Kumano Kodo

Kumano Kodo, Kinki: Address, Phone Number, Kumano Kodo Reviews: 4.5/5

Kumano Kodo
4.5
Points of Interest & Landmarks • Historic Walking Areas
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SullyDean
By SullyDean
Walk Japan 9 day guided Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage
Jun 2019
We took this tour a year ago for my 50th b’day (April 2019) - apologies for late review, however I really want to share our experience as we had an amazing time and feel the reason was that we booked through Walk Japan. From the moment we met up with our tour group, 7 in all, at a snug hotel in Osaka we were able to sit back and focus on the culture, history, religion, scenery & relevance of the Kumano Kodo, and leave the complexities of logistics and language barrier to our competent guide Josh. While some travelers thrive on conquering the difficulties of traveling in a foreign land, we would rather spend our well earned holidays enjoying ourselves without stressing over are we on the correct train line and are we heading in the right direction, or the like. And for us if any country has engendered those feelings its Japan. So for 9 days we walked parts of this pilgrimage and had an absolutely amazing experience - as accommodation and meals were all organized and we had our trusty guide at no point did we stress - and we stayed in some unique accommodation from a monastery (participating in the morning fire ceremony with monks), repurposed high schools (declining population), some huge 80’s hotel built into the side of a cliff like something out of a James Bond movie. We visited all the main temples on the pilgrimage and had our stamp book attended to (make sure you do this right from the start), all relevant historic and cultural points of importance and interest were pointed out and if possible we had time to wonder around (seriously if we had done this pilgrimage as an independent walk we would have missed so much and understood even less) - and to top it all off we were walking smack bang in the middle of the cherry blossom bloom - early April is the time to go it was just gorgeous : ) All in all we had the most brilliant time and Walk Japan took care of everything and at no time did we feel out of our depth - best 50th b’day you could wish for. Thanks Japan, and thanks Walk Japan XXX

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
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CAwanderer
Los Angeles, CA89 contributions
Oct 2019
2-5 days hike depending on your chosen end. Rewarding despite landing in Osaka in October a day before the typhoon. Hagabis landed on the next peninsula, luckily for me. The trails were a bit wet, but with the exception of 2 steep sections fairly easy forested hills trails. Most difficult was actually the first kilometer, 40 minutes straight up. Never walked a km that slow... I think those evil monks designed it that way ("if you can't make this, go home!" ;-)
No need to take a tour. The Tanabe city website tb-kumano has all the information including free maps and a local accommodation service. Book your accommodation early, as some of the mountain villages are tiny. AirBnB lists some as well.
The whole Kii peninsula is interesting, with the oldest capitals of Japan, sakuras of Mt. Yoshino, onsens (hot mineral baths) from Tanabe to Shingu, Katsuura tuna fishing harbor... Early October is too early for fall colors here or in Kyoto :(
Written February 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mptr2903
Sydney, Australia4 contributions
Apr 2017 • Couples
We organised (from Australia) the entire package of our experiencing of & walking the Kumano Kodo (April) with the Kumano Kodo Tourism Bureau (tb.kumano-jp).
After researching multiple other tour operators, we found this local team to be exceedingly knowledgeable, cooperative & responsive.
The website is so very extensive and surprisingly, very user-friendly.
As well, the maps, the accommodations, the luggage transfers are all of top class and operation. We cannot recommend them highly enough.
All of the accommodation hosts were very helpful.
Spend a while in each place - don't be in a hurry - stay extra nights and soak up some of the places (Hongu, Shingu, Koyasan) - besides the walk, the experience of the locals is wonderful.
Written November 10, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

debiddo
Oxford, UK53 contributions
Jun 2016 • Solo
I had never heard of the Kumano Kodo, but I knew I would be in Osaka for a business trip and was looking for a bit of a walking holiday after. Once I did my research, I planned the trip myself and booked accommodation to see me through: a stay in Kii-Tanabe so I could start the walk early the next day, a stay near Tsugizakura, a stay in Yunomine Onsen, then Koguchi, and finally Nachi Taisha. With everything booked I prepared what to take with me. June is the start of the rainy season, meaning high humidity and lots of rain, not the best season for doing the Kumano pilgrimage. I invested in lightweight, breathable, rainproof clothing and a bag. All ready, all I need to do now is do the walk.
I knew my knees were not good, since I suffered ITB pain on other lesser walks. So I did my best to strengthen my glutes and stretch, stretch, stretch.
The weather held out on the first 3 days, but the 4th day was torrential rain. But this did nothing to dampen my spirits. Every day was a collection of achievements, fantastic views, interaction with nature, and beautiful Japanese accommodation and food. I felt so fortunate to have this opportunity to walk the Kumano Kodo.
I hardly met anyone during the walk (I passed a group of 4 on the first day, and a single girl on the second day), but met some people staying at the same accommodations, which was great to be able to share the experiences.
My knees held out too, mostly thanks to wearing Velcro straps just above my knees, but the walking poles were invaluable.
The 5th day was a short walk and a train ride to get to the last shrine of the Kumano Sanzan.
I could have written so much more here, but I would say every moment was special , and I would recommend this trek to everyone. A certain level of fitness is required, but I met a Japanese lady who was doing the walk in sections of 1-2 days at a time... she was on her 25th visit, and she was 73 years old.
Written June 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Neil D
460 contributions
Apr 2020 • Solo
Looking at this from a walking perspective, not taking into account it's history and the religious relevance that cannot be argued, it's prety boring.
Takijiri to Hongu walks through timber plantations, all tall cedars in lines, no minimal undergrowth (because of the darkness). No wildlife, in two days I saw 3 birds and a bum of a furry thing. Over this walk as I said your in a tunnel, one a few occasions (which I can count on one hand) there was a viewpoint to see the beautiful hills. Some sections are roads, other sections have the road within a few feet so you do not feel like your in the Japanese countryside.
The villages are very nice, an hour walking around would be plenty of time to see everything and do your shopping.
Do this walk for the history now the views.
Written April 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

susanjeff
Melbourne, Australia101 contributions
May 2015 • Friends
The ‘Kumano Kodo’ offers some great walking experiences, but is a very fragmented offering with no one iconic declared route to rival the English Coast-to-Coast or Scotland’s West Highland Way/Great Glen Way.

Maps are somewhat confusing and not clearly linked. Kumano Travel has done a good job on the southern routes and with accommodation bookings. Some of the global walking companies run shorter 'micky-mouse' walks. It needs the national Japan tourist office to step up to the mark, declare and strongly market the ‘Great Kumano Kodo Walk’.

My suggestion for this walk is as follows: I have just completed this route with two friends and it was a great experience. I am happy to share my notes (jefffloydy@gmail.com).

Day 1 Bus from Ki-Tanabe to Takijiri-oji (90 minutes) (start of Nakahechi Trail), then walk to Tsugizakura-oji.
Day 2 Tsugizakura-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha (Hongu).
Day 3 Bus from Hongu to Hiraiwa-guchi 15 minutes (start of Kohechi Trail), then walk to Totsukawa.
Day 4 Totsukawa to Miura-guchi
Day 5 Miura-guchi to Omata
Day 6 Omata to Koyasan
Day 7 Rest day in Koyasan
Day 8 Koyasan to Kudoyama Rail station (Choishi Michi Trail), then train to Osaka

The days range from 17k to 24K, so not long but there are some significant climbs to negotiate. It is well within the capabilities of a seasoned walker of reasonable fitness, but you need to carry your gear as there appears to be no baggage transport service, from Day 3 on. So the key message is buy a good lightweight pack 38-40 litre capacity and PACK LIGHT.

Kumano Travel do not offer an accommodation planning/booking service but you can book your accommodation through the website http://www.kumano-travel.com/index/en/action_Default_Index. The website is a bit clunky but not too bad, check your bookings carefully and you need to book 9 months out.

Maps are available at http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/maps/. My suggested route requires using the maps as follows: Map A, Map B, Map C, Map D, Map I, Map J (Maps I and J are followed south-north). Last day Choishi Michi (Stupa) map is at http://eng.shukubo.net/upfile/stupa-route.pdf

Other town maps are at http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/q-and-a/maps_pamphlets/.
Written May 7, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

JeanPerth
Albany, Australia6,302 contributions
Oct 2017 • Friends
This is my third time to to the area. First time was solo and wanted to check out the area and do a short walk to see what I thought. Given my positive reports, my husband and I did most (though not the final day) of the trail in early December 2015. Ideal hiking weather-no rain and not too hot or cold. We found it challenging but doable.
So this year we arranged for 5 friends who are keen walkers to join us on this Pilgrimage Trail. As in previous visits, I arranged accommodation and luggage transfers through the wonderful people at the Tanabe Tourism Office. Yes, you need to pay up front but I have had no problem when cancelling or changing bookings. It's actually rather nice not to have to worry about payments when walking1
There is a comprehensive web site that is worth spending many hours to get your head around the walk. The maps and walking times have been updated and theres sample itineraries as well.
There's a range of options from a fairly easy half day walk through to the whole Pilgrimage trail. Generally there are areas to catch a bus to reduce the walk. We are fairly fit 60 year olds and found the walk challenging-especially all the ups and downs for me.Our hiking friends found it enough of a challenge but having done many long distance trails were less exhausted than I was.
Whilst there's a bit of sameness of the forest, you do have enjoy little hamlets and agriculture to make it interesting. The trail is very well marked so you won't feel lost.
I would highly recommend walking poles as theres stone sections which can get tricky in the wet plus good walking shoes.Last time we carried substantial back packs but this time had luggage transfers- not expensive.

Accommodation is excellent, although not a lot available so unless you are going off season you need to book. It's a pity as you are locked in and sometimes it would be good to have two nights somewhere.

On this trip I had wanted to tackle the final leg from Koguchi to Nachi but not to be. A typhoon then a tropical storm closed that section when we intended to walk it. Aah well. Instead we caught to bus to Nachi and explored a bit in the torrential rain. It would be a really long day to walk from Koguchi and then explore Nachi and walk the special cedar forest steps down to the bus stop.
Written November 15, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Gaby Motuloh
Jakarta, Indonesia7,701 contributions
Oct 2017 • Couples
The Kumano Kodo ancient pilgrimage involves many interconnected trails in Kii Mountain Range of Wakayama Prefecture.
The great thing about it is that you don't have to be experienced trekkers or commit a great number of days to have a taste of this World Heritage sacred trail (only 2 in the World, the other one is in Spain) which has been in operation for over 1000 years.
With a great infrastructure of roads, transportation, accommodation, information and the naturally helpful and friendly Japanese, we can experience Kumano Kodo the way we want it, even when we don't understand Japanese at all.
The trails are well marked. We can get maps and brochures from visitor centres, bus and trains schedules were easy to access, luggage storage and delivery service, lots of Japanese style lodges (minshuku/ryokan) along the way with tasty food, hot springs, small villages, beautiful mountain with tranquil forests, all and more make Kumano Kodo one of a kind trail in the world.
To plan your trip, you can also look at the difficulty ratings assigned for the trails in Kumano Kodo website and book accommodation online through Kumano Travel or others.
We chose the most popular Nakahechi route starting from Tanabe (by JR train from Tokyo) and end in Shingu (with a day trip to Nachi) combining train, bus and walking. For the walk, we took the easier ones (1.5 - 2 out of 5): Chikatsuyu to Nonaka, Hosshinmon oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha and the Daimonzaka Slopeo and visited all the three grand shrines.
We were very glad we did it. It's the highlight of the numerous trips we have done to and in Japan.
Written November 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sashazur
Salem, OR123 contributions
May 2014 • Couples
We did this walk in late May 2014, as a self-guided package from Oku Japan (part of Oxalis Holidays, a UK company). The trip totaled about 37 miles of walking in 5 days.

I would say the hiking effort was fairly strenuous - most days had a big climb and then an equally steep descent, often on tumbled-down old stone stairs through forests. We both are experienced hikers and we both agreed that this hike included some of the toughest days of hiking either of us have experienced!

Oku booked us into local inns - basic accomodations (futon on the floor, shared baths) with excellent Japanese food (dinner & breakfast included).

We were happy with the package that Oku put together - a detailed itinerary and lots of helpful info were included, but there are a few things that they didn't communicate really clearly up front:

- Nearly every day included a trip on a bus and/or a train or more than one - usually pretty short (maybe half an hour or an hour max). Where possible, Oku provided tickets and reserved seats ahead of time.

- Oku's packages don't include moving your luggage, so either you need to carry all your stuff with you (some people did - it's 5 days and you only need to mainly carry clothes), or you need to have your luggage sent ahead and rendesvous with it every 2-3 days. We did that and it worked fine - we used the Takkyubin service which is somewhat like Fedex only cheaper.

- Oku required us to have trip insurance, but their requirements weren't initially too clear. It turned out you MUST have insurance that will cover medical and emergency medical evacuation in Japan. We found one online for under $200 that Oku accepted.

- Oku gave us a choice between regular or extra-fancy lodgings. We chose the higher-level option, but with hindsight it really wasn't worthwhile - most towns you walk through and stay in overnight only offer a few inns, of similar quality, and Oku seems to have one or two in each place that they always use for everyone. The only places where we clearly got the higher-level lodging were hotels in Osaka and Kyoto at the start of each trip.

We only knew a couple dozen words of Japanese between us, and the idea of taking Japanese buses and trains and dealing with Japanese inns for transporting luggage all seemed intimidating, but everything turned out to be fairly easy.

Overall it was a great trip!

Link to photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sashazur/sets/72157645031946025/
Written June 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

tav_mind
Canberra392 contributions
Apr 2013 • Couples
Over 6 days (with a rest day at Yunomoine Onsen) we walked the Kohechi route of the Kumano Kodo trail from Koyasan to Nachisan. It seems that many people are scared off this trail because it is tough - walking for 7 to 8 hours each day over high passes with steep ups and downs. But would we do it again? You bet! For people with good fitness and wlaking experience this is very do-able. We are a 66 year old couple and we came out smiling. We loved the small villages and minshuku that we could stay in along the way. We had great spring weather - just a bit of snow on the north side of some passes, but this just added to the great experience.
Written April 20, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vicki T
Sydney, Australia250 contributions
Oct 2018 • Couples
We enjoyed this walk in October - from Kii Tanabe (Takijiri-oji) to Kii Katsura (Nachi Taisha) over 6 days. The walking was strenuous but enjoyable - the first day was arguably the hardest in spite of the major Dogiri-zaka climb on day 6. However, we made the mistake of booking the walk through RAW travel in Australia not knowing that they merely outsource the booking to Kumano Travel locally and charge an inflated price accordingly. We booked in August, 2 months before the trip not knowing that this busy time of the year meant we'd get the worst of the accomodation. We felt that paying a premium with RAW, we should've at least been advised of this especially as the accomodation includes food so it was a double blow. We met many people on the track who booked directly with Kumano and had far better accomodation. RAW added absolutely no value to our trip and was a total waste of the extra expense. Having done the Mont Blanc guided trip with RAW and Everest Base Camp guided with Intrepid, this was hands down very poor value indeed. The track is very well sign posted and Kumano travel provided all the services so it's very easy to do self guided. I gave this feedback to RAW and have told them that, based on the experience, we'd never use RAW again and certainly don't recommend RAW for the Kumano.
Written December 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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