The Kumano Kodō (熊野古道) is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the Kii peninsula, in southern Wakayama prefecture. These sacred trails were created to serve as pilgrimage routes to access the sacred Kumano Sanzan area, comprising the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano Hongū Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha.
Four main routes comprise the main Kumano Kodo network—which are still in use today—with several more significant trails to be found in the region.
Takijiri-oji shrine marks the beginning of the Nakahechi trail, one of several old pilgrimage trails that crisscross the Kii Peninsula. Takijiri-oji is considered to be the point where “the passage into the precincts of the sacred mountains begins.”Discover more
The Ohechi Route (大辺路) follows the 92 km southern coast trail around the Kii peninsula, from Tanabe to the west, around to Nachi Taisha.
The Kohechi Route (小辺路) is a 64 km trail connecting the Kumano Sanzan area to the Buddhist mountaintop temple complex of Koyasan to the north. Following rugged mountainous terrain, it is considered one of the most strenuous routes. This joins up with another sacred route, the 24 km Koyasan Choishimichi route which originates at Jison-in temple at the foot of Mount Koya, in the Kudoyama area of Wakayama.
Hike the ancient path of the gods, following the 170 km Iseji Route (伊勢路) which connects Kumano Sanzan to Japan's most sacred shrine of Ise to the east in Mie prefecture.
One of the three main Kumano Sankeimichi (熊野参詣道), the Kiji Route travels along the western coast of Wakayama (originating as far as Osaka/Kyoto), before splitting into two routes, the inland Nakahechi Route and the coastal Ohechi Route.
The 80 km Omine Okugake trail (大峯奥駈道) stems north past the Omine mountains to the Yoshino area's Kinpusenji temple – a sacred place for Shugendo. Photo: Indiana Jo /CC BY-SA 4.0
The Magose-Toge Pass is known for its beautiful stone path which has been maintained for multiple centuries.
Kumano Nachi Taisha is a Shinto shrine and part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range..
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