Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails
The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail is a network of scenic walking trails in the verdant Kii Mountains of the Wakayama Prefecture. They are a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were developed hundreds of years ago as a way for pilgrims to pass between the different sacred areas found in this remote part of Japan. This area is considered by many to be Japan's spiritual heartland and today walking along the Kumano Kodo Trail is also a great way to get to know rural Japan. You will see people of all ages and all levels of Japanese society walking the trail and although few Westerners currently visit this region (which is part of its attraction!), it is easy to do on a self-guided basis with a little assistance from the excellent tourist information centre next to Kii-Tanabe Station.
The 3 night route that we recommend starts at Kii-Tanabe and includes traditional Ryokan stays in Kawayu Onsen, a little village on the banks of the Oto River, Yunomine Onsen, one of the oldest hot spring towns in Japan before finishing at the fishing port of Kii-Katsuura, with its frenetic early morning fish market.