At the Hatenashi pass, Hatenashi mountain meets the Kohechi path, literally meaning the "little path". Located more than 1,000 meters above sea level in the city of Totsukawa, the Kohechi path is one of five pilgrimage routes which constitute the Kumano Kodo. It is naturally the shortest path of the great routes, even though it still spans over 70 kilometers. For reference, other paths are up to 160 km in length.
Kumano Kodo stands out as a rare pilgrimage route and in 2004 gained Unesco World Heritage status. The path integrates the sacred sites and pilgrimage routes of the Kii Mountain Range.
The vast network of mountain paths extends between the prefectures of Wakayama, Nara and Mie in the Kii Peninsula. The Kii Mountains were once the home of the gods, making these paths, a natural worship place, well trodden since the Heian period (794-1192). The 72 kilometers that make up the "little path" connects a series of extraordinary panoramas and two major sacred sites: Koyasan, a Buddhist complex of 117 temples and the Kumano Hongu-Taisha, one of the three major shrines in Kumano, the Tanabe city.
By following the Kohechi path, you will delve into the heart of a dense forest where the mists flows between the infinite tree trunks adding a mystical aura to your pilgrimage. After crossing the red suspension bridge near the Miura-toge pass, the Kohechi road becomes even more mystical and the fog can be quite thick. During rainy weather travelers should take care not to fall as the paved path can become a bit slippery. On the way, a giant sequoia with a distinct twisted trunk seems to be the master of the forest by its imposing presence.
To accompany you during your long journey, many stone Kannon statues line the route. These statues, numbering 33, are all different forms of the Japanese deity Kannon. You will also come across inns, intended to accommodate the pilgrims, and occasional ancestral homes which are often unoccupied. Despite the reputation of the path as a famous pilgramage, chance encounters and meetings are rare. The journey will more likely be a long walk with plenty of time for thought and reflection.