Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 6 days

The quintessential Kumano Kodo experience on the classic Nakahechi route.

Experience all of the best parts of the classic Nakahechi route on our best-loved offering. Suitable for hiking enthusiasts, enjoy village-to-village walking with 5 hikes of 2-7 hours. Eligible for Dual Pilgrim certification!

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 6 days

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April 2024
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Tour details

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 6 days
x1 traveller
USD 0
Single room additional charge
USD 560
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: 6 days
  • Trip level:
    Intermediate
    Level
  • Availability: All year (snow falls occasionally from December to March)
  • Type:Self-guided
    Level
  • Price: USD 1,495(Price per person, based on 2 travellers sharing a room)
Highlights
  • Enjoy the most enchanting sections of the Kumano Kodo on our best-loved tour on this trail 
  • Visit two of Kumano’s grand shrines, Hongu Grand Shrine and Nachi Grand Shrine 
  • Take in Nachi Falls, Japan’s tallest single-drop waterfall 
  • Earn credentials to receive Dual Pilgrim status 
  • Spend more time in the serene nature of the Kumano Kodo including the Ogumotorigoe Pass 
  • Enjoy delicious, homemade meals with fresh, local ingredients each day 

The Kumano Kodo is an ancient pilgrimage located on the remote Kii Peninsula, its mysterious atmosphere further amplified by the high rainfall and resulting mist that hangs over the mountains and valleys. With a history going back more than 1,000 years, the Kumano Kodo has long been a pilgrimage walked by people from all levels of society, ranging from common folk to emperors. 

This ancient pilgrimage is made up of several trails, including the Nakahechi, Kiiji, Iseji, Kohechi, and Ohechi. Our 6-day Kumano Kodo self-guided tour is our best-loved Kumano Kodo offering and explores the classic Nakahechi route, including the Ogumotorigoe Pass approach to Nachi Grand Shrine. 

Walk village to village as you take in the scenery provided by the Kii Mountains, believed to be a sacred location that serves as the home of the gods. Try your hand at shinrinyoku (森林浴/forest bathing) and feel the serenity of the deep, forested walks and dreamy landscapes softly blanketed in fog. You will have ample opportunities to take in gorgeous mountain scenery, sample exquisite local cuisine, enjoy soaking in onsen hot springs to soothe you after a day of hiking, and visit all three of the Grand Shrines of Kumano. 

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. 

Have you walked the Camino de Santiago? You can obtain Dual Pilgrim status on our Kumano Kodo tours, or earn 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
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
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: Japanese-style hotel in Takahara or minshuku (family-run guesthouse) in Kurisugawa 

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. We have shorter and longer hiking options to choose from this day, all of which include the 'can't miss' walk between Hosshinmon-oji and Hongu Grand Shrine. 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: 24 km / 14.9 mi 

Elevation gain: 820 m / 2,700 ft of ascent and 1,140 m / 3,740 ft of descent 

Time required: About 8 - 9 hours, requiring an early start! 

 

We offer two shorter alternatives of 7 hours (15 km / 9 mi) or of 2 hours (7 km / 4 mi), using a local bus from Chikatsuyu to shorten the walk. 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 

 

yunomine-onsen

Take time to explore the atmospheric village where you spent the night, before undertaking one of two possible hiking options: ascend the Kogumotorigoe path towards Koguchi or undertake another section close to Hongu, with excellent valley views. The first option begins with a short bus ride to Ukegawa on the banks of the Kumano River. From Ukegawa, you start on the Kogumotorigoe path, which heads up to the Kogumotorigoe Pass before descending to the remote village of Koguchi. The trail is not difficult and should take you about 4 hours. 

 

Walking distance: 12.4 km / 7.7 mi 

Elevation gain: 520 m / 1,705 ft of ascent and 500 m / 1,640 ft of descent 
Time required: About 4 hours 

 

For guests spending a second evening close to Hongu, we offer various excellent hiking options up to 6 hours, the longest of which can generally be undertaken completely on foot. We offer a number of alternatives from 1 up to 6 hours (13 km / 8 mi) if staying close to Hongu. 

 

Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse) or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) 

Meals: Breakfast, dinner 

 

The final section of the trail takes you from Koguchi up to the Ogumotorigoe Pass with a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. It then descends to Mount Nachi, the location of Nachi Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano and Nachi Falls. Stay overnight either in the small village of Mount Nachi close to the shrine, or take a local bus for the twenty-minute ride to the port town of Kii-Katsuura, with wonderful views over the island-studded bay. Enjoy dinner and breakfast served by your hosts at your accommodation. 

 

Walking distance: 15.1 km / 9.3 mi 

Elevation gain: 980 m / 3,215 ft of ascent and 920 m / 3,020 ft of descent 
Time required: About 6 - 7 hours 

 

Accommodation: Minshuku (family-run guesthouse) or 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. It is also possible to visit Hayatama Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. 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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