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Walking the World Heritage Sites of the Kumano Pilgrimage Trail

1night,2days Departure from Osaka

The Ancient Kumano Pilgrimage Trail, which is walked along by worshippers on the way to the Three Kumano Shrines (Hongu-taisha Shrine, Hayatama-taisha Shrine, and Nachi-taisha Shrine), is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second pilgrimage trail to be registered as a World Heritage site following the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Here is a course that takes you along the Ancient Kumano Pilgrimage Trail to visit the Three Kumano Shrines for two days.

  • 1night,2days

Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine, Kawayu-onsen Hot Spring

[Traveling]

Shin-Osaka -- <JR Limited Express150 mins.> -- Shirahama -- <70 mins. by bus> -- Hongu-taisha-mae -- [Oyunohara] -- [Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine] -- <10 mins. by bus> -- Kawayu-onsen -- [Kawayu-onsen Hot Spring]

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Oyunohara (former shrine of Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine)

It was built here five hundred meters from where most of the pavilions of the large shrine that stood were destroyed in the great flood disaster that struck in 1889. On the grounds is the largest shrine gateway in Japan, which is a power spot that attracts many people.

Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine

Upon passing through the gateway at the entrance of the shrine and climbing the one hundred and fifty-eight steps of the stairway, there are the alter and shrine gate on the spacious grounds. This is the large shrine that has the most magnificent atmosphere of the three Kumano Shrines.

Kawayu-onsen Hot Spring

In addition to the Yunomine-onsen Hot Spring, which is said to have been discovered over a thousand and eight hundred years ago, there are also the Kawayu-onsen Hot Spring and Watarase-onsen Hot Spring at the base of Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine. Kawayu-onsen is an interesting hot spring where the water at the bottom of the river bubbles up at over seventy degrees in temperature. When this hot water is mixed with the river water, the temperature becomes just right for bathing. A famous attraction here is visitors being able to dig up their own baths.

Yunomine-onsen Hot Spring, which still retains its old nostalgic atmosphere, has hot spring pools that reach ninety degrees in temperature and are used to boil food such as vegetables and eggs, which can be eaten. The natural "Tsuboyu" hot spring rock bath, which changes colors seven times a day, is a World Heritage site as it is part of the pilgrimage route.

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1st Day

Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine, Nachi-no-Otaki Falls

[Traveling]

Kawano-onsen -- <80 mins. by bus> -- Shingu -- <20 mins. by walk> -- [Kumano Hayatama-taisha] -- <20 mins. by walk> -- Shingu -- <15 mins. by walk> -- [Kamikura-jinja] -- <15 mins. by walk> -- Shingu -- <JR Kisei Line40 mins.> -- Nachi -- <15 mins. by bus> -- Daimonzaka -- <30 mins by walk> -- [Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine][ Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple][ Nachi-no-Otaki Falls] -- Taki-mae Bus Stop -- <25 mins. by bus> -- Kii-Katsuura -- <JR Limited Express240 mins.> -- Shin-Osaka

Kumano Hayatama-taisha Shrine

The vermilion-lacquered gateway is a brilliant sight to see. Hayatama-taisha Shrine has 1,204 ancient sacred treasures including national treasures, some of which are on display at the sacred treasures museum.

Kamikura-jinja Shrine

Worshippers must climb a steep stairway known as the "Kamakurazumi". It is so steep that it shocks who see it for the first time. The stairway has five hundred and thirty-eight steps and is said to have been donated in 1193 by the Shogun at the time, Minamoto no Yoritomo.

Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine

After climbing the stone-paved road, "Daimonzaka", which is surrounded by beautiful lines of Japanese cedar trees, you will reach Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine. It is easier to climb than the approaches of the other two large shrines. The flames of the huge Taimatsu torches weighing over 50 kilograms fill the approach during the fire festival that is held on July 14 every year.

Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple

This spot has a long history as a sacred site of the Kumano faith and was originally a major Shugendo training site involving the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism centering on the Nachi Falls. It was then divided into the Seiganto-ji Temple and Nachi-taisha Shrine at the beginning of the Meiji period. The shrine and temple are still located adjacently with many worshippers coming to pray at both.

Three-storied Pagoda

The bright red tower that stands between Nachi-taisha Shrine and Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple. The gold-colored rings at the roof of the tower look beautiful up against the green color of the surrounding hills and there are many people who take pictures of the tower with the Nachi-no-Otaki Falls in the background.

Nachi-no-Otaki Falls

At an overwhelming 133 meters tall, it boasts the highest drop of any single waterfall in Japan. This waterfall still remains the embodiment of the kami at Hiro-jinja Shrine and can be seen at the observation deck at the shrine.

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2nd Day

Related Information

JNTO Tourist Information