In the footsteps of Emperors along the wonderful Nakahechi route

Kumano Kodo self-guided walking 5 days The Kii Peninsula points south away from the great cities of Kyoto and Osaka, and is one of the most remote and mystical areas of Japan, despite its proximity. Long a place of pilgrimage, it is the site of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan). From the 11th century successive emperors and their families made the long and difficult pilgrimage to Kumano from Kyoto. Several pilgrimage trails were established, and amongst them the Nakahechi-do, Kohechi-do and Ohechi-do, collectively known as the Kumano kodo (Old road of Kumano). Our walk focuses on part of the Nakahechi-do, which weaves its way through the forested mountains and small villages to the Grand Shrine of Hongu. You then transfer by bus and train to the Nachi Grand Shrine.

The walking is mostly paved village paths and unpaved mountains trails, with considerable ascent and descent on certain days. Though not 'technical', you will be need to be fit and well-prepared with adequate gear and clothing. This walk is highly customisable; there are 4 Days of walking ranging from 2 to 7 hours, and we can advise on which days to leave out if you want a shorter or more gentle walk.
We also offer 4-day, 5-day, 9-day and 11-day versions of this trip.

Price : Adult (age 12+)
Price : Adult (age 12+) AUD1,725
Duration : 5 nights 6 Days
Tour Start : Kyoto or Osaka
Tour End : Kyoto or Osaka
Walking days : 5 days
Departure Date : Daily (All Year)
Route : Kyoto or Osaka ⇒ Takijiri ⇒ Takahara ⇒ Chikatsuyu ⇒ Hongu ⇒ Yunomine Onsen ⇒ Koguchi ⇒ Nachi-san ⇒ Katsuura ⇒ Kyoto or Osaka
Includes : 5 nights accommodation, 5 Breakfasts and 5 Dinners, Train tickets (from / to Kyoto or Osaka), Detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions, Topographical map, Local phone support
Download : PDF Itinerary
DayEvent / Visit
From Kyoto or Osaka; Kumano Kodo Trail from Takijiri to Takahara

Walking distance : 4.5km
Elevation gain : 370m
Time required : About 2 hours

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 hotel in the tiny village of Takahara, or in a Japanese Minshuku in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. Both options serve good, home-cooked dinners featuring local seasonal ingredients. The small Japanese-style hotel in Takahara has both Japanese and western-style rooms, all with wonderful views over the valley and mountains.

Meals : Dinner
Hotel : Takahara
Kumano Kodo Trail from Takahara to Chikatsuyu

Walking distance : 10km
Elevation gain : 480m of ascent and 520m of descent
Time required : About 4-5 hours

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 Minshuku guest-house.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Chikatsuyu
Kumano Kodo Trail from Chikatsuyu to Hongu

Walking distance : 24km
Elevation gain : 820m of ascent and 1,140m of descent
Time required : About 8-9 hours (requiring an early start!) *

From Chikatsuyu, the trail continues through the mountains. Board a bus in Chikatsuyu today and then walk a gentle section of the trail from Hosshinmon-oji to the Kumano shrine at Hongu, one of the three 'Grand Shrines of Kumano'. 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 the Kumano shrine at 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.

* We offer two shorter alternatives of 7 hours (15km) or of 2 hours (7km), 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!

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Yunomine Onsen
Kumano Kodo Trail from Ukegawa to Koguchi

Walking distance : 12.4km
Elevation gain : 520m of ascent and 500m of descent
Time required : About 4 hours

Before or after breakfast, take time to explore the atmospheric village where you spent the night. Today's journey 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 today’s hike should take you about 4 hours. A warm welcome and good food await you at a tiny inn run by a charming retired couple, or alternatively at the engaging lodge created from a former school building. Explore along the river and have a swim if the weather is warm.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Koguchi
Kumano Kodo Trail from Koguchi to Nachi-san

Walking distance : 15.1km
Elevation gain : 980m of ascent and 920m of descent
Time required : About 6-7 hours

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 Nachi-san, the location of Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano and Nachi-taki waterfall. Stay overnight either in the small village of Nachi-san 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.

Meals : Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel : Katsuura
Kii-Katsuura and onwards to Osaka or Kyoto

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. 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
Hotel : N/A

Most of our accommodation is Japanese style guest house and they are share bathroom.

Takahara Takahara Room Takahara Bath

※ Example images, actual hotels may vary.

DayCityHotel NameHotel Type
1 Takahara Kiri-no-sato Takahara Japanese-style Hotel
2 Chikatsuyu Minshuku Chikatsuyu Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
3 Yunomine Yoshinoya Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
4 Koguchi Momofuku Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
5 Katsuura Hotel Nakanoshima Japanese-style Onsen Hotel
Tour Operator : Oxalis Holidays Limited
Hotels : 5 nights Japanese-style Rooms
Meal : 5 Breakfasts, 5 Dinners
Participants : Minimum 1
Single Room Supplement : AUD550
Type and level of walking : Strenuous - Our Strenuous tours generally have multiple dedicated days of trail walking, with some days of up to six hours or more and significant ascent and/or descent.
Walking Season : All year (the region may occasionally experience snow from December to March)
Departures : Any day Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December to 04 January), Golden Week (29 April - 05 May), and O-bon (09 - 17 August). Please enquire for availability and pricing if your trip falls within those dates.
International Flight : We offer the option of purchasing air inclusive tour packages, or land only tour packages, giving our customers the freedom to source their own flights. However, we are always more than happy to arrange your flights.
Optional extra days : We can arrange extra days at the beginning or end of the trip in the following destinations :

A lovely town south of Nara with some of Japan's earliest Buddhist temples, as well as kofun burial mounds from the 5th century. Asuka is a lovely town to explore on foot or why not rent a bicycle from the train station and explore at a relaxed pace? We will arrange a night at one of the small minshuku in the town.

Mount Koya
This atmospheric temple complex south of Kyoto is home to around 100 temples and shukubo (pilgrim's lodging). Founded by the monk Kobo Daishi in the 10th century, Mount Koya is the spiritual centre of Shongon (True word) Buddhism, and he is enshrined at Oku-no-in. Located at 800 metres altitude in the Wakayama mountains, you reach Mount Koya via the scenic Nankai railway. There are many optional local walks.

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