For over 1,000 years, Japanese people from all walks of life, including retired emperors and aristocrats, have made the arduous pilgrimage of Wakayama. The Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that traverse the Kii Peninsula in southern Wakayama Prefecture. These sacred paths have become Created to serve as pilgrimage routes to enter the sacred Kumano Sanzan area, which includes the three great shrines of Kumano Hongū Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. In July 2004, the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes were established as part of the "" Holy places and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains "" added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are 4 main routes in total: The Nakahechi Route is the most popular route. From the 10th century onwards, the Nakahechi route was used extensively by the imperial family on pilgrimages from Kyoto. The Kohechi route connects the Buddhist temple complex of Koyasan and Kumano-Sanzan. Hikers should be well prepared if they want to take this route. The Ohechi Route offers picturesque views over the Pacific, while the Iseji Route features a variety of mountain passes, bamboo forests, terraced rice fields and beaches.
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.
The Kumano Nachi Taisha is a Shinto shrine and part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed holy sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains of Japan...
Nachi Waterfall (Nachi no Taki) in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, is one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan. With a drop of 133 meters, it is..
Kamikura Shrine (神倉神社, Kamikura Jinja) is related to the Hayatama Taisha Shrine and can be found on top of a hill of 538 stone steps, some as st..