Japan's Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage
The UNESCO World Heritage trek
By Kat Davis
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.
SeasonsSpring 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.
CentresTanabe, Hongu, Shingu, Nachisan, Nachi-Katsuura, Koyasan, Owase, Kumano
DifficultyNo 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 SeeThe 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
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