Kumano Kodo Kiiji self-guided walking 5 days

Begin on the Kiiji route before segueing into the classic Kumano Kodo experience on the Nakahechi route.

Once the original approach Emperors followed to the Kumano Kodo, the Kiiji trail can still be walked today, offering visits to Yuasa, deep cultural experiences and access to a more moderate version of the classic Nakahechi route.

Kumano Kodo Kiiji self-guided walking 5 days

Number of travellers

Start date

April 2024

Tour details

Kumano Kodo Kiiji self-guided walking 5 days
x1 traveller
Single room additional charge
USD 475

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 1,445(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
  • Enjoy the thermal hot spring waters at inns on several nights
  • Visit the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano at Hongu, Shingu, and Nachi
  • See two different sides of Kumano through coastal views and quiet mountain paths
  • Learn the deep history of the Kiiji coastal route through exclusive access to the inner shrine of Fujishiro Shrine
  • With varied cultural options, all walking can be reduced or removed for less confident walkers

The original access point of the Kumano Kodo, the Kiiji route features gentler hikes and a rich history to explore as a trail frequently utilised by abdicated emperors on their way to the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. Our 5-day self-guided tour starts on this ancient route and heads south along the coast as you visit Fujishiro Shrine, believed by many pilgrims to be the true entry point of the Kumano Kodo, before heading on to the atmospheric town of Yuasa, the birthplace of Japanese soy sauce. Yuasa is also home to a beautifully preserved district, the only one in Wakayama Prefecture to be classified as a Historic Preservation District of Traditional Buildings, creating the feeling of being teleported back to the Edo Period.

You continue on to Tanabe, which is where the Kumano Kodo branches off into the coastal Ohechi and inland Nakahechi trails. Head inland onto the classic Nakahechi, and with no more than 4 hours of hiking a day, you will have more time to discover the local communities along this pilgrimage route and the shrines that have drawn pilgrims for centuries. Along your pilgrimage, you will visit the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano before heading onwards by train.

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.

Have you walked the Camino de Santiago? You can obtain Dual Pilgrim status on our tour, or collect your stamps and obtain the status on your future Camino de Santiago trip.

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 journey along the Kiiji route of the Kumano Kodo begins with a train ride from either Kyoto or Osaka, heading south into the Kii Peninsula. You arrive in the town of Shimizu-Ura and head towards Fujishiro Shrine, considered by many pilgrims to be the true entry point of the Kumano Kodo. Walk along a wonderfully preserved section of the Kiiji trail, with an optional side trip to Kitsumoto Shrine, an important spiritual site and one of the oldest along the walk, before heading on. 


In the evening, stay at a comfortable traditional inn nearby.


Walking distance: 5.3 km / 3.3 mi
Elevation gain: 300 m / 980 ft of ascent and 270 m / 885 ft of descent
Time required: About 2 hours


Including the optional side trip to the shrine, the full hike is around 3-4 hours (8.9km / 5.5 miles) on foot.


Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or minshuku (family-run guesthouse) in Yuasa

Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Today you depart from the coast and head inland towards the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo. After boarding a local bus, travel 40 minutes into the mountains to the small settlement of Takijiri.

From here there is a steady path climb to the quiet ridge-top village of Takahara, taking roughly 2 hours. After enjoying the great views here, take a short 30-minute stroll to the nearby bus stop and head on by local bus to reach your inn in Chikatsuyu for the evening, where there will be time to explore the local art gallery and shops. 
For a longer hike, we also offer the option to continue along the Kumano Kodo trail, with a further 4 hours of hiking to reach Chikatsuyu on foot.


Overnight at a traditional inn here for the evening.


Walking distance: 7.8 km / 4.8 mi
Elevation gain: 370 m / 1,200 ft of ascent and 600 m / 1,970 ft descent
Time required: About 2.5 hours


For the longer hike today, the full walk takes about 6 hours (14.5 km / 9.3 mi) on foot.


Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

From Chikatsuyu and Nonaka the trail continues through the mountains. Board a bus today and then walk a gentle section of the trail from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. At the heart of these sacred mountains, Kumano was said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, the ‘other world’ that spirits travelled to in Japanese mythology. From Hongu, a short bus ride brings you to Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest natural hot spring villages in Japan, or to Kawayu Onsen, famous for the thermal water bubbling to the surface of the crystal-clear river.


Enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before or after your delicious, multi-course dinner.


Walking distance: 7 km / 4 mi
Elevation gain: negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 2 hours


We offer two longer alternatives of 7 hours (15 km / 9 mi) or 8-9 hours (24 km / 14.9 mi). You can choose which option you prefer on the day—no need to decide in advance!


Accommodation: Onsen ryokan (hot spring inn)
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Departing from your ryokan, it is possible to visit both Hayatama Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine today, rounding out visits to all of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano after your visit to Hongu Grand Shrine yesterday. Overnight in Kii-Katsuura, an engaging port town on the eastern coast.


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

Kii-Katsuura is an active fishing port and has 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 at lunchtime, travelling back around the Kii Peninsula and arriving in Osaka or Kyoto mid to late afternoon.


Meals: Breakfast

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