Kumano Kodo Day 4; Ukegawa to Koguchi

On the fourth day of our Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail walk, we started the day at Yuonomine Onsen where we’d stayed the previous night in a local Minshuku.

The hot spring running through the town at Yuonomine Onsen
The hot spring running through the town at Yuonomine Onsen

Like many of the days, the day started with a traditional Japanese breakfast at the lodge within with which we’d stayed. After breakfast and checking out, we had a very brief look around Yuonomine Onsen, although due to not having long until the next local bus was due to swing through Yuonomine which we’d be able to ride to Ukegawa, where we’d start the days walk.

Fun fact about Yuonomine Onsen… The locals boil eggs in bags in the natural hot spring water flowing through the town. Photo below. Although I’m not sure whether the hard boiled eggs that accompanied our breakfast.

Eggs being boiled in the Yuonomine Onsen waters
Eggs being boiled in the Yuonomine Onsen waters

After a short bus ride, we disembarked on the the side of the road at Ukegawa, along with a small handful of other walkers on the same local bus, for the same leg of the walk. Before leaving Ukegawa, we quickly knocked back a can of hot coffee from a vending machine. At the start of a days hike a small, easily accessible, sweet hot coffee hits the spot.

The hike started with a with a short climb up out of the town of Ukegawa which at a couple of points felt like we were walking through the local residents backyards. Shortly after we were again up in the mountains, surrounded by forest, and enjoying the spectacular vistas, being outdoors, and sense of solitude, quiet and being one with nature.

Hiking with Mum, who’d walked the Kumano Kodo a couple of times previously, she’d mentioned a few times that Day 4 was her favourite. A moderate walk, through lovely bush, and with lovely views. At one point there’s a small lookout point where apparently on a clear day if you stopped and counted them you’d see 3,000 peaks.

A couple of hours later, after more meandering through the trees and along the side of ridges we began a slow decent on a ancient stone cobbled path towards Koguchi. The the rocky path heading downward and the stones a little slippery with moss after some light rain earlier in the day (I think this was the only day it rained on our walk) made it slightly slower going.

Upon arrival in Koguchi, which was similarly quiet and deserted to Chikatsuya where we stayed on the second night, we needed to cross the bridge, walk up the road, through a small tunnel, and through the town of Koguchi to the local mini mart.

The river running through Koguchi
The river running through Koguchi

Koguchi was very similar to Chikatsuya in size, and in it’s feeling of being once brilliant and now forgotten. Again, with a significant river through the middle, surrounded by mountains, the town was a special, but sadly forgotten place. Beside the mini mart (which was very traditional don’t expect 7 Eleven, or JFC here), where we had instant ramen for a late lunch, there’s was a number of deserted buildings including a boarded up high school from a period past.

The abandoned high school at Koguchi
The abandoned high school at Koguchi

Across the road from the mini mart, beside a couple of drink vending machines, there was a payphone, from which we dialled the small hotel which was out of town where we’d booked for the night, and the courtesy shuttle came and collected us.

The hotel itself had the best onsen of the the places we stayed, with both indoor and outdoor baths for men and women. The place was a little larger than others we’d stayed at, and we enjoyed another traditional Japanese supper, and breakfast the next morning here. The next morning, the shuttle bus would drop us back at Koguchi to resume the Kumano Kodo walk.

< Back to Day 3 of our Kumano Kodo walk

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