: 620 yen
VISIT KATSUURAKatsuura Onsen is a fishing port on the rugged Pacific coastline.
This coastal village famous for its hot spring baths and world-class seafood.
LUNCHThere are a diversity of small restaurants near the station. Ask at the tourist information office in the Kii-Katsuura station.
TIP: Leave your luggage in the coin-lockers at the station.
TRAIN FROM KII-KATSUURA TO 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 OPTIONSThere are a few options after the trek including the following:
1. Visiting the Kumano Hayatama Taisha in Shingu before taking the train to Osaka.
2. Staying another night in the Katsuura area to enjoy some downtime to recuperate from the walk.
3. Head east up the coast towards Ise and Nagoya.