Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 4 days

A condensed version of the wonderful Nakahechi route, introducing you to the highlights of the Kumano Kodo. With 3 hikes of 2-7 hours, this tour offers more challenging options on day 3 for avid hikers and is eligible for Dual Pilgrim certification.

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 4 days

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January 2024
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Tour details

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 4 days
x1 traveller
USD 0
Single room additional charge
USD 330
TOTAL
USD 0

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:
    Active
    Level
  • Availability: All year (snow falls occasionally from December to March)
  • Type:Self-guided
    Level
  • Price: USD 1,210(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
Highlights
  • Visit the atmospheric Hongu Grand Shrine and Hayatama Grand Shrine
  • Enjoy enchanting sections of the Kumano Kodo for travellers with more limited time
  • Taste excellent Japanese cuisine freshly-prepared with local ingredients
  • Sleep on futon laid out on tatami-mat flooring in traditional Japanese inns
  • Bathe in the thermal waters at a hot spring ryokan
  • Earn credentials to receive Dual Pilgrim status

South of Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto and bustling Osaka lies the Kii Peninsula, the largest peninsula on Japan’s main island of Honshu. The history of this region goes back more than 1,000 years and pilgrims ranging from emperors to common folk walked the trails. The Kumano Kodo is made up of these routes, including the Nakahechi, Kohechi, Iseji, Kiiji, and Ohechi.

Our 4-day Kumano Kodo tour is our shortest on this ancient pilgrimage, and introduces you to the classic Nakahechi route, weaving through forested mountains and small villages towards Hongu Grand Shrine.

After visiting ridgetop villages and peaceful countryside settlements, arrive in Hongu to visit Hongu Grand Shrine. Complete your journey from Hongu and arrive in Shingu, home of Hayatama Grand Shrine and Kamikura Shrine, a sacred place where it is believed the gods first descended before being enshrined.

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

If you’re looking for a condensed version of the Kumano Kodo experience, our 4-day self-guided tour will introduce you to many of its highlights, as you enjoy delicious local meals at your traditional Japanese inns and refresh yourself in onsen in between your hikes.

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

Daily luggage transfer is also available along the Kumano Kodo trail as an optional extra service.

Download PDF Itinerary

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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
Detailed maps
Local support by telephone and at our Kumano Kodo branch
Our Preparing for Your Trip and Travelling in Japan guidebooks
What is not included
Flights
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
Itinerary
Map

 

Our tour includes train tickets for your journey from Kyoto or Osaka to the small town of Kii-Tanabe on the mystical Kii Peninsula, gateway to the historic Kumano Kodo Trail. The railway line runs close to the ocean for the latter part of the journey and offers fine views out over the sea. The journey from Osaka to Kii-Tanabe is around two and half hours; from Kyoto it is around three hours and usually requires a change of trains at Shin-Osaka station. Board a local bus outside Kii-Tanabe station and travel forty minutes to Takijiri. This is where your walk on the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route begins. From Takijiri the path climbs steadily to the ridge-top village of Takahara, and takes around two hours.

 

Stay tonight in a small, Japanese-style minshuku in the tiny village of Takahara, or in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. Both serve delicious home-cooked dinners featuring local seasonal ingredients.

 

Walking distance: 4.5 km / 2.8 mi

Elevation gain: 370 m / 1,200 ft

Time required: About 2 hours

 

Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse)

Meals: Dinner

 

 

After your Japanese breakfast, you leave your inn and follow the trail as it winds through small settlements and peaceful countryside. You pass several oji shrines before finally descending to the village of Chikatsuyu. The paths are clearly defined, and flagstones have been laid in some places to make the climbs easier. Arrive in Chikatsuyu in time to relax before dinner at a family-run guesthouse.

 

Walking distance: 10 km / 6.5 mi
Elevation gain: 480 m / 1,575 ft of ascent and 520 m / 1,700 ft of descent
Time required: About 4 - 5 hours

 

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

 

chikatsuyu

 

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’ which 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: 120 m / 395 ft of ascent and 360 m / 1,180 ft of descent

Time required: About 2 hours

 

If you prefer a more challenging day, we offer two longer alternatives of 7 hours (15 km / 9 mi) or of 8-9 hours (24 km / 14.9 mi), both with significant ascent and descent. 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

 

hongu

Before or after breakfast, take time to explore the atmospheric village of Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen. Travel by bus along the picturesque valley to Shingu and visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano, 15 minutes on foot from Shingu Station. The tourist office is located directly in front of Shingu Station, where the bus arrives; they can supply maps and advice. Within the shrine precinct is a giant nagi tree about a thousand years old. ‘Nagi dolls’ made from the seeds of this tree are believed to bring about lucky encounters with the opposite sex or a happy married life to couples.

 

Kamikura Shrine on Mount Gongen, further on from Hayatama Grand Shrine, is also well worth a visit. People worship a large rock as a god here and the shrine is extremely atmospheric. After visiting the sights of Shingu, use the train tickets we provide for the train journey onwards to Osaka or Kyoto. The journey takes around five hours, arriving in Osaka or Kyoto early- to mid-evening.

 

Meals: Breakfast

 

kamikura-shrine

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