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

Founder of Kii Monogatari, my story and the story of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Originally from East Germany, I came to Tokyo, via Berlin and London, in 2005. In summer 2011 I moved by choice to remote Kumano in the south of the Kii Peninsula where I live, work and play now, and explore every day.The whole of the Kii Peninsula is a Healing Hub for me with its abundance of forest, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, the ocean, friendly rural communities and sacred places. This is where nature meets spirituality, and tradition meets sustainability, the new paradigm for travel post-pandemic. My deep interest is in Japanese nature & spirituality. I love being in nature, in the forest and in the mountains, and I love spending time at temples and shrines.  I am building my life and my work around these two passions. I am a Licensed Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy) Guide and a Licensed Kumano Kodo and Koyasan Guide. I am also a Licensed Retreat Facilitator and I am planning retreats on the Kii Peninsula. Last but not least, I have been the Japan Travel Partner for Wakayama and Yamagata since the conception of the platform in 2011! These two prefectures are close to my heart because they are the centers of Shugendo, a spiritual tradition of mountain ascetism. I am a Shugendo Practitioner for over ten years now and received Tokudo in 2016 at a Shugendo temple on Yoshinoyama. Please kindly connect via my Facebook Page Kii Monogatari. Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

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