Riding the Wideview Nanki Express

On the Train to Kumano: Option 2

By Alena Eckelmann    - 3 min read

Memorable train journeys immensely enrich a traveler’s experience. Riding a train is not just a question of getting from A to B but it is all part of the discovering of a foreign country.

Just sit back, relax and watch the landscape pass by while on the go to your next sightseeing spot. You will learn a lot about Japan from this passive sort of sightseeing.

Riding the JR Wideview Nanki Express from Nagoya to Shingu and then to the train’s terminal in Kii-Katsura, a well-known onsen resort in the Kumano area of Wakayama Prefecture, is such a journey where you will discover that not all of Japan is urban, built-up land yet.

The Kii Peninsula is the piece of land that sticks out of Japan’s Honshu Island in the south of Osaka. Three prefectures - Wakayama, Mie and Nara - share the space. While the northern part of the peninsula is part of the Osaka and Nagoya commuter belt, the southern part is almost entirely covered in mountains and much less inhabited.

Some tourists go on a day trip to see the temples in Nara or to the mountain monastery of Koya-san, which are both on the Kii Peninsula, but this is as far south on the peninsula as most foreigners will ever venture.

The distance between Nagoya and Shingu is 240km which is much shorter than the distance that you would need to travel to Shingu if you came from Kyoto or Osaka. Hence, if you make your way down to Kumano from Tokyo, then change trains in Nagoya. You will safe time and money.

As the train's name states, it is designed to give you an excellent view, and the best views are to be had in the first carriage as it has large windows. Travelling down from Nagoya, your best seat would be on the left side of the train for fine views of small beaches and bays along the coast of Mie Prefecture.

After the Wideview Nanki Express leaves the suburban sprawl of Nagoya behind, it passes through some fairly industrial towns in Mie Prefecture before reaching the Ise Peninsula where you can change trains at Tsu or at Matsusaka to make your way to the Ise Shingu, the Ise Grand Shrine.

The Wideview Nanki Express continues its journey along the coast of Mie Prefecture stopping at the towns of Owase and Kumano before reaching Shingu and Kii-Katsuura in Wakayama Prefecture.

Once you have reached Tsu, the scenery will change to a rural landscape. The mountains come closer and closer on one side and the sea will be right by the other side. In short, you will be travelling between mountains and the sea from then on all the way to Kii-Katsuura.

The JR Wideview Nanki Express does three roundtrips a day between Nagoya and Kii-Katsuura and one roundtrip between Nagoya and Shingu. The journey takes 3hr 30min.

Visitors to Japan who are in possession of a Japan Rail Pass have to pay a surcharge of yen 800, if they want to ride this train.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

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