Japan 2019

Kumano Kodo

The pilgrimage routes to the Kumano Sanzan, the three Grand Shrines (Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine, Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, and Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine) placed in the isolated and sacred mountains of the Kii Peninsula, are collectively known as the Kumano Kodo.

The Kumano Kodo consists of six pilgrimage routes, of which I plan to walk three; the Iseji route, which leads from Ise-Jingu shrine in Ise to the Kumano Sanzan; the Nakahechi route, which extends east from Tanabe City and the Kohechi route, which connects Koyasan to Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine in Shingu.

I walked a total of 509km, from leaving Osaka airport, until I again set foot in the airport to return home, 3 weeks later. I walked 11,3 verticle kms – as I recall Mt. Everest is 8,8 verticle kms – and I estimate that I was walking upwards for somewhere between 170 and 180km.

Just as 12 months previously, I documented my journey via this blog. I did this whilst on the road in Japan. The Kii-peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Introduction to the Kumano Kodo

Background and information

The Kumano Kodo consists of six pilgrimage routes in and around the Kii Peninsula connevting and bringing people to the Kumano Sanzan, the three Grand Shrines of Kumano.

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Kumano Kodo

Walking in the Kii Peninsula

From Kii-Tanabe to Koyasan, from Hongu to Shingu and Ise to Shingu, follow my journey walking historic paths and visiting four of japans Grand Shrines.

Follow my day-by-day account via the blog I wrote whilst walking, and experience with me, what a fantatstic place the Kii peninsula is, with beautiful landscapes, fantastic temples and amazing people and hospitality.

Returning to Japan – 2019 April 4, 2019 On April 7th 2018, almost exactly a year ago, I started on an experience for life - visiting 88 temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku. It was a fantastic experience - seeing a different side of Japan, a rural side, far different from the mega cities I had previously visited. A fantastic scenery, both… Read more >
Day 0 – Copenhagen – Kii Tanabe April 24, 2019 As I write the first part og this post, I’m back in Japan, in fact at Wakayama station which was my base when I visited the Kii peninsula last year. The trip has been smooth. Yesterday I packed in the morning, and Lene dropped me at the nearest metro station. The flight to Helsinki left… Read more >
Day 1: Kii-Tanabe to Tsugizakura April 25, 2019 It rained heavily all evening and into the night, so it was going to be humid today - and it was. I had set my alarm for 6.30, in time for breakfast at 7.00 and the bus at 8.02 - the girl in the tourist office had been very specific that  it was 8.02, after… Read more >
Day 2: Tsugizakura to Hongu April 26, 2019 I slept well, woken by the rain and coughing in the neighbouring room - the walls are very thin! I was up at 6.30 and there was yet another feast for breakfast, where the chef has combined a European breakfast and Japanese breakfast, served in the Japanese way. After paying for the beer I had… Read more >
Day 3: Hongu to Totsukawa Onsen April 27, 2019 After two days on the Nakahechi route, to which I will return later, I am now walking north along the Kohechi route. The Kohechi route was established in the 13th century as a trade and pilgrimage route, joining Koyasan and Hongu. As such the route is “only” ca.70 km long, but it crosses over four… Read more >
Day 4: Totsukawa to Miura-guchi April 28, 2019 Another long walk. Today was ca. 20 km on the route, and 3 more due to the place I am staying being a couple of kms off the track. The day started with breakfast at the hotel, western style, still with a Japanese touch, but egg and bacon as well as ham, salad, yoghurt and… Read more >
Day 5: Miura-guchi to Omata April 29, 2019 After forgetting the picture of dinner, here is what was served for breakfast. After goodbyes and paying for the two (large) glasses of sake consumed for dinner, the owner drove us to the Minshuku where the rest of the group from Estonia were staying. As I was also about to get out, but the driver… Read more >
Day 6: Omata to Koyasan April 30, 2019 I ended my post yesterday mentioning I would be walking in rain today. Well apart from 3 minutes drizzle, it was a pleasant walk in dry weather. It has however rained off and on since I arrived in Koyasan at 13.30, but not to heavily. Last time I was here it absolutely poured, so this… Read more >
Day 7: Koyasan to Hashimoto May 2, 2019 Today I started the day by making a wrong decision. Going back a year, I was in Koyasan and had planned to walk the Choisi-michi trail between Kudoyama and Koyasan. However, I abandoned the idea due to torrential rain. So I planned to do it today instead. Unfortunately the weather report mentioned rain, so last night I… Read more >
Day 8: Hashimoto to Hongu May 2, 2019 Today was a transport and rest day. I slept well and was up at 7.30 and on the road by 8.45 after a standard hotel breakfast. I walked the 20 mins to the station, stopped off at the baker to buy some lunch and took the 9.30 train from Hashimoto, for four stops to Gojo.… Read more >
Day 9: Hongu to Koguchi May 3, 2019 Today was a really short hike, 13 km plus a couple more to get to the trail head at Ukegawa. Despite todays highest point being 466m, elevation gain only 670m and loss 690m, my legs just didn’t want to walk today, so it felt like hard work. I’d ordered breakfast for 7.00 as I was… Read more >
Day 10: Koguchi to Nachi May 4, 2019 I know it wasn’t the food they serve here; it could be the good nights sleep; or it could be the Pocari Sweat I wrote about yesterday. Whatever it was, my legs were in fine form today. People were already up at 5.30. As one is not allowed to wear your outdoor shoes indoors, one… Read more >
Day 11: Ise May 6, 2019 Today was tourist day. Whilst it’s fine being alone when walking, being a tourist is more fun when you have somebody to share it with. But it has been an interesting day in bright sunshine. The motive on man hole cover symbolises my first stop today. I was up at seven to be in plenty… Read more >
Day 12: Ise to Tochihara May 6, 2019 Now I remember why I enjoyed walking on Shikoku, because the landscape is varied, not just forest. I walked 28 km, and not least when I came to the outscirts of Ise, the scenery was fantastic. Empty roads. I was up at 7 o’clock, breakfasted and finished yesterday’s blog - I fell asleep before I… Read more >
Day 13: Tochihara to Ise-Kashiwazaki May 7, 2019 Yesterday I realised that walking through small villages and varied scenery was why I loved Shikoku last year. Today I remembered why I took buses and trains on long stretches of main roads. Most of the first 13 kms today were along route 42, with nice views of the mountains, but otherwise just cars and… Read more >
Day 14: Ise-Kashiwazaki to Furusato May 8, 2019 I had a great nights sleep. I’d already dozed of at 21.30 and despite waking up to change the side I was lying on, I slept until 6.30. The futon mattress is so thin, my hips hurt after lying on one side for a few hours. The female owner of the Ryokan served breakfast. She… Read more >
Day 15: Furusato to Owase May 10, 2019 For the third time during the trip I didn’t need to carry my backpack today, as I return to the Royokan I stayed last night. I haven’t at any time felt that the backpack has been a burden, and I didn’t walk any quicker because I was only carrying a day pack. I started the… Read more >
Day 16: Owase to Kata May 10, 2019 I’m writing this feeling very sorry for myself. After a hard day I was looking forward to having a bath. I was sitting on at the station and the train pulled up, a bit early, but sometimes they need to wait for a train coming in the opposite direction, the train was on platform one,… Read more >
Day 17: Kata to Odomari May 12, 2019 It’s Saturday night and I am sitting in the hotel’s launderette, washing clothes for hopefully the last time on this trip. Today was supposed to be a quiet day, but I obviously hadn’t read the trail details, I walked over 8 passes and climbed 1130m. I woke up at 6.30, feeling that I hadn’t slept.… Read more >
Day 18: Odomari to Shingu May 13, 2019 Sunday was the last leg of my walk, from Odomari, where I have slept the past two nights, to Shingu, more specifically the third of the grand shrines of Kumano, the Kumano Hayatama Taisha (the two others being Nachi Taisha and Hongu Taisha, which I visited earlier during my walk. I am writing this Monday… Read more >
Day 19: Kii- Katsuura and Shingu May 14, 2019 I was up early as I wanted to visit the fish auction at 7am. It was beautiful weather as I strolled over to the port and to the visitors section on the second floor. I have absolutely no idea how it works, but fish were inspected carefully, by cutting into the fish near the tail… Read more >
Day 20: Kii-Katsuura to Wakayama May 15, 2019 Today was travel and rain day. The hotel served yet another great meal for breakfast. I cannot recommend the food enough, it really is excellent, but why ketchup on the omelette. I paid my dues at the hotel and walked to the station through the streets that almost feel like home. I really like Kii-Katsuura,… Read more >
Day 21:Wakayama May 15, 2019 I woke up to a beautiful morning, already 20 degrees. The hotel had yoghurt and musli, so given the chance, I passed on Japanese breakfast. My plan today was to visit the Modern Art Gallery and the Prefectural Museum. I took the bus to the castle and walked through the castle grounds to the museum.… Read more >
Japan 2019: Conclusion May 17, 2019 This years trip was my second walking trip in Japan and in many ways different from last years trip to Shikoku. The three main differences were the following. Firstly, I carried a pack this time instead of the hub and spoke system I used when walking in Shikoku, which enabled me to walk with a… Read more >

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