Japan: Walk the Kumano Kodo

Departures: Japan

Walk the Kumano Kodo

Begin your active adventure in the vibrant, bustling city of Osaka, famous for delicious street food and friendly people. Sample foods unique to Osaka with your guide and enjoy a deep dive into the city’s colorful markets. From Osaka, you’ll follow sections of the ancient paths walked by Japanese monks along the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, stopping at the Three Grand Shrines. Find yourself among tranquil forests and quaint villages as you walk. Enjoy the fresh, regional cuisine and traditional accommodations as you make your way. Stop to explore lovely Oji shrines you’ll find by the side of the path. Finish your time in peaceful, jewel-like Kyoto, known as the cultural and artistic capital of Japan. Immerse yourself in its beautiful old buildings, traditional gardens and geisha district.

Beneficiary

We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit communities in need. For this trip, our donation will go to a non-profit organization we support that is having a very positive impact around the world, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, a humanitarian-aid organization that provides ongoing emergency medical aid around the world.

Pricing

Starting at $3790*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.

Itinerary

Year-round

Day 1

Arrive Osaka

Upon arrival in Osaka, make your way independently to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.

Day 2

Osaka

Spend the day with your guide exploring vibrant Osaka. You’ll visit Dotonbori and the Kuromon Ichiba market where you’ll do a deep give into Osakan food culture. Taste various examples of “b-grade” cuisine, like okonomiyaki (a delicious pancake that you make yourself) and takoyaki (bite sized octopus balls). Enjoy the many shops you’ll find in the Kuromon Ichiba market, many devoted to food items. Pause in between the bustle for a moment of tranquility at a small, well-hidden shrine.

Day 3

Osaka – Kii-Tanabe

Begin your journey to the Kii Peninsula and the start of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, the sister pilgrimage trail to the famous Camino de Santiago. On your way to the peninsula, stop at the original soy sauce factory – where this important element in Japanese cuisine was invented and learn how it’s made.

Continue up the coast to Kii-Tanabe, where you’ll spend the night at a local inn before beginning your walk tomorrow.

Day 4

Kii-Tanabe — Chikatsuyu

After breakfast, grab the local bus for a short bus ride to the beginning of your self-guided walk along the Nakahechi portion of the Kumano Kodo Trail.

Your path will climb steadily up to the ridge-top village of Takahara, along the paved, tree-lined path. Continue on through small settlements and peaceful countryside, passing several Oji shrines before arriving in the village of Chikatsuyu. Oji are smaller Shinto shrines that line the Kumano Kodo to protect and guide pilgrims.

Relax at your classic family run Japanese style inn before dinner.

Day 5

Chikatsuyu — Hongu

This morning, continue on the trail through the mountains to Hongu, passing through small villages and forest over the Kii Mountains to the Kumano Shrine at Hongu, one of the three Grand Shrines of Kumano.

Take a short bus ride to Yunomine Onsen, a quaint little collection of inns tucked into a small valley deep in the heart of the sacred mountains of Kumano. Upon arrival, enjoy a relaxing soak in a Japanese bath before your delicious, multi-course dinner.

Day 6

Hongu

Enjoy a free day to spend in the picturesque town of Yunomine Onsen, one of the most historic hot spring towns in Japan. Take advantage of the opportunities for a Japanese bath! For those who want more walking, take the short, steep Dainichigue trail to Hongu Taisha shrine.

Day 7

Hongu — Kii-Katsuura

This morning, take a boat ride along the Kumano River to the Hayatama Shrine just as imperial pilgrims did many years ago. Hayatame Shrine is the second of the three Grand Shrines of the Kumano Kodo. You’ll have time to enjoy the shrine before you make your way to Kii-Katsuura for overnight.

Day 8

Kii-Katsuura — Kyoto

Rise early and see the tuna market in Kii-Katsuura, subject to confirmation. After breakfast, travel by bus to Nachi Taisha, the third of the three Grand Shrines of the Kumano Kodo. The shrine is part of a large complex of neighboring religious sites that exemplify the fusion of Buddhist and Shinto influences that is particular to the Kumano region. The site also boasts the tallest waterfall in Japan – a stunning sight!

Early afternoon, board your train bound for Kyoto. Upon arrival, make your way to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.

Day 9

Kyoto

Spend the morning with your guide discovering the many delights of the imperial city of Kyoto. Begin at Nishiki Market, where you’ll explore the many stalls offering fish, pickles, tea, tofu, sweets and other food items.

Ancient Kyoto comes alive as you walk the halls of Ninomaru Palace, one of the many buildings found on the grounds of Nijo Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, first shogun of the Edo period. The grounds also are home to an exquisite traditional Japanese garden, created for the shogun.

Afternoon at leisure to explore Kyoto on your own.

Day 10

Kyoto — Home

Your adventure ends here! Make your way home via train to Osaka Kansai Airport.

Extend your stay in Japan

Spend more time in Kyoto, where you can immerse yourself further in the culture of this old imperial city, head to Tokyo and explore the many interesting areas of this incredible city or head for Kanazawa, a lovely city on the western coast of Kyushu.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy, based on six people traveling. Airfare not included.