Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 4 days

See the holiest shrine in Shintoism on this off-the-beaten-track coastal road.

The Iseji, one of the 5 Kumano Kodo trails, connects the region’s most important shrines of pilgrimage, Ise Grand Shrine in Mie, and Hayatama Grand Shrine on the eastern coast of the Kii Peninsula. The route offers varied walking, from cobblestone trails to sandy beachside walks.

Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 4 days

Number of travellers

Start date

November 2023

Tour details

Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 4 days
x1 traveller
Single room additional charge
USD 355

If you would like to do multiple tours in one trip or have a question about any of our tours, do not hesitate to contact us with the button below.

  • Duration: 4 days
  • Trip level:
  • Availability:
  • Type:Self-guided
  • Price: USD 1,210(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
  • Bathe in thermal hot spring waters
  • Visit Ise Grand Shrine, Japan’s most significant spiritual site
  • Take in a variety of breath-taking views, from coastal walks to cobblestoned paths
  • Visit two of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano, Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine

Ise Grand Shrine, or Ise Jingu in Japanese, is a large shrine complex in the coastal town of Ise and known as Japan’s most sacred shrine. Travellers come from around the country to to visit the complex, the two most significant being the Inner Shrine, Naiku, and Outer Shrine, Geku. In its totality, Ise Grand Shrine is comprised of more than 100 shrines and is approximately the size of Paris.

Ise serves as a wonderful entry point to the Iseji route of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, as this spiritual trail not only offers beautiful coastal views and quiet mountain paths but connects Ise Grand Shrine to Hayatama Grand Shrine in Shingu, holy ground that is part of the Kumano Sanzan (熊野三山/Three Grand Shrines of Kumano).

Our 4-day self-guided walking tour on the Iseji route begins with 2 days to take in Ise’s sacred sites, before heading to the small town of Nigishima to begin your hike. Enjoy a wonderful variety of beach walks and cobblestoned paths, and visit peaceful communities as you make your way toward Kii-Katsuura.

After arriving in the lively fishing town of Kii-Katsuura, where you spend your final night, you may wish to further explore on your final day, or perhaps complete your spiritual journey and visit 2 of Kumano’s Grand Shrines, Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine.

You’re supported by our team in Kyoto, our local Chikatsuyu office, and by our bespoke turn-by-turn walking instructions and bespoke topographical maps to guide you on your way, created by our team of hikers for you.

The trail takes you along cobblestone paths which, after rain, can become slippery. For some additional support, you may want to bring hiking poles with you.

Please note that onsen communal bathing features on every night of this tour. For guests who prefer private bathing or have tattoos, please inquire before booking.

What is included


3 nights at Japanese inns along the Kumano Kodo Trail
3 breakfasts and 3 dinners
Round-trip train tickets from Kyoto or Osaka
Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking directions
Topographical maps
Our Preparing for Your Trip and Travelling in Japan guidebooks
Local support by telephone and at our Kumano Kodo branch
What is not included


Airport transfers
Drinks and meals not included in itinerary
Local bus journeys which must be paid directly to the bus driver
Single room supplement(s) for solo occupancy
Daily Luggage Transfer

Your trip includes train tickets from either Kyoto or Osaka, heading east towards Ise. Arrive at Isuzugawa, situated between Ise Grand Shrine’s Inner Shrine and Outer Shrine, known as Naiku and Geku respectively. After a short bus ride, you will arrive at Sarutahiko Shrine, wherein Sarutahiko Okami is enshrined. This deity is believed to provide guidance to worshippers and visitors often come here to pray for assistance in finding the right path.


Stroll along the wonderfully preserved shopping street of Oharai-machi, with the option to visit the lively Okage Yokocho market, before arriving at Ise Grand Shrine’s Inner Shrine.


In the afternoon, you have the option to also take in Geku, the outer shrine close to Ise’s main train station, or to head straight on to Futaminoura along the coastline by bus, where you will spend the night.


Walking distance: 2.9 km / 1.8 mi
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and descent
Time required: About 1-2 hours


Including the optional visit to both shrines, the full walk would be around 3-4 hours (5.1km / 3.1 miles) on foot.


Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or Japanese-style hotel in Futaminoura
Meals: Dinner

Today, leave the northern area of Mie and take a train south from Ise to the eastern coasts of Mie and join the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage for the first time.


Upon arrival, take a taxi to the remote town of Nigishima and begin your hike south along the Iseji section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.


Head on by train and enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before or after your delicious, multi-course dinner.


Walking distance: 7.4 km / 4.5 mi
Elevation gain: 470 m / 1,541 ft of ascent and 465 m / 1,525 ft of descent
Time required: 3-4 hours


It is possible to shorten the walk to 4.2 km / 2.6 mi (2-3 hours). You can choose which option you prefer on the day—no need to decide in advance!


Accommodation: Onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Today, return to Hadasu enjoy one or two additional scenic sections of the Iseji pilgrimage.


After arriving at Hadasu by taxi, you walk to a nearby coastal town before continuing on to walk an additional section. Head to Kii-Katsuura in the afternoon for a final overnight stay in the region at a comfortable onsen hotel in this lively port town.


Walking distance: 5.7 km / 3.5 mi
Elevation gain: 310 m / 1,017 ft of ascent and 315 m / 1,033 ft of descent
Time required: 2-3 hours


It is possible to shorten the walk to 3.4km (1 to 2 hours). You can choose which option you prefer on the day – no need to decide in advance!


Accommodation: Onsen hotel (hot spring hotel)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

With an early start, it is possible to visit both Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine today before heading onward to Osaka or Kyoto by train.


Or, enjoy a final morning in Kii-Katsuura, an active fishing port with a lively early-morning fish market. Enjoy the views out over the island-studded bay. There are intriguing backstreets and a traditional, covered shopping arcade to explore, too. We provide train tickets for you to board a train in the afternoon, travelling back around the Kii Peninsula and arriving in Osaka or Kyoto mid to late evening.


Meals: Breakfast

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