Kumano Kodo Kii Mountain Range
Kumano Kodo Daimonzaka Hill
Facts & Figures
Kumano Kodo describes a network of seven ancient pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains Range (Wakayama Prefecture) and Nakahechi is the most famous of them. These hiking trails are an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage site called "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range". The main purpose for these trails was to connect and worship at the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan) with the names Kumano Hayatama Taisha, Kumano Hongu Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. Interesting to know that there is only one other pilgrimage route in the world with the status of an World Heritage Site called Camino de Santiago in Spain.
The Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2004. Kumano Kodo´s history is dating back more than 1000 years. The pilgrimage was done by all parts of the society from the normal working class up to retired emperors.
Kumano Kodo is located in the southern part of the Wakayama Prefecture on the largest peninsula in Japan called Kii Hanto.
How to get to Kumano Kodo?
- 3hrs 10min from Nagoya Station to Shingu Station by JR Kansai and Kise Line or
- 4hrs from Shin-Osaka Station to Shingu Station by JR Hanwa and Kise Line
Nakahechi (Imperial Trail to Kumano) - it takes about 2 days for the 30km long hiking trail between Takijiri-oji shrine (near Tanabe city) and Kumano Hongu Taisha, enjoy beautiful nature and remote villages, Nakahechi is one of the most popular trails in Japan and in the past even the imperial family did many pilgrimages at this place, my tip: plan an overnight-stay in the village Chikatsuyu-oji
Kohechi (Mountainous Trail to Kumano) - be prepared for a challenging 72km trail through steep mountain areas in the center of the Kii Peninsula between Kumano Sanzan and the amazing temple complex of Koya-san (Mount Koya), follow in the footsteps by Buddhist monks which used this trail in the past
Iseji (Eastern Trail to Kumano) - the paved trail has a length of 170km and follows the east coast of the Kii Peninsula from the well-known Ise-jingu Shrine (located within the Mie Prefecture) to Kumano Sanzan, enjoy beautiful bamboo forests, rice paddies, beaches and remote villages, must-sees during your hiking tour are the Matsumoto Pass in Kumano city and the Magose Pass in Owase city, from 1603 till 1868 more and more pilgrimages at Iseji were done to worship at the Ise-jingu Shrine
Ohechi (Coastal Trail to Kumano) - is a 20km long trail along the coastline from Tanabe to Nachi Taisha (Nachi Falls) and the nearby Fudarakusanji Temple, the trail offers great views over the Pacific ocean and was praised by artists and writers, unfortunately in modern times most of the trail was replaced by new roads
Omine Okugake - is a very challenging 90km pilgrimage trail through steep mountain areas connecting Mount Yoshino (Nara Prefecture) to Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine (Wakayama Prefecture), this trail is a real adventure in beautiful nature so be prepared
Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)
Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival (13th till 15th)
This traditional and spiritual festival is closely related with the pilgrimage to Kumano and the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. On the 13th of April fathers carry their young sons, after a purification ceremony held at the sacred waters of Yunomine Onsen, on the shoulders and walking over the Dainichi-goe section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route to Oyunohara. Everyone is wearing traditional costumes, which makes this festival so beautiful. On the 15th of April a portable mikoshi shrine is temporarily housing the invoked Kumano Deities and carried to the original location of descend, Oyunohara sandbank. Enjoy this peaceful festival in the Kumano Mountains.
Aoba matsuri (festival) at Mount Koya (15th)
Traditional ceremonies and processions are performed at temples all over the town to celebrate Kobo Daishi's birthday.
Nachi-no-Hi-Matsuri (Fire Festival of Nachi) (14th of July)
The Nachi-no-Hi-Matsuri is one of the three largest fire festivals within Japan. It is held at Kumano Nachi Taisha (Grand Shrine). 12 pine torches with an incredible weight of 50 kg each are carried and waved around. The torches represent the 12 months of the year and the 12 deities (gods) dwelling in Kumano. The annual Fire Festival celebrates the god coming back to his original place, Nachi Falls (Nachi no Taki).
Mando-kuyo-e (Candle Festival) at Mount Koya (13th)
Thousands of candles are placed along the paths of the Okunoin cemetery.
Yata-no-Hi Matsuri Fire Festival (last Sat. in August)
The festival is held in Oyunohara (Hongu-cho). It honours the Yatagarasu crow (three legged crow). Do not miss Taiko drum and dancing shows, great fireworks and the parading of a fire mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine).
December - New Year's Eve
Illumination of the Nachi Falls
At night on New Year's Eve the falls are lit up and give this place a mythical atmosphere.