KUMANO KODO Trek - 5 days | Nakahechi, Takijiri to Hongu, Shingu & Nachi

  • Traditional Boat Tour

    Traditional Boat Tour

  • Takahara Settlement

    Takahara Settlement

  • Fushiogami-oji on Kumano Kodo

    Fushiogami-oji on Kumano Kodo

  • Stairs to Kamikura-jinja in Shingu

    Stairs to Kamikura-jinja in Shingu

Rating & Reviews

4.8

 Description

This itinerary included a variety of experiences related to the ancient Kumano pilgrimage.

 There are some walks on the main portion of the Nakahechi pilgrimage, a visit to all three Kumano Grand Shrines, a trip on a traditional boat, and a few nights in onsen villages to enjoy the hot springs.

 There is a diversity of walks: a bit of challenge (first two days) with some steeper climbs and descents (without being exhausting!) and easier highlight walks around the shrine areas (last 3 days).


Route: Kyoto/Osaka | Tanabe | Takahara | Chikatsuyu | Hongu | Yunomine Onsen | Shingu | Katsuura | Nachi | Osaka/Kyoto
Duration: 5 days & 4 nights (all 5 days have walks)
Overnight: Takahara, Chikatsuyu, Yunomine Onsen, Katsuura
Overall Level: Intermediate
Type: Self-guided or guided
Transportation: Train, Bus, Walk
Daily Luggage Shuttle: Available for all days
Walking Difficult: Day 1=2.5, Day 2=3, Day 3=2, Day 4=1.5, Day 5=1.5
What is walking difficulty?
Recommended For: Those who are good walkers looking for a bit of challenge (first two days), but also highlight walks (last 3 days)

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 Kyoto/Osaka to Kii-Tanabe (3 hrs)

     Bus from Kii-Tanabe to Takijiri (~40 min)

     Walk Takijiri-oji to Takahara (3.7 km, ~2.5 hrs)

     Stay in Takahara

DAY 2

     Walk Takahara to Chikatsuyu-oji (9 km, 5~6 hrs)

     Stay in Chikatsuyu

DAY 3

     Bus from Chikatsuyu to Hongu (~30 min)

     Bus from Hongu to Hosshinmon-oji (~15 min)

     Walk Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha (~7 km, ~3 hrs)

     Bus from Hongu to Yunomine Onsen (~20 min) or walk (~2 km, 1~2 hr)

     Stay in Yunomine Onsen

DAY 4

     Bus from Hongu to Michi-no-Eki Kumanogawa (~30 min)

     Boat tour to Shingu (~1 hr 30 min)

     Bus/train from Shingu to Katsuura (~40 min or less)

     Stay in Katsuura Onsen

DAY 5

     Bus from Kii-Katsuura Station to Daimon-zaka (~10 min)

     Walk Daimon-zaka to Kumano Nachi Taisha (total ~2.5 km, ~2 hrs)

     Bus from Nachisan to Kii-Katsuura (~20 min)

     Train from Kii-Katsuura to Shin-Osaka (~3 hr, 50 min)

 Itinerary Map

 Highlights

Walk Kumano Kodo

Ancient pilgrimage route network in the Kii mountains.

Visit Kumano Hongu Taisha

One of the three Kumano grand shrines.

Stay in traditional accommodation
Try a traditional Ryokan inn and/or family run guesthouse.
Soak in Yunomine Onsen

Japan’s spiritual hot spring on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route with over 1800 years of history.

Traditional Boat Experience

Kumano-gawa river pilgrimage trip.

Visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha

One of the three Kumano grand shrines.

Visit Katsuura Onsen

Hot spring fishing port on Pacific coast.

Walk Daimon-zaka

Ancient stone staircase lined with ancient trees.

Visit Kumano Nachi Taisha

Home to Japan’s tallest waterfall.

Eat local cuisine
Immerse yourself in Japan’s countryside culinary traditions.

 Detailed Itinerary

BEFORE YOUR TRIP

  • 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 & Takijiri, Walk Kumano Kodo
Overnight: Takahara

  • DAY 1 OVERVIEW

    DAY ONE is a transfer to the trailhead at Takijiri-oji by train and bus, followed by a shorter but steep walk on the Kumano Kodo to the Takahara Settlement.

    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 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.
  • LUNCH

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

     Depart: 12:50 Kii-Tanabe

     Arrive: 13:38 Takijiri


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

    PRICE: 960 yen

    NOTE: You can buy your bus ticket at the vending machine in the information center.
  • VISIT KUMANO KODO PILGRIMAGE CENTER

    The round Kumano Kodo Kan Pilgrimage Center is located across the river from Takijiri-oji.

    There are introductory exhibitions in Japanese and English about the pilgrimage route.  

    Toilets and vending machines are available.
  • VISIT TAKIJIRI-OJI

    Takijiri-oji is one of the main trailheads of the Nakahechi route.

    It is here that the passage into the sacred mountains begins—the entrance to the abode of the gods and Buddhist paradises of rebirth.

    There were once extensive halls, a bath house, lodgings for pilgrims, and residences for priests, priestesses and monks in the area.
  • WALK KUMANO KODO - TAKIJIRI-OJI TO TAKAHARA

     Distance: ~4 km
     Time: 2~3 hr
     Elevation Gain: ~430 m
     Elevation Loss: ~200 m

    This is a short but steep uphill walk from Takijiri to the ridge top settlement of Takahara.  The trailhead is located behind the Takijiri-oji shrine pavilion.

    NOTE: The trail starts off with a challenging grade so set a slow, easy pace, watching your steps on the rocks and roots.

    Kumano Kodo Map

  • VISIT TAKAHARA

    Takahara is a small settlement on a ridgeline with panoramic views of the Hatenashi mountain range. 

    It is the site of the mystical Takahara Kumano-jinja shrine, one of the oldest buildings along this section of the pilgrimage route. The shrine grounds are home to giant camphor trees, over 800 years old!

    Takahara is known as "Kiri-no-Sato" (Village in the Mist) because the scenic vistas are often blanketed with mist. The valley below dramatically fills with fog, creating a beautiful sea of clouds.
  • OVERNIGHT IN TAKAHARA

    There are a few options in Takahara including the Kiri-no-Sato Takahara Lodge and smaller facilities, such as rental houses.
  • SUPPER

    At accommodation.

DAY 2
Walk Kumano Kodo, Takahara to Chikatsuyu
Overnight: Chikatsuyu

  • DAY 2 OVERVIEW

    DAY TWO is a day walk on the Kumano Kodo from Takahara to Chikatsuyu village.
  • BREAKFAST

    At accommodation.

    LUNCH BOX

    Pick-up lunch box at accommodation.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Leave luggage at accommodation.
  • WALK KUMANO KODO - TAKAHARA TO CHIKATSUYU

     Distance: ~10 km
     Time: 4~6 hr
     Elevation Gain: ~590 m
     Elevation Loss: ~640 m

    This walk continues into the forested mountains east of Takahara climbing up and over ridges into the next watershed, descending into the village of Chikatsuyu.

    NOTE: The Michi-no-Eki rest area near numbered signpost 23 sells drinks, snacks, and simple meals.

    Kumano Kodo Map

  • LUNCH

    Picnic lunch along the trail or at Michi-no-Eki rest area.
  • VISIT CHIKATSUYU

    The village after Takahara is Chikatsuyu where the clear Hiki-gawa river runs through the valley.

    On the east side of Chikatsuyu-oji is Hashiori-jaya cafe, a small and cozy spot for a break.  

    Or a little further on the Chikatsuyu Experience Center's restaurant called Kotorinoki housed in a renovated historic home.

    Cafe Bocu is a lovely renovated farm house.
  • OVERNIGHT IN CHIKATSUYU

    There are some minshuku guesthouses and rental houses in Chikatsuyu.
  • SUPPER

    At accommodation.

DAY 3
Walk Kumano Kodo, Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha
Overnight: Yunomine Onsen

  • DAY 3 OVERVIEW

    Transfer by bus and 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.

    LUNCH BOX

    Pick-up lunch box at accommodation.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Leave luggage at accommodation.
  • BUS FROM CHIKATSUYU TO HONGU (Meiko Bus)

     Depart: 9:07 Nakahechi Bijutsukan (Nakahechi Museum)

     Arrive: 9:37 Hongu Taisha-mae


    PRICE: 1070 yen

    NOTE: There is also a direct bus from Chikatsuyu to Hosshinmon-oji which departs earlier at 7:36.
  • BUS FROM HONGU TO HOSHINMON-OJI (Ryujin Bus)

     Depart: 10:10 Hongu Taisha-mae

     Arrive: 10:25 Hosshinmon-oji


    PRICE: 460 yen

    NOTE: Transfer at the same bus stop.
  • WALK KUMANO KODO - HOSSHIMON-OJI TO KUMANO HONGU TAISHA

     Distance: ~7.5 km
     Time: 2~3 hr
     Elevation Gain: ~190 m
     Elevation Loss: ~460 m

    The section from Hosshinmon-oji and Hongu is popular with a diversity of forested trail and settlement scenery.  This a good option to give more time to experience the shrines and sites in Hongu.  Take a local bus from Nonaka Ipposugi to Hosshimon-oji.


    NOTE: With this shorter walk often people include the Dainichi-goe route in the afternoon (Hongu to Yunomine Onsen) (~2 km, 1~2 hr).

  • LUNCH

    Picnic lunch along the trail or at restaurant in Hongu.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • BUS FROM HONGU TO YUNOMINE ONSEN (Ryujin Bus)

     Depart:  16:58 Hongu Taisha-mae

     Arrive:  17:09 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 4
Traditional Boat Tour, Visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha
Overnight: Katsuura Onsen

  • DAY 4 OVERVIEW

    DAY FOUR 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.

    LUNCH BOX

    Pick-up lunch box at accommodation.
  • LUGGAGE SHUTTLE

    Leave luggage at accommodation.
  • BUS FROM YUNOMINE ONSEN TO MICHI-NO-EKI KUMANO-GAWA (Kumano Kotsu)

      Depart: 8:40 Yunomine Onsen
      Arrive: 9:20 Michi-no-Eki Kumano-gawa

    PRICE: 1040 yen

  • TRADITIONAL BOAT TOUR

    The Kumano-gawa River was a vital section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route between Kumano Hongu Taisha in Hongu, and Kumano Hayatama Taisha in Shingu. 

    Journey on a traditional wooden flat-bottom boats as pilgrims have been doing for centuries. 

    This is a unique and fun way to get a river view perspective of Kumano’s spiritual landscape.
  • 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.
  • VISIT KAMIKURA-JINJA & GOTOBIKI-IWA

    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.

    NOTE: It is a short but steep walk on an ancient stone staircase, especially the first section, which is not for the faint of heart.
  • 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 KII-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 5
Visit Kumano Nachi Taisha, Transfer to Next Destination

  • DAY 5 OVERVIEW

    DAY FIVE 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 KATSUURA 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 - DAIMON-ZAKA

     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 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 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 Trek - 5 days | Nakahechi, Takijiri to Hongu, Shingu & Nachi
Start Date
- 5 Days, 4 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.