Walk the Kumano Kodo Trail
Located on the Kii Peninsula, the ‘Kumano Kodo’ is one of only two – along with the Camino de Santiago in Spain – religious pilgrimage routes in the world to have been afforded World Heritage status. As such, walking the trails of the Kumano Kodo is one of Japan’s most rewarding experiences and suitable to anyone of reasonable fitness.
There are many routes that can be walked, varying in difficulty and length. The Nakahechi is one of the most popular. Stretching 30km from Tanabe on the west coast, this is a comfortable two-day walk – requiring an overnight stay in Chikatsuya Oji – which ends at the Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the Kumano Grand Shrines.
Collectively referred to as the ‘Kumano Sanzan’ comprises of the Kumano Hongu Taisha (Tanabe), Kumano Hayatama Taisha (Shingu), and Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Hongu and neighbouring Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple (Nachi-Katsuura).
Located at the centre of the Kumano Kodo network of pilgrimage trails, the Kumano Hongu Taisha serves as the head shrine for more than 3000 Kumano shrines spread throughout Japan. Along with the nearby Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha, the shrine is one of the grand shrines of Kumano, enshrining deities including the sun goddess Amaterasu.
The Kumano Kodo can be walked anytime of year but is best enjoyed from spring to autumn and suitable to persons of any faith or background.