The Kumano region is the mountainous southern portion of the Kii Peninsula. It is a prehistoric sacred site and has been a pilgrimage mecca for over 1000 years. The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes lead to three Grand Shrines based on ancient nature worship. Isolated hot springs are scattered along the trail. This fully-guided tour takes you through this cultural landscape visiting rural mountain-top villages and ancient sacred sites along the way. Walking and using charter vehicles enhance the experience of the journey in an immersive, relaxing manner.
Transfer by train from Osaka to the small Kii-Tanabe station where your local licensed English speaking guide will meet you.
Your chartered vehicle will drive you into the interior the rugged Kii Peninsula, past Takijiri-oji, the historic entrance to the sacred Kumano realm, to the tiny ridge top village of Takahara. Lunch with be taken at the Takahara Kiri-no-Sato Lodge, which features panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
After lunch you will continue east along river valleys and over passes toward the village of Hongu, where there is a set of isolated onsen (hot spring) villages.
Overnight at a Japanese inn (Ryokan) at Kawayu Onsen, a natural wonder, where hot spring water bubbles to the surface of the river (upgrade option to Fujiya Ryokan)
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
The morning features a 7 kilometre walk along the 1000 year old Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route with a diversity of mountain top villages, panoramic views, forested trails, and ancient cobblestones. A picnic lunch will be taken along the way, so that you can relax and enjoy cultural landscape. The goal of the walk is the austere grand shrine, Kumano Hongu Taisha.
The afternoon will take you down the beautiful Kumano-gawa river to the city of Shingu which opens onto the Pacific Ocean and the home of the second of the three Kumano grand shrines, Kumano Hayatama Taisha.
Further south down the coast is Katsuura, a small fishing village that is blessed with hot springs. You can enjoy some unique baths in the afternoon, maybe even one in a cave overlooking the ocean!
A short ferry ride will bring you to your accommodation for the night.
Overnight at Hotel Nakanoshima, located on an island in the bay which is famous for its fresh seafood.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
You will finish your Kumano pilgrimage by visiting the awe-inspiring Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan, and the Kumano Nachi Taisha, the last of the three Kumano grand shrines.
The Daimon-zaka is a wonderful section of the Kumano Kodo with an ancient stone staircase lined by massive old-growth trees.
After eating lunch near the Kii-Katsuura station at a small, quaint restaurant, you will board a train back to Osaka. Remember to sit on the left hand side to catch the beautiful views of the rocky coast.