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Blood or Dew

Chikatsuyu on the Kumano Kodo

Heading towards Kumano Hongu Taisha on the Nakahechi trail of the Kumano Kodo, the young Fujiwara emperor Kazan stops to eat lunch. He breaks off some nearby reed to use as rudimentary chopsticks. As a viscous red fluid dribbles from the bottom of the plant, he ponders, “Is this blood (chi) or (ka) is this dew (tsuyu)?” Chikatsuyu: blood or dew.

The modern town has an intimate relationship with the history of the Kumano Kodo. At its heyday, it provided accommodation for up to 300 pilgrims at a time, as well as containing the important Kumano subsidiary shrine, Chikatsuyu-oji. Today, it still offers walkers rest and accommodation. Those who spend a night here should explore the small settlement and appreciate what it has to offer. Many pass through with little thought to it, but it is a stunningly photogenic village, with friendly inhabitants, a small museum, and an extensive cultural history.

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