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Japan's Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

The UNESCO World Heritage trek

Guidebook to walking Japan's Kumano Kodo, a network of ancient pilgrimage trails on the Kii Peninsula, south of Osaka. Covering the Nakahechi, Kohechi and Iseji trails, as well as Koyasan and the Choishimichi route, the guide has all the practical information needed, along with notes on the routes' rich history and culture.


Spring and late autumn are best, although the Nakahechi can be walked year-round. Summer is humid and wet. Expect snow in winter at higher elevations such as Koyasan, and a dusting at lower altitudes.


Tanabe, Hongu, Shingu, Nachisan, Nachi-Katsuura, Koyasan, Owase, Kumano


No specialist equipment is required on any of these trails, however sturdy hiking shoes/boots, trekking poles, wet-weather gear and a good level of fitness are necessary. The Kohechi is a mountain trail recommended for experienced hikers only. Many of the trails feature moss-covered flagstone paths, intricate tree roots and steep ascents and descents.

Must See

The three grand shrines of Kumano, Koyasan spiritual complex, coastal views from Gotobiki-iwa rock and Funami-chaya teahouse remains, the Hyakken-gura sea of mountains, Obako-toge summit, Hatenashi settlement, historic ishitatami flagstone paths, traditional Japanese inns, delicious local cuisine, hot-spring bathing
11 Apr 2019
16 Feb 2024
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.40cm

A guidebook to walking Japan’s UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, covering the Nakahechi, Choishimichi/Koyasan and Kohechi routes, as well as a Hongu loop and highlights of the Iseji route. Since many of the trails involve steep ascents and descents, a moderate level of fitness is required.

Routes vary from 5 to 64km (3–40 miles). Some can be enjoyed in a single day or half-day, whereas the Nakahechi and Kohechi routes lend themselves to a 4-day mini-trek.

  • GPX files available to download
  • 1:50,000 mapping plus larger-scale maps for key towns and the main shrines
  • Detailed information on public transport, accommodation and refreshments
  • Advice on planning and preparation
  • Fascinating insights into Japanese culture and spirituality

Table of Contents
Kat Davis Cicerone author KDAVIES

By Kat Davis

Originally from Melbourne, after graduating from university, Kat moved to Japan. Working as an adventure tour guide in Japan helped Kat develop her skills to seek out the local hotspots and also develop a love for hiking. 'A wise man climbs Mt Fuji, a fool climbs it twice' is a popular Japanese saying, so Kat climbed it 7 times. From Japan to Canada to London, she quit her office job in 2013 to walk the Camino de Santiago and has never looked back. She completed seven Caminos and walked over 10,000km in Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, Japan and America, including the 4240km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. Sadly Kat's life was cut short in early 2020. She is fondly remembered for her meticulous work, inspiration and energy.

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