For more than 1,000 years people from all levels of society have made the pilgrimage along the Kumano Kodo. The walk itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process as they undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification along the way. The goal of the pilgrimage was simple: to visit and pay respects at the Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha, and the Nachi Taisha (also known as the Kumano Sanzan). The origins of the Kumano Pilgrimage were a combination of Buddhism, Shinto, Shinto mythology, and nature worship causing the performance of the pilgrimage to be quite complex.
The foundations of the pilgrimage were established 1,000 years ago when retired emperors and aristocrats from Kyoto’s Imperial Court started making the 600 mile (800 kilometer) journey in large numbers. Today, walking the ancient Kumano Kodo is an excellent way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano’s spiritual countryside. We will follow in the footsteps of those ancient pilgrims from Kyoto as we trace the history and heritage of the Kumano pilgrimage.
Join us as we trek for 5 days (38.2 miles/61.8 km) along the Nakahechi Pilgrimage Trail through beautiful forests, rural villages, and ancient sites of religious worship and rituals. You will also enjoy some of the best hospitality and food from the small minshuku and ryokans along the Nakahechi, as well as some of Japan’s best onsens.
Full-Time Support Vehicle
Our Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Experience includes the services of a full-time support vehicle for the entire tour. The group will be driven from Kyoto to Takajiri (the starting point of the walk). At the end of the tour, the support vehicle will be used to return to Kyoto.
During the tour, after the group checks out and begins their walk, the support vehicle will move the main luggage to the next lodging. And the support vehicle will also meet the group where the roads intersect with the trail, and can carry items such as lunch and extra water.
This offers the best of both worlds, allowing the group to walk with only what they will need for that day, and still have access to their main luggage every evening and access to items they may need during the day. The support vehicle can also be used in the event of bad weather, injuries or in the event that someone in the group is unable to continue the walk for whatever reason. The support vehicle can be used to reduce the amount of walking by at leat 50%, or it can even be used to bypass an entire day’s walk if needed.
What This Tour Is and Is Not
This tour is a trekking tour. The tour will start at the Takijiri Oji and finish at the Nachi Taisha along the Nakahechi Pilgrimage route through the center of the Kii Peninsula in the Wakayama Prefecture. This will be done in 5 days of walking ranging from about 2 1/2 miles (4 km) to 11 miles (16 km). There are numerous mountain passes, but none of them are very high (they are all less than 3,000 feet or 1000 meters).
Your main luggage will be sent ahead each day allowing you to walk with only what you will need for that day’s walk.
Because this tour uses smaller minshuku and ryokan, some of the accommodations do not have attached, en-suite bathroom facilities. Here is a breakdown of the number of nights with private and shared bathroom facilities:
- 4 nights – Private attached bath and toilet
- 3 nights – Private attached toilet and shared bath
- 2 nights – Shared bath and toilet