OVERVIEW

Kumano's sacred mountains have been a significant pilgrimage destination for imperial and aristocratic families since 794AD. The Kumano Kodo traverses the sacred Kii mountains, via lush forest and villages, to fabulous ancient temples and waterfalls. We add an extra day of walking to this trip with a walk on the Kohechi route, which is the toughest of all the days but well worth the effort. The Kohechi connected the spiritual hubs of Koyasan and Hongu and was used by pilgrims and merchants alike.

The Kumano Kodo is one of just two world heritage-listed walks, the other being the Camino de Santiago.  Some nights you can soak in an onsen while staying in traditional Japanese accommodation, savouring excellent traditional Japanese multi-course dinners and breakfasts.

Highlights

  • An ancient walk through Buddhist and Shinto history and an immersive Japanese cultural experience
  • Walk toward becoming a dual pilgrim by walking the Kumano Kodo (the other world heritage listed walk is the Camino de Santiago) at your own pace
  • Excellent graded trails, wondrous views, old forest, and opportunities to bathe in onsens
  • See the magnificent Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi-san
  • Witness the incredible Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan
  • The challenging Kohechi route, with its 33 Kannon statues en route
  • Options to vary the lengths of walks on the Kumano Kodo most days should you so wish

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
9 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate to Challenging

Grade 4 - Moderate to Challenging

Distances are longer up to 20 plus km. Steep hill sections and rough surfaces. Walking experience and active lifestyle necessary.

PRICE FROM
$ 3250

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 470

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of a room when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9

DAY 1
Kii-Tanabe

Travel by train to the small coastal village of Kii-Tanabe, the gateway to the Kumano Kodo via the picturesque coastline from Osaka or Kyoto.

Kii Tanabe is a small Japanese town that is not populated by tourists. The town is on the ocean and serves the local area. There is an opportunity to explore the town, its many small shrines, the beach and ample time to ready yourself for the upcoming walk, including a briefing session with our local Kumano Kodo expert.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Hotel in Tanabe
Meals: None

DAY 2
Takijiri-oji to Takahara

Today’s walk starts with a small transfer up the road to the trailhead at Takijiri-oji (Oji is a small shrine).

The walk on the Nakahechi route begins with a significant climb to Takahara, a small village perched on the side of a mountain.  The Nakahechi is the imperial route once used by Japanese royalty, walked for generations back to the 8th century.

There are nice views out to the left over the valley, and our first encounter with the Kumano’s Kodo walks beauty.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or rental house in Takahara
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Moderate /4.0 km / 2 to 3 hrs
Elevation: +300 / -120

DAY 3
Takahara to Chikatsuyu

From Takahara, there are lovely views as you skirt across the face of the mountain before the trail winds its’ way back into the forest. This is the first real sense of walking through the distinctive Japanese forest canopy on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.  You make your way back down into the valley, walking past Oji (shrines) over the river to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or rental house in Chikatsuyu
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Easy to Moderate / 10.2 km / 4-5 hrs
Elevation: +630 / -650

DAY 4
Chikatsuyu to Hongu Taisha

It’s an early start today, for this is the biggest day of the pilgrimage. We hike ancient mountain trails to Hongu Taisha, one of the three main shrines of the Kumano Kodo.  This is a 24km hike, but it can be modified to 16km or 8km, depending on how you’re feeling. You’ll hike the sacred Kii Mountains, said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, in mythological terms, the Shinto underworld. Pass through small villages, thick green forest and aside cascading streams. Pass shrine after shrine, eventually arriving at Hongu Taisha, where you can explore the massive temple. Before dinner, take a dip in either your accommodation’s onsen or one of the many ancient public onsens that dot the area. Dress in your Yukata (best described as a formal Japanese bathrobe ) that’s provided at each of the accommodations and enjoy a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Challenging / 24 km (or 16 km or 8 km )/ 8.5-9.5 hrs
Elevation: +1130 / -980

DAY 5
Rest day and time to relax and explore or undertake additional walks

We have recommended a rest day in Hongu because of the location’s natural beauty and significance and because there’s so much to do.  We can remove the rest day if you wish.

There’s the option to spend extra time at Hongu Taisha and the cultural centre (you may have been rushed yesterday)  or just relax and take a  dip in a 1200-year-old onsen in the river. Explore the area on a bike, sit in a cafe and savour a good coffee or immerse yourself in one of the many unique Japanese activities that are available.

We’ve also walked and constructed notes for the tracks around Hongu. Namely, the Dainichi-goe path that connects Hongu to Yunomine Onsen or the last day of the Kumano Kodo Kohechi route that connects Totsukawa Onsen via Yakio to Hongu.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast and dinner
Walking: Optional

DAY 6
Walk on the Kohechi route to Totsukawa

Today’s walk can start from Hongu. However, we prefer to walk from Yakio to avoid the track that’s now a busy bitumen road. To avoid this, you travel a short distance beside the brilliant aquamarine-coloured Kumano-gawa river to Yakio. The Kohechi route is just one of 5 other Kumano Kodo routes in the Wakayama region.  The Kohechi was a major route as it connects two of the main Buddhist sacred temple complexes, Koyasan and Hongu, through the central Kii peninsula. Incidentally, this route is one of the toughest.  Prepare for some epic views as you walk up the mountain to Hatenashi-toge Pass at 1015m. The path is marked with 33 Kannon Statues honouring Kannon Bodhhivistas (the monks that compassionately choose to stay behind and help the rest of us forgoing enlightenment in the process). Totsukawa is well known for its superb onsens, and if you feel inclined, there’s an excellent onsen at Hotel Subaru to enjoy.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Challenging / 11 km / 4.5 -5.5 hrs
Elevation: +880 / -950

DAY 7
Ukegawa to Koguchi

The Nakahechi continues on the Kogumotori-goe path, one of the region’s best walks. Starting alongside the Kumano River the walk ventures up the mountain through the forest and back down again to the small village of Koguchi. Highlights include views from Hyakken-gura over the 3600 peaks of Kumano.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku in Koguchi
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Easy to moderate / 12.8 km / 4.5-5.5 hrs
Elevation: +670 / -690

DAY 8
Koguchi to Nachi-san

The start of today’s walk is as challenging as you can get, but it’s our favourite on the Nakahechi, so you’re in for a real treat.  There’s a fair bit of elevation and walking up, but the views out over the Pacific and the glimpses of mountains as you traverse through the forest make it all worth the effort. The highlight is the walk into Nachi Taisha over the ancient Ogumotori-goe path travelled by thousands of pilgrims and then walking into the magnificent shrine. The panoramic scene of the superb orange Seiganto-ji Temple against the backdrop of the sacred Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan, is certainly one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Japan.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Hotel in Nachisan or Kiii-Katsuura
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Moderate to challenging / 14.2 km / 5.5-7 hrs
Elevation: +1260 / -930

DAY 9
Onward to your next destination

After your last traditional Japanese breakfast, farewell the walk by exploring the temple complex further and/or make your way onwards to Osaka, Kyoto or a destination of your choice. There are many options to further explore in Wakayama. Stay in a beautiful seaside village like Shirahama along the Shihara coast or visit Koyasan, the spiritual capital of Japan. If you want even more of a laid-back experience, then the Yuasa or Hidaka areas haven’t changed much for hundreds of years and are an excellent place to head.

Meals: Breakfast

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex plus a day of the Kohechi
  • 8 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with with in-house onsens
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 6 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground

VIDEOS

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

Each night you will be staying in a lovely Ryokan or Minshuku.

Ryokans are Japanese guesthouses that come in a variety of styles, from traditional wooden structures to more of a modern hybrid hotel.

Ryokans have Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats, shoji sliding doors, and futons for sleeping. Few Ryokan Hotels have rooms with actual beds. The rooms may or may not have ensuites, but be prepared for a bit of luxury regarding the heated toilet seats. The bathing area is often the pride of the Ryokan; these are usually communal and separated by the two genders.

Meals are elaborate affairs from a Western point of view served in a traditional dining area. A traditional Kaiseki set meal is what is usually offered. Sometimes there is the option of a buffet at the larger Ryokans.

Minshukus are family-run accommodations that are often found in rural Japan. There is a fine line between a Minshuku and some smaller Ryokans, making it hard to distinguish between the two. Most Minshukus are very small, with only a few Japanese-style rooms like a Bed and Breakfast Japanese style. Staying at a Minshuku has its’ advantages, as it is an excellent chance to meet the local people and get right up close to the Japanese culture.  The atmosphere is often like that of a home with traditional meals served much like at a Ryokan but with even more intimacy. Be prepared, as baths and toilets are often shared.

FITNESS GUIDE

It’s well worth investing some time and effort preparing for your walking holiday. The graph shows the average daily distance, elevation and terrain difficulty for your hike. The dotted line indicates the average across all our walks, which will give you a feel for how challenging your walk is compared to all – and the recommended type, and amount, of preparation needed.  Of course, you can adapt this according to your existing fitness levels and lifestyle.

The graph and the information below can be used in conjunction with the fitness guide to help you prepare for your walking adventure. Across all walks, average daily distance is 16.8km, average daily elevation is 448m, average terrain difficulty is 5/10.

ngraph

DISTANCE - BELOW AVERAGE

Distance is not a major consideration in your training program. However, you should still incorporate some long walks as it will increase your cardiovascular fitness.

ELEVATION - ABOVE AVERAGE

Elevation training is a major consideration in your overall training program. You must include walks with serious hill climbs.

If you do not have access to hills, it is essential to replicate the elevation level you will be undertaking in any way possible such as on a treadmill or stair climber. Walking up and down stairs at work, at a local oval with a grandstand, or up and down small hills is incredibly useful. Also, prioritising resistance weight training will help you develop overall muscle strength.  Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems, opposed to distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking.

If high altitude is a factor, incorporate sessions at a higher altitude to acclimatise your body to reduced oxygen levels if you are able to. Ensure you can comfortably walk the average elevation per day displayed in the graph, at least one month before you undertake your hike.

MOUNTAINOUS / UNDULATING TERRAIN

As terrain associated with mountain climbs is often somewhat uneven and rocky, balancing and core exercises are vital.

Try to also include some form of elevation in more than 50% of your walking and prioritise resistance training, whilst incorporating stairs anytime you can. Walking up mountains or hills, up and down stairs at work, or up and down at a local oval with a grandstand is incredibly useful. Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems not distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking. Concentrate on doing lots of squats and lunges to build your glute muscles.

GENERAL INFO

HIGH SEASON CHARGES

In Japan, there are some periods when locals travel en masse as they are on holiday. These times are best avoided as the accommodation costs escalate considerably (more than double). It would make a lot of sense if you could avoid these times. Otherwise, see below for high-season periods. This could lead to the cost of the trip increasing by 30% or more.

NEW YEAR PERIOD – 30TH DECEMBER TO 4TH OF JANUARY 

GOLDEN WEEK – GENERALLY BETWEEN 29TH APRIL TO 5TH MAY

OBON PERIOD – MID-AUGUST ( BETWEEN THE 10TH TO 20TH OF AUGUST)

Please speak to the office to get a quote for the above times

AVAILABILITY

This walk is available all year round, but you may encounter some snow from December to February. Many people prefer to walk in spring to see the cherry blossoms and in autumn because of the change of seasons and the good weather.

HOW TO GET START AND FROM END OF WALK

Travelling to the Start of the walk

This walk starts in Tanabe and ends in Nachi-san or Nachi-Katsuura. You will need to get yourself to and from the start and end of your walk (i.e. you will need to organise your travel to the start of the walk in Tanabe and then onwards from your last accommodation). To make it easy we have collated some useful information that will assist you in making arrangements for your travel.

By Air: By far, the best option is to fly into Osaka and take the train from there. You can take the train direct from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kii-Tanabe (train station).  Take a local train for a few stops and then hop on the Kii Peninsula JR West train. The train station is at the airport, and English-speaking staff are at the ticket office. You might consider spending some time in Osaka. Osaka is a very interesting city with many beautiful temples and Osaka Castle. In spring, it is particularly beautiful. It also has a sophisticated restaurant culture and markets that seem to go on for kilometres.

By rail: Japan has one of the best train systems in the world, so it’s very easy to catch a train to any destination in the country. An express train is the fastest way to travel to the area. Travelling in Japan on trains is a seamless experience, and it is not necessary to always pre-purchase tickets. There’s plenty of Rail staff that speak English well enough to direct you the right way and to converse with you about how to buy your ticket. We can provide more information if you wish, so please ask one of our destination consultants.

Hyperdia is a great website resource for determining when and where your train departs. It might be best to buy your train ticket on the JR train network when you first arrive in Japan so you can relax. However, the trains run often and are so efficient that you shouldn’t have any trouble just arriving 20 minutes beforehand and buying a ticket. JR passes can be a convenient and reasonable way to get around the area. There are two regional JR passes that cover the Kii Peninsula: Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Tourist Pass.

The journey from Osaka to Tanabe takes about 1 – 2 hours. You can take the train direct from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kii-Tanabe (train station).  Take a local train to Hineno station, then hop on the Kii Peninsula JR West train. The train station is at the airport, and there are English-speaking staff at the ticket office.

If you stay in Osaka, then you’ll need to catch the Subway (Osaka Metro Midosuji) to Tennoji station. The tickets can be purchased locally. From Tennoji, it’s a JR train service to Kii-Tanabe bound for Shirahama.

Travelling from the end of the walk

By rail: The train from Katsuura (Kii- Katsuura train station is a short distance from Nachisan) back to Osaka takes about 4 hours. You can also choose to go to Tokyo or anywhere else for that matter in Japan. However, you most likely will need to travel through a major city to get there.

By Air: See above

WALKING

This 72km walk is moderate to challenging, with some long days if you wish. Full-day walks average about 17 km with 5 –9. hours walking each day; however, they can be as long as 24 km (you can shorten most days). The walking is over well-maintained paths but expect each day to start with some reasonable elevation gains. All good, though, as the tracks do flatten out.

This historic route has stacks of small temples (Oji)  and statues to admire along the way. For much of the time, you are walking under forest canopy, which makes for mild conditions other than the height of summer.

Please refer to Gear Advice in our FAQ section for what to bring.

WEATHER

From the end of March, the temperature begins to increase. In summer the conditions are excellent particularly if you enjoy warmer temperatures and taking a dip in a stream. It can, however, get a little humid.

The walk is offered in winter but bring some warm clothes and good rain gear.  The area is just as beautiful if not more and is not busy at all. Soaking in an outside onsen in the cool of the night is one of those real authentic Japanese experiences that you can look forward to after a big day on the track.

We believe spring and autumn to be the best time to walk as the weather is perfect for walking.

See the weather information about Osaka’s average weather at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We require that you have adequate travel insurance against potential losses, damage or injury, including cancellation costs and loss of luggage.

For all trips requiring international travel, you must have purchased travel insurance including medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred by our suppliers and in the office.  See the FAQ section for more information.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years, we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know, even with that in mind, that you’ll have many more questions. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately 6 weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants or if you have specific track-related questions, ask Magnus, Brett or Tash who have all walked the track. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

MAP

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    PER PERSON
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $3250

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $470

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

  • 1 Jan 2025 - 31 Dec 2025
    AVAILABLE
    from

    $3350

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $475

    FOR HIGH SEASON CHARGES SEE GENERAL INFO

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Overview

OVERVIEW

Kumano's sacred mountains have been a significant pilgrimage destination for imperial and aristocratic families since 794AD. The Kumano Kodo traverses the sacred Kii mountains, via lush forest and villages, to fabulous ancient temples and waterfalls. We add an extra day of walking to this trip with a walk on the Kohechi route, which is the toughest of all the days but well worth the effort. The Kohechi connected the spiritual hubs of Koyasan and Hongu and was used by pilgrims and merchants alike.

The Kumano Kodo is one of just two world heritage-listed walks, the other being the Camino de Santiago.  Some nights you can soak in an onsen while staying in traditional Japanese accommodation, savouring excellent traditional Japanese multi-course dinners and breakfasts.

Highlights

  • An ancient walk through Buddhist and Shinto history and an immersive Japanese cultural experience
  • Walk toward becoming a dual pilgrim by walking the Kumano Kodo (the other world heritage listed walk is the Camino de Santiago) at your own pace
  • Excellent graded trails, wondrous views, old forest, and opportunities to bathe in onsens
  • See the magnificent Grand Shrines at Hongu and Nachi-san
  • Witness the incredible Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan
  • The challenging Kohechi route, with its 33 Kannon statues en route
  • Options to vary the lengths of walks on the Kumano Kodo most days should you so wish

WALK OVERVIEW

TYPE OF WALK
SELF GUIDED
TRIP LENGTH
9 DAYS
WALK GRADE
Moderate to Challenging

Grade 4 - Moderate to Challenging

Distances are longer up to 20 plus km. Steep hill sections and rough surfaces. Walking experience and active lifestyle necessary.

PRICE FROM
$ 3250

per person twin/double share

SINGLE OCCUPANCY
$ 470

Accommodations charge the same price per room regardless of whether there are one or two people occupying it. To cover the cost of the accommodation when occupied by one person we need to charge the single occupancy fee.

per person

Book now
Itinerary

ITINERARY

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9

DAY 1
Kii-Tanabe

Travel by train to the small coastal village of Kii-Tanabe, the gateway to the Kumano Kodo via the picturesque coastline from Osaka or Kyoto.

Kii Tanabe is a small Japanese town that is not populated by tourists. The town is on the ocean and serves the local area. There is an opportunity to explore the town, its many small shrines, the beach and ample time to ready yourself for the upcoming walk, including a briefing session with our local Kumano Kodo expert.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Hotel in Tanabe
Meals: None

DAY 2
Takijiri-oji to Takahara

Today’s walk starts with a small transfer up the road to the trailhead at Takijiri-oji (Oji is a small shrine).

The walk on the Nakahechi route begins with a significant climb to Takahara, a small village perched on the side of a mountain.  The Nakahechi is the imperial route once used by Japanese royalty, walked for generations back to the 8th century.

There are nice views out to the left over the valley, and our first encounter with the Kumano’s Kodo walks beauty.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or rental house in Takahara
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Moderate /4.0 km / 2 to 3 hrs
Elevation: +300 / -120

DAY 3
Takahara to Chikatsuyu

From Takahara, there are lovely views as you skirt across the face of the mountain before the trail winds its’ way back into the forest. This is the first real sense of walking through the distinctive Japanese forest canopy on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.  You make your way back down into the valley, walking past Oji (shrines) over the river to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or rental house in Chikatsuyu
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Easy to Moderate / 10.2 km / 4-5 hrs
Elevation: +630 / -650

DAY 4
Chikatsuyu to Hongu Taisha

It’s an early start today, for this is the biggest day of the pilgrimage. We hike ancient mountain trails to Hongu Taisha, one of the three main shrines of the Kumano Kodo.  This is a 24km hike, but it can be modified to 16km or 8km, depending on how you’re feeling. You’ll hike the sacred Kii Mountains, said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, in mythological terms, the Shinto underworld. Pass through small villages, thick green forest and aside cascading streams. Pass shrine after shrine, eventually arriving at Hongu Taisha, where you can explore the massive temple. Before dinner, take a dip in either your accommodation’s onsen or one of the many ancient public onsens that dot the area. Dress in your Yukata (best described as a formal Japanese bathrobe ) that’s provided at each of the accommodations and enjoy a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Challenging / 24 km (or 16 km or 8 km )/ 8.5-9.5 hrs
Elevation: +1130 / -980

DAY 5
Rest day and time to relax and explore or undertake additional walks

We have recommended a rest day in Hongu because of the location’s natural beauty and significance and because there’s so much to do.  We can remove the rest day if you wish.

There’s the option to spend extra time at Hongu Taisha and the cultural centre (you may have been rushed yesterday)  or just relax and take a  dip in a 1200-year-old onsen in the river. Explore the area on a bike, sit in a cafe and savour a good coffee or immerse yourself in one of the many unique Japanese activities that are available.

We’ve also walked and constructed notes for the tracks around Hongu. Namely, the Dainichi-goe path that connects Hongu to Yunomine Onsen or the last day of the Kumano Kodo Kohechi route that connects Totsukawa Onsen via Yakio to Hongu.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast and dinner
Walking: Optional

DAY 6
Walk on the Kohechi route to Totsukawa

Today’s walk can start from Hongu. However, we prefer to walk from Yakio to avoid the track that’s now a busy bitumen road. To avoid this, you travel a short distance beside the brilliant aquamarine-coloured Kumano-gawa river to Yakio. The Kohechi route is just one of 5 other Kumano Kodo routes in the Wakayama region.  The Kohechi was a major route as it connects two of the main Buddhist sacred temple complexes, Koyasan and Hongu, through the central Kii peninsula. Incidentally, this route is one of the toughest.  Prepare for some epic views as you walk up the mountain to Hatenashi-toge Pass at 1015m. The path is marked with 33 Kannon Statues honouring Kannon Bodhhivistas (the monks that compassionately choose to stay behind and help the rest of us forgoing enlightenment in the process). Totsukawa is well known for its superb onsens, and if you feel inclined, there’s an excellent onsen at Hotel Subaru to enjoy.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Ryokan in either Kawayu, Wataze or Yunomine Onsens
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Challenging / 11 km / 4.5 -5.5 hrs
Elevation: +880 / -950

DAY 7
Ukegawa to Koguchi

The Nakahechi continues on the Kogumotori-goe path, one of the region’s best walks. Starting alongside the Kumano River the walk ventures up the mountain through the forest and back down again to the small village of Koguchi. Highlights include views from Hyakken-gura over the 3600 peaks of Kumano.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku in Koguchi
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Easy to moderate / 12.8 km / 4.5-5.5 hrs
Elevation: +670 / -690

DAY 8
Koguchi to Nachi-san

The start of today’s walk is as challenging as you can get, but it’s our favourite on the Nakahechi, so you’re in for a real treat.  There’s a fair bit of elevation and walking up, but the views out over the Pacific and the glimpses of mountains as you traverse through the forest make it all worth the effort. The highlight is the walk into Nachi Taisha over the ancient Ogumotori-goe path travelled by thousands of pilgrims and then walking into the magnificent shrine. The panoramic scene of the superb orange Seiganto-ji Temple against the backdrop of the sacred Nachi waterfall, the tallest in Japan, is certainly one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Japan.

Accommodation: Small family-run Minshuku or Hotel in Nachisan or Kiii-Katsuura
Meals:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Walking: Moderate to challenging / 14.2 km / 5.5-7 hrs
Elevation: +1260 / -930

DAY 9
Onward to your next destination

After your last traditional Japanese breakfast, farewell the walk by exploring the temple complex further and/or make your way onwards to Osaka, Kyoto or a destination of your choice. There are many options to further explore in Wakayama. Stay in a beautiful seaside village like Shirahama along the Shihara coast or visit Koyasan, the spiritual capital of Japan. If you want even more of a laid-back experience, then the Yuasa or Hidaka areas haven’t changed much for hundreds of years and are an excellent place to head.

Meals: Breakfast

What’s Included

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Pack-free walking

  • 25+ years experience

  • Customised

  • Eco Travel

  • Walk the entire Kumano Kodo Nakahechi from end to end via magnificent shrines ending at the glorious Nachi waterfall and temple complex plus a day of the Kohechi
  • 8 nights stay in an intimate family-run or small traditional Japanese lodgings, some with with in-house onsens
  • Walk pack free with luggage transfers from accommodation to accommodation
  • Superb traditional multi-course meals for breakfast and dinner each day on the walk. Plus 6 walkers lunches
  • Itineraries can be flexible to shorten the walking or slow the trip down by adding more rest days
  • Enjoy worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s comprehensive track notes and  maps
  • 24/7 support from our representatives on the ground
Videos

VIDEOS

Accommodation & Dining

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

OVERVIEW

Each night you will be staying in a lovely Ryokan or Minshuku.

Ryokans are Japanese guesthouses that come in a variety of styles, from traditional wooden structures to more of a modern hybrid hotel.

Ryokans have Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats, shoji sliding doors, and futons for sleeping. Few Ryokan Hotels have rooms with actual beds. The rooms may or may not have ensuites, but be prepared for a bit of luxury regarding the heated toilet seats. The bathing area is often the pride of the Ryokan; these are usually communal and separated by the two genders.

Meals are elaborate affairs from a Western point of view served in a traditional dining area. A traditional Kaiseki set meal is what is usually offered. Sometimes there is the option of a buffet at the larger Ryokans.

Minshukus are family-run accommodations that are often found in rural Japan. There is a fine line between a Minshuku and some smaller Ryokans, making it hard to distinguish between the two. Most Minshukus are very small, with only a few Japanese-style rooms like a Bed and Breakfast Japanese style. Staying at a Minshuku has its’ advantages, as it is an excellent chance to meet the local people and get right up close to the Japanese culture.  The atmosphere is often like that of a home with traditional meals served much like at a Ryokan but with even more intimacy. Be prepared, as baths and toilets are often shared.

Fitness Guide

FITNESS GUIDE

It’s well worth investing some time and effort preparing for your walking holiday. The graph shows the average daily distance, elevation and terrain difficulty for your hike. The dotted line indicates the average across all our walks, which will give you a feel for how challenging your walk is compared to all – and the recommended type, and amount, of preparation needed.  Of course, you can adapt this according to your existing fitness levels and lifestyle.

The graph and the information below can be used in conjunction with the fitness guide to help you prepare for your walking adventure. Across all walks, average daily distance is 16.8km, average daily elevation is 448m, average terrain difficulty is 5/10.

ngraph

DISTANCE - BELOW AVERAGE

Distance is not a major consideration in your training program. However, you should still incorporate some long walks as it will increase your cardiovascular fitness.

ELEVATION - ABOVE AVERAGE

Elevation training is a major consideration in your overall training program. You must include walks with serious hill climbs.

If you do not have access to hills, it is essential to replicate the elevation level you will be undertaking in any way possible such as on a treadmill or stair climber. Walking up and down stairs at work, at a local oval with a grandstand, or up and down small hills is incredibly useful. Also, prioritising resistance weight training will help you develop overall muscle strength.  Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems, opposed to distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking.

If high altitude is a factor, incorporate sessions at a higher altitude to acclimatise your body to reduced oxygen levels if you are able to. Ensure you can comfortably walk the average elevation per day displayed in the graph, at least one month before you undertake your hike.

MOUNTAINOUS / UNDULATING TERRAIN

As terrain associated with mountain climbs is often somewhat uneven and rocky, balancing and core exercises are vital.

Try to also include some form of elevation in more than 50% of your walking and prioritise resistance training, whilst incorporating stairs anytime you can. Walking up mountains or hills, up and down stairs at work, or up and down at a local oval with a grandstand is incredibly useful. Elevation is often where walkers encounter problems not distance, as it uses an entirely different set of muscles to everyday flat walking. Concentrate on doing lots of squats and lunges to build your glute muscles.

General Info

GENERAL INFO

HIGH SEASON CHARGES

In Japan, there are some periods when locals travel en masse as they are on holiday. These times are best avoided as the accommodation costs escalate considerably (more than double). It would make a lot of sense if you could avoid these times. Otherwise, see below for high-season periods. This could lead to the cost of the trip increasing by 30% or more.

NEW YEAR PERIOD – 30TH DECEMBER TO 4TH OF JANUARY 

GOLDEN WEEK – GENERALLY BETWEEN 29TH APRIL TO 5TH MAY

OBON PERIOD – MID-AUGUST ( BETWEEN THE 10TH TO 20TH OF AUGUST)

Please speak to the office to get a quote for the above times

AVAILABILITY

This walk is available all year round, but you may encounter some snow from December to February. Many people prefer to walk in spring to see the cherry blossoms and in autumn because of the change of seasons and the good weather.

HOW TO GET START AND FROM END OF WALK

Travelling to the Start of the walk

This walk starts in Tanabe and ends in Nachi-san or Nachi-Katsuura. You will need to get yourself to and from the start and end of your walk (i.e. you will need to organise your travel to the start of the walk in Tanabe and then onwards from your last accommodation). To make it easy we have collated some useful information that will assist you in making arrangements for your travel.

By Air: By far, the best option is to fly into Osaka and take the train from there. You can take the train direct from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kii-Tanabe (train station).  Take a local train for a few stops and then hop on the Kii Peninsula JR West train. The train station is at the airport, and English-speaking staff are at the ticket office. You might consider spending some time in Osaka. Osaka is a very interesting city with many beautiful temples and Osaka Castle. In spring, it is particularly beautiful. It also has a sophisticated restaurant culture and markets that seem to go on for kilometres.

By rail: Japan has one of the best train systems in the world, so it’s very easy to catch a train to any destination in the country. An express train is the fastest way to travel to the area. Travelling in Japan on trains is a seamless experience, and it is not necessary to always pre-purchase tickets. There’s plenty of Rail staff that speak English well enough to direct you the right way and to converse with you about how to buy your ticket. We can provide more information if you wish, so please ask one of our destination consultants.

Hyperdia is a great website resource for determining when and where your train departs. It might be best to buy your train ticket on the JR train network when you first arrive in Japan so you can relax. However, the trains run often and are so efficient that you shouldn’t have any trouble just arriving 20 minutes beforehand and buying a ticket. JR passes can be a convenient and reasonable way to get around the area. There are two regional JR passes that cover the Kii Peninsula: Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Tourist Pass.

The journey from Osaka to Tanabe takes about 1 – 2 hours. You can take the train direct from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kii-Tanabe (train station).  Take a local train to Hineno station, then hop on the Kii Peninsula JR West train. The train station is at the airport, and there are English-speaking staff at the ticket office.

If you stay in Osaka, then you’ll need to catch the Subway (Osaka Metro Midosuji) to Tennoji station. The tickets can be purchased locally. From Tennoji, it’s a JR train service to Kii-Tanabe bound for Shirahama.

Travelling from the end of the walk

By rail: The train from Katsuura (Kii- Katsuura train station is a short distance from Nachisan) back to Osaka takes about 4 hours. You can also choose to go to Tokyo or anywhere else for that matter in Japan. However, you most likely will need to travel through a major city to get there.

By Air: See above

WALKING

This 72km walk is moderate to challenging, with some long days if you wish. Full-day walks average about 17 km with 5 –9. hours walking each day; however, they can be as long as 24 km (you can shorten most days). The walking is over well-maintained paths but expect each day to start with some reasonable elevation gains. All good, though, as the tracks do flatten out.

This historic route has stacks of small temples (Oji)  and statues to admire along the way. For much of the time, you are walking under forest canopy, which makes for mild conditions other than the height of summer.

Please refer to Gear Advice in our FAQ section for what to bring.

WEATHER

From the end of March, the temperature begins to increase. In summer the conditions are excellent particularly if you enjoy warmer temperatures and taking a dip in a stream. It can, however, get a little humid.

The walk is offered in winter but bring some warm clothes and good rain gear.  The area is just as beautiful if not more and is not busy at all. Soaking in an outside onsen in the cool of the night is one of those real authentic Japanese experiences that you can look forward to after a big day on the track.

We believe spring and autumn to be the best time to walk as the weather is perfect for walking.

See the weather information about Osaka’s average weather at different times of the year.

INSURANCE

We require that you have adequate travel insurance against potential losses, damage or injury, including cancellation costs and loss of luggage.

For all trips requiring international travel, you must have purchased travel insurance including medical evacuation coverage.

We also charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your walking holiday after we have confirmed it to cover costs incurred by our suppliers and in the office.  See the FAQ section for more information.

INFORMATION PACK

For nearly 30 years, we have taken pride in providing seamlessly organised walking holidays, but we know, even with that in mind, that you’ll have many more questions. You will receive a detailed information pack and itinerary approximately 6 weeks out from departure outlining all the fine detail and much more.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of our destination consultants or if you have specific track-related questions, ask Magnus, Brett or Tash who have all walked the track. You can get in touch with us via our contact form, email us at info@auswalk.com.au, or call us on +61 3 9597 9767.

Map

MAP

Departure Dates

DEPARTURE DATES

  • DATES
    AVAILABILITY
    PRICE
    PER PERSON
    Single Occupancy
    DETAILS
  • 1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $3250

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $470
  • 1 Jan 2025 - 31 Dec 2025
    AVAILABLE
    Details
    from

    $3350

    SINGLE OCCUPANCY
    $475
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