The route that we most regularly propose to guests wishing to hike the Kumano Kodo is the Nakahechi Imperial Route, followed by Kogumotori-goe and then the Ogumotori-goe.
This Kumano Kodo route takes in two of the grand temples of the Kumano Kodo, Hongu Taisha and Nachi Taisha, walks through spectacular mountain terrain and along historic cobbled pilgrimage paths, passing through and staying in traditional Japanese guesthouses in authentic rural Japanese villages, and finishing up at the Nachi waterfalls.
For walkers who’ve booked through Hiking Trails, the walk starts with a pre-walk briefing at Ki Tanabe station, which is about 2 hours by train from Osaka / Shin Osaka, and the hiking starts in earnest at the trailhead at nearby Takajiri. Over the course of the pilgrimage trail walkers make their way to Nachisan where the walk finishes up, and from there return to Osaka and beyond from nearby Kii Katsuura station.
Nakahechi Imperial Route
On these walks the first three days are the Nakahechi Imperial Route, starting at Takajiri and walking to Takahara to stay the first night, then walking Takahara to Tsugizkura or Chikatsuya the second day, and then from Chikatsuya or Tsugizkura to Hongu Taisha (temple) on the third day (this is the longest day of walking). Then finishing with a short local bus ride to your accommodation at Yunomine Onsen.
“The Nakahechi Imperial Route is the most popular route to the Kumano Kodo Grand Shrines and was historically extensively travelled by the Imperial Royal Family on pilgrimage from Kyoto. It has a rich history and is characterised by Oji shrines found along the walk. The earliest records of this route date from the beginning of the 10th Century.”
After Hongu Taisha you’d be then walking the Kogumotori-goe from Ukegawa (a short bus ride to from Yunomine Onsen) to Koguchi for your next night. This walk is 13km long, ascending 670m and descending 690m, ending up in Koguchi.
Then on the final day of walking (the steepest climb) the Ogumotori-goe from Koguchi to Nachi Taisha. These final two days cross the Kii Peninsula mountains from Hongu Taisha through to the coast, where you’ll complete the walk at the Nachi Taisha temple and waterfalls. This leg is 14km long, ascending 1260m and descending 930m.
From Nachi Taisha it’s a short local bus ride to Kii Katsuura.
This route does require catching local buses at a couple stages. These can’t be booked in advance and are therefore are not included in packages booked by Hiking Trails however information on where and when these are needed are included in the itinerary for all bookings.
Check out this Kumano Kodo package deal on our Kumano Kodo page.