Recently I hiked the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO registered pilgrimage trail across the south east peninsular of Honshu, the main island of Japan with my mother. We completed the Kumano Kodo walk over 5 days and 4 nights staying in traditional Japanese ‘Minshuku’ guest houses along the way in the villages we passed.
Getting to Japan was easy with direct flights from Australia to Osaka, and we stayed in a hotel in Shin Osaka upon arrival and prior to departing. Shin Osaka which seems to be a suburb based around a large modern railway station with both local commuters and bullet trains out to other Japanese cities coming and going.
Shin Osaka was easily accessible from the airport by train, and similarly provided easy access to get down to, and back from the Kumano Kodo by train also.
On the day we set out, we started by catching a JR train from Shin Osaka down to Kii Tanabe which took about 2 hours, and then following a short walk and look around the town of Tanabe which was fairly closed up and quiet on the Saturday we were there, we then caught a local bus from the Tanabe train station out to the start of the Kumano Kodo.
Upon arrival at the start of the Kumano Kodo, we stopped briefly at a small roadside shop where I purchased a bamboo pole to act as my hiking pole for the next five days, and then we kicked off our hike.
The first day’s walking was about 2-3 hours, up some pretty steep mountain trail which was often surfaced by tree roots and rocks. We very quickly gained altitude and felt like we’d dissapeared into the forest.
Despite several other small groups of walkers being on the same local bus from Tanabe to the start of the Kumano Kodo, the walk itself quickly soaked up the varied walking parties leaving everyone to feel they had the trail largely to themselves.
Every now and again we’d pass (or be passed) by other walkers, exchanging pleasantries briefly and either commenting on the steep climb or the views depending on the terrain of the moment (climb or deceptive plateau).
Upon arriving at Takajira we found our accommodation, which for us in this town was a small hotel. Other walkers dissapeared off to different guest houses in this town, or some continued on slightly further to other places.
The Hotel had very friendly owners and staff, a great traditional Japanese evening meal, draft beer (which felt well earned), and spectacular view from it’s high elevation nest back down over the mountains and valleys. Plus the Hotel had indoor male and female communal baths for guests.
Skip to Day 2 of our Kumano Kodo walk >