Visitors from Asia should definitely consider this 5-Day Osaka-Kumano-Wakayama area JR pass or this 7-day pass which covers a larger area. If you are planning to hike one or several trails of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage is an indispensable guidebook with detailed maps, altitude charts, and tips.
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I didn’t actually do the entire Kumano Kodo walk, but instead based myself in the area, staying at J-Hoppers Kumano Yunomine (see reviews / check prices), one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in, and busing or hiking to various spots to take in the temples and hot springs.
Different Routes of the Kumano Kodo Trek
Hiking the Kumano Kodo in Winter
How to Get a Taste of the Kumano Kodo Walk
For me, this was the perfect amount of hiking to get a good taste of the Kumano Kodo without spending multiple days slogging up and down the mountain trails. I can understand the appeal of doing the whole thing, but some of the hikers I talked to did confirm my suspicions that some of those days on the mountains did get a little tiresome and repetitive.
The Dainichi-goe route connects two of the most interesting spots on the Kumano Kodo: the hot spring village of Yunomine, and the Kumano Kongu Taisha shrine and enormous Torii gate at Hongu. The trail is quite lovely, and I loved the beautiful red Hinoki trees.
I had a very relaxing three days in Yunomine, doing the Dainichi-goe route and other day walks, then soaking in my hostel onsen at night. Next, I caught a bus to Shingu and Naichi to see the other two grand shrines. If you catch the early (6:30am) bus, you can easily see those two shrines and the Nachi waterfall in one morning, then either spend the night at Katsuura and enjoy more hot springs as I did, or catch the train to your next destination.
Getting to the Kumano Kodo Area
Kansai (Osaka) airport to Koyasan:
Koyasan to Kumano Kodo Area:
Hongu/Yunomine to Shingu and Nachi:
Getting to/from Ise
If you are planning to do the Kumano Kodo walk, I would urge you to consider doing it in winter! Trekkers on the Kumano Kodo in winter are rewarded with empty trails, soothing hot springs, and (if you are lucky) the chance to see it all under a blanket of snow!
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