Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 5 days

Hike Ise's sacred Mount Asama, whose Kongosho-ji Temple is considered the protector of Shinto's holiest Ise Grand Shrine.

From cobblestone trails to sandy beachside walking, the coastal Iseji Kumano Kodo trail features some of the oldest sections of the pilgrimage and connects the region’s two most spiritually significant shrines: Ise Grand Shrine in Mie down to Hayatama Grand Shrine on the eastern Kii Peninsula.

Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 5 days

Number of travellers

Start date

January 2024

Tour details

Kumano Kodo Iseji self-guided walking 5 days
x1 traveller
Single room additional charge
USD 420

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: 5 days
  • Trip level:
  • Availability: All year (snow falls occasionally from December to March)
  • Type:Self-guided
  • Price: USD 1,490(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
  • Visit 2 of the Grand Shrines of Kumano, Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine
  • Traverse remote forests and take in coastal views on the ancient Iseji route
  • Visit Ise Grand Shrine, considered the most sacred site in Japan
  • Enjoy bathing in hot spring waters
  • Experience Kongosho-ji Temple, built by the founder of Shingon Buddhism

Situated on the tip of the Kii Peninsula, Ise is a coastal town home to the holiest shrine in all of Japan: Ise Grand Shrine. Called Ise Jingu in Japanese, Ise Grand Shrine is a sacred place dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. The shrine is strongly associated with the Imperial family, and is rebuilt from the bottom up every 20 years. More than 100 shrines dot the complex, with the 2 most significant being the Inner Shrine, Naiku, and Outer Shrine, Geku.

The Iseji route of the Kumano Kodo connects this revered holy ground with the Kumano Sanzan (熊野三山/Three Grand Shrines of Kumano), making it a pilgrimage undertaken by countless individuals over thousands of years. This coastal trail features some of the very oldest sections of the UNESCO-certified Kumano Kodo, dating back at least to Japan’s Heian Period.

Our 5-day self-guided tour following the Iseji route begins with two days to see the significant spiritual sites of Ise and a rewarding hike up the nearby Mount Asamagatake, providing excellent views out over Ise Bay. In between your time spent exploring the route, you’ll enjoy two nights at a charming onsen town inn.

After time to appreciate Ise, take a scenic coastal train to the small town of Nigishima, the entry point of two days of great hiking along the Iseji route. Take in cobblestoned mountain passes, enjoy beach walks, and visit quiet hamlets before heading to Kii-Katsuura.

Your final evening is spent in the lively fishing town of Kii-Katsuura, gateway to two of the Kumano Kodo’s Grand Shrines of pilgrimage – Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Shrine. Before leaving the Kii Peninsula, you can visit 2 of Kumano’s Grand Shrines, Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine, just as pilgrims in times past.

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

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


4 nights at Japanese inns along the Kumano Kodo Trail
4 breakfasts and 4 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 two nights as you explore the region.


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, take a short train ride towards Mount Asamagatake, passing through a small village to reach the trail for today.


From here there is a steady path climb to the top of Mount Asamagatake, along the Asamagatake Pass. At the top enjoy great views and a visit to Kongosho-ji Temple, built by the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi. After heading back down on foot, take a short train ride and return to your inn for the evening, where there will be time to explore the spiritual sites and enjoy views out over the coast.


Walking distance: 12.1 km / 7.5 mi
Elevation gain: 790 m / 2591 ft of ascent and 690 m / 2,263 ft of descent
Time required: About 5 hours


Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or Japanese-style hotel in Futaminoura
Meals: Breakfast, 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 and 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. Head to Hayatama Grand Shrine in Shingu City, then move to Kii-Katsuura for a final overnight stay in the region at a comfortable hotel.


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 3.4 km (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

Enjoy a final morning on Mount Nachi, a sacred mountain with Nachi Grand Shrine and Nachi Falls before heading onward to Osaka or Kyoto by train.

It is also possible to stroll around Kii-Katsuura town, 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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