Kumano Kodo Kiiji self-guided walking 6 days

Hike in the footsteps of emperors, and see the last producer of an important Japanese cultural craft.

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 6 days

Number of travellers

Start date

January 2024

Tour details

Kumano Kodo Kiiji self-guided walking 6 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: 6 days
  • Trip level:
  • Availability: All year (snow falls occasionally from December to March)
  • Type:Self-guided
  • Price: USD 1,720(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
  • Visit the last remaining producer of black bamboo in Japan
  • Walk the longest uninterrupted cobblestone path on the Kumano Kodo

The Kumano Kodo’s Kiiji route is believed to be the original access point of the Kumano Kodo, and connects to the more well-known classic Nakahechi route. Our 6-day self-guided walking tour introducing you to the Kiiji route features more gentle walking than other Kumano Kodo itineraries we offer, and once you enter the Nakahechi portion of your trip, we provide you with options so you may decide to enjoy the trail on your terms. Whether you wish to enjoy a slower pace, take in your surroundings, and explore to your heart’s content; or are excited to traverse as much of the trails as you can, we welcome you to experience this rewarding combination of the Kiiji and Nakahechi trails.

You start your journey on a beautifully preserved portion of the Kiiji route and enjoy a stop at Fujishiro Shrine. The torii gate here is also called the ‘first torii gate of Kumano’ and is believed to be the entry point of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. You also have time to explore the origin of Japanese soy sauce, Yuasa.

From here, you venture further on the Kumano Kodo, walking on a splendid cobblestone path that will take you to your next destination, Haradani in Hidaka. This town is home to the last remaining family producing black bamboo nationwide—shrines, temples, even gardens and the interiors of Japanese homes are all common places to find black bamboo. Spend some time with this welcoming family as they show you how their bamboo shop refines the bamboo and learn more about this unique craft. You’ll receive a small keepsake to bring home with you.

After completing the Kiiji portion of your trip, you will reach Tanabe, the point at which the Kumano Kodo branches off into some of its other trails. From here you will continue onto the classic Nakahechi route, exploring local communities, inland walks, and atmospheric shrines that continue to draw pilgrims to this day. 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


5 nights at Japanese inns along the Kumano Kodo Trail
5 breakfasts and 5 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. Alight 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. You then 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: Accommodation: Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or minshuku (family-run guesthouse) in Yuasa
Meals: Breakfast, dinner

Today, you start with a short taxi ride from Yuasa. Arriving at the trailhead, begin the walk towards Haradani, a quiet town further to the south. Although the walking is gentle, it features one of the highlights of the whole Kumano Kodo: a beautiful cobblestone path, the longest of its kind found on the Kumano Kodo.


After your walk today, you will visit a family-operated black bamboo production business in Haradani, the only one left! Enjoy your visit with this local artisan as you learn about the process and receive a handcrafted bamboo pen before transferring to your accommodation for the evening.


Walking distance: 7.9km / 4.9 miles
Elevation gain:  370m / 1210ft of ascent and 310m / 1010ft of descent
Time required:  About 2-3 hours


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

Today we depart from the coast and head inland towards the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo. After boarding a local bus, we 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, we take a short 30-minute stroll to the nearby bus stop and head on by local bus to reach our 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: 5.8 km / 3.6 mi
Elevation gain: 370 m / 1,200 ft of ascent and 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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