A series of routes for a pilgrimage of sacred places registered as a World Heritage site

Area Characteristics

Kumano Kodo, which was registered in 2004 as part of a World Heritage site known as the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, is a generic term for a series of pilgrimage routes going to the Kumano Sanzan shrine complex of Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hatayama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. With a total length of over 600km, the Nakahechi road heading from Tanabe to Kumano Hongu, the Ohechi road going from Tanabe along the seashore toward Nachi and Shingu, and the Kohechi road heading from Mt. Koya to Kumano have all been registered as a World Heritage site on which countless worshipers have walked upon since ancient times. It is also very popular as a power spot.

Major Sites

Kumano Sanzan is accessible by car but you should walk there to get as much of the sacred atmosphere as possible. There are many walking courses to fit anyone from a beginner to a veteran hiker. The most popular course is the 6.9km distance from Hosshinmon-ōji to Kumano Hongu Taisha. Another recommended course has a distance of approximately 2.5km spanning between Daimonzaka which has an 800-year-old twinned cedar tree and Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls; it is great for beginners with the atmosphere of its mossy stone steps. There is an intermediate course which takes visitors from the bright vermilion Kumano Hatayama Taisha to Nachi Station.



The regional cuisine of Kumano includes meharizushi which is rice balls wrapped in pickled leaf mustard greens. In the Kumano Kodo area, there are many dishes which make use of local fresh vegetables, and along with roadside stations, there are also a number of restaurants and cafés that have been converted from old residences.



It will be a 4-hour trip by the Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Tokyo to Nagoya before heading down to Owase Station which is the closest to Kumano Kodo. You can then take a bus or car there; for the former, there is a periodic tour bus which goes around Kumano Sanzan. Taking a car may be more convenient depending on the walking time and distance so it’s good to check beforehand.



Since there is an onsen area right by Kumano Kodo, there are a number of ryokan and onsen hotels within walking distance. Along with a tour of the area, it would also be good to stay over in Katsuura or Shirahama.