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Japanese pilgrimage

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
To help you plan your walk in Japan do read these most informative threads

and


Happy planning!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
Portugues, Muxia-Finist(2015)
St Olavs Way(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF (2019)
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
A brand new Cicerone guide to the Kumano Kodo will be published in March/April this year. It is written by Kat Davis who also authored the Cicerone guide to the Caminho Portugues. Kat is an experienced long distance & pilgrimage walker. She lived in Japan for quite awhile walking both the Kumano Kodo & Shikoku pilgrimage trails as well as climbing Mt Fuji multiple times. She is currently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the US...she knows her stuff. I can't wait for her Kumano Kodo book to be released. Cover pic attached.
Gambatte! 👣🌏52356
 
Last edited:

Takako

New Member
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
Hi Roger,

I hope this website may help you.
Yes, they have Dual Pilgrim passport, Camino de Santiago and Kumano Kodo.

Buen Camino !
Takako
 

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
A brand new Cicerone guide to the Kumano Kodo will be published in March/April this year. It is written by Kat Davis who also authored the Cicerone guide to the Caminho Portugues. Kat is an experienced long distance & pilgrimage walker. She lived in Japan for quite awhile walking both the Kumano Kodo & Shikoku pilgrimage trails as well as climbing Mt Fuji multiple times. She is currently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the US...she knows her stuff. I can't wait for her Kumano Kodo book to be released. Cover pic attached.
Gambatte! 👣🌏View attachment 52356
 

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
Perfect thank you very much!
 

KayVee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Hello, a few friends and I walked the Kumano Kodo in Sep-Oct 2018. Feel free to PM me with any questions.
 

Jackieduda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2018)
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
I cannot offer any information from direct experience, but i met a fellow camino walker in 2018 who was young, fit, etc. and described the Japanese trek as one of the most grueling physical experiences of his life. I am not sure if this is the same trek in Japan. His trek was on an island, hiking from temple to temple.
Jackie
(jacscamino.wordpress.com)
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
I cannot offer any information from direct experience, but i met a fellow camino walker in 2018 who was young, fit, etc. and described the Japanese trek as one of the most grueling physical experiences of his life. I am not sure if this is the same trek in Japan. His trek was on an island, hiking from temple to temple.
Jackie
(jacscamino.wordpress.com)
That was probably the Shikoku pilgrimage, which is 88 temples over 1600 kilometers, not the Kumano Kodo, which can be anywhere from 7 to about a hundred kilometers.
 

Jackieduda

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2018)
That was probably the Shikoku pilgrimage, which is 88 temples over 1600 kilometers, not the Kumano Kodo, which can be anywhere from 7 to about a hundred kilometers.
It wasn’t the length of the trek, rather, the sheer up and down treking that i recall he described.
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
It wasn’t the length of the trek, rather, the sheer up and down treking that i recall he described.
Fair enough - but the Kumano Kodo is not on an island and involves 3 shrines, and no temples :)
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
100 km sounds like around a week. Are there simple pilgrim accomodations at regular intervals?
Just like with the Camino, it depends which of the many routes you take. Most of them have some accommodations or at least shelters.
 

Bamboo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2019)
Hi, I did the 5 day nakahechi trek solo in sept 2018 and loved it.

I booked my accommodation through a mix of booking.com and the tanabe tourism bureau.

My key takeaways are:
* book early - accommodation can be scarce. I started booking in May and some of my preferred accommodation had already been booked out so I had to bus out to my accommodation one night and back to the trailhead the next morning.
In hindsight I probably could’ve rejigged my itinerary to stay at another town to avoid it but I’d stuck to the model itinerary on tanabe’s website.
* Don’t expect to see a lot of people on the track especially at the places where you can start walking from your front door. I didn’t meet anyone on the track itself for the first two days. Although I met people when I got to towns or during lunch breaks. This was a revelation as it was supposed to be peak period. I loved the solitude and its the reason I’m doing the Norte and not the frances this September.
*path markings were great. You won’t get lost.
  • be careful about what season you go. I went during typhoon season. I was lucky as Osaka airport was closed for a few days and only reopened a couple of days before I was due to arrive and I was able to finish my walk a couple of days before the next typhoon was supposed to hit. I met a woman who was in Japan who was gutted because her trek was cancelled because of the impending typhoon. Having said that, typhoons happen all the time in Japan and they are dealt with matter of factly.
  • bring your walking sticks! It was wet most days and the rocks can be slippery. I couldn’t have done it without my sticks. I met a couple of ladies who were on the verge of quitting because of the rocks.
Hope this helps!
 

Avian

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Le Puy Camino (2017) Kumano Kodo (2018)
We are thinking of walking the Kumano Koda later this year and was wondering if anyone has any advice.
Also are there any "Brierley" type guide books available?
I heard that the pilgrimage is a "sister" walk of the Camino de Compostella
Cheers Roger
Hi Roger,
I walked the Kumano Kodo with my husband and two friends last April. It was indeed a great experience and you will love it. It is very different to walking in Europe though. I agree with the comments that have already been posted but will add a few more.
Firstly it is a 'challenging' walk and even though it is not the Shikoku Pilgramage of 1200kms it does involve hiking on a trail that is over 1000years old which means very old and worn stones and tree roots, worn down over the years by the many feet. There are a few high passes to navigate, one that is 5 kms long and ascends 800metres. It is essential to take walking poles to navigate these slippery paths and the descents, especially in the rain. We are sure we would not have made it without our poles. This area of Japan is one of the wettest areas of the country so you are more likely than not to be walking in wet weather at some stage - this makes the journey even more hazardous with wet rocks and roots to navigate. I would still consult the weather patterns of the year as some seasons are wetter than the others.
The trail does not provide the refreshments found in villages in Spain & France where your caffeine fix is attended to. Sometimes there are coin-operated machines near a car park that dispense canned coffee but this is not common. You will need to book ahead as there is not that much accommodation being in a rural area. There are no hostels but more guest houses and you will more than likely be sleeping on tatami mats with rice husk pillows. Breakfast will be tofu, vegetables, rice. I met one group of ladies from Brisbane who brought their own porridge sachets to start their day as they were not fans of the Japanese breakfast.
The benefits over the European caminos is that you will get to be spoilt with an onsen at the end of the day (a thermal hot spring) to iron out the creaks (single-sex and no swimmers allowed and please read up on the etiquette of using an onsen as it has its own set of rules to abide by)
If you want to take advantage of getting your dual pilgrimage passport in Hongu since you walked the Camino Frances make sure you take proof that you have your Compostela from Santiago and make sure you have stamped your Japanese Camino passport with all the stamps on the trail of the Kumano Kudo to the destination of Hongu otherwise you won't 'qualify'.
The people are incredibly kind and pleasant not to mention honest. One of our party mistakenly left their bag of camera gear on the train station platform when taking the train to Kii Tanabe. Two days later it arrived at the guest house we were staying at on the trail with nothing missing. If that had been Europe you would never have seen the bag again.
I hope you enjoy the pilgrimage as much as we did.
 

Richard Smith

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
My wife and I walked the Kumano Kudo before we walked the CF.
We checked out a few commercial trips for ideas and then booked our own trip (at less than 2/3rd the cost), I planned it night by night starting at the smallest towns and confirming accommodation there before booking the rest of the walk.
The Tanabe Tourist Bureau were fantastic, answered my questions overnight and provided such great walking maps (you can also get them at the railway station at the start of the walk if you just turn up).
In hindsight, I should have just outlined my desired walk and let the Tanabe Tourist Bureau work it out rather than going through several stages. Their website is :-
We had a great range of accommodation, from our own house/ traditional japanese hotel/ traditional guesthouse/ converted ex-highschool/ modern hotel. Our hosts were all fantastic and very helpful.
I am a vegetarian and the lengths they went to make dinner and breakfast for a strange requirement in their culture were impressive.
The walk was great, very steep forested hillsides and big river views. Lots of 1,000 year old pilgrim walking evidence and the Japanese survey and manage this trail so well. There are buses at some points if you need to stop early or do short stages. Several big temple sites on the way and the biggest waterfall/temple at the end.
When we walked it was quiet, one or just a few walkers each day and often we were only residents in the facility at night. Walk is very safe, hosts are very supportive and Japanese infrastructure is not so far away if you need it.
This is a culturally rich walk, abandoned compared to the CF of modern times but ringing with history and set in this strange mix of untouched nature and modern Japanese transport.
There are actually three walks (from East, North and West) into the middle and then out to the South that make up the network in this traditional setting. The symbol of the walk is a three legged crow, possibly due to three major clans or perhaps to the three starting points?
We met one Japanese man would does this every year, varies the path he takes. Just in walking clothes, he dons the overnight guest clothes at the traditional stops and has an onsen hot natural bath at each.
We carried too much - based our packs on NZ tramping requirements. You can go much lighter here.
This walk is legendary in Japan but overstated regarding difficulty, many people we met knew about it but thought that two 60 year olds (in not so very fit appearance) had no chance of completing the walk.
 

Walter James Palmer

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 Porto-santiago
Hi Richard, your description sounds very inviting. But you failed to mention what time of year you went that had so few people on the trails. That would be helpful for me, so I would like to know which month you went on this pilgrimage, please?
 

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
Hi Roger,
I walked the Kumano Kodo with my husband and two friends last April. It was indeed a great experience and you will love it. It is very different to walking in Europe though. I agree with the comments that have already been posted but will add a few more.
Firstly it is a 'challenging' walk and even though it is not the Shikoku Pilgramage of 1200kms it does involve hiking on a trail that is over 1000years old which means very old and worn stones and tree roots, worn down over the years by the many feet. There are a few high passes to navigate, one that is 5 kms long and ascends 800metres. It is essential to take walking poles to navigate these slippery paths and the descents, especially in the rain. We are sure we would not have made it without our poles. This area of Japan is one of the wettest areas of the country so you are more likely than not to be walking in wet weather at some stage - this makes the journey even more hazardous with wet rocks and roots to navigate. I would still consult the weather patterns of the year as some seasons are wetter than the others.
The trail does not provide the refreshments found in villages in Spain & France where your caffeine fix is attended to. Sometimes there are coin-operated machines near a car park that dispense canned coffee but this is not common. You will need to book ahead as there is not that much accommodation being in a rural area. There are no hostels but more guest houses and you will more than likely be sleeping on tatami mats with rice husk pillows. Breakfast will be tofu, vegetables, rice. I met one group of ladies from Brisbane who brought their own porridge sachets to start their day as they were not fans of the Japanese breakfast.
The benefits over the European caminos is that you will get to be spoilt with an onsen at the end of the day (a thermal hot spring) to iron out the creaks (single-sex and no swimmers allowed and please read up on the etiquette of using an onsen as it has its own set of rules to abide by)
If you want to take advantage of getting your dual pilgrimage passport in Hongu since you walked the Camino Frances make sure you take proof that you have your Compostela from Santiago and make sure you have stamped your Japanese Camino passport with all the stamps on the trail of the Kumano Kudo to the destination of Hongu otherwise you won't 'qualify'.
The people are incredibly kind and pleasant not to mention honest. One of our party mistakenly left their bag of camera gear on the train station platform when taking the train to Kii Tanabe. Two days later it arrived at the guest house we were staying at on the trail with nothing missing. If that had been Europe you would never have seen the bag again.
I hope you enjoy the pilgrimage as much as we did.
Avain thank you for all that information i really appreciate it Regards Roger
 

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
My wife and I walked the Kumano Kudo before we walked the CF.
We checked out a few commercial trips for ideas and then booked our own trip (at less than 2/3rd the cost), I planned it night by night starting at the smallest towns and confirming accommodation there before booking the rest of the walk.
The Tanabe Tourist Bureau were fantastic, answered my questions overnight and provided such great walking maps (you can also get them at the railway station at the start of the walk if you just turn up).
In hindsight, I should have just outlined my desired walk and let the Tanabe Tourist Bureau work it out rather than going through several stages. Their website is :-
We had a great range of accommodation, from our own house/ traditional japanese hotel/ traditional guesthouse/ converted ex-highschool/ modern hotel. Our hosts were all fantastic and very helpful.
I am a vegetarian and the lengths they went to make dinner and breakfast for a strange requirement in their culture were impressive.
The walk was great, very steep forested hillsides and big river views. Lots of 1,000 year old pilgrim walking evidence and the Japanese survey and manage this trail so well. There are buses at some points if you need to stop early or do short stages. Several big temple sites on the way and the biggest waterfall/temple at the end.
When we walked it was quiet, one or just a few walkers each day and often we were only residents in the facility at night. Walk is very safe, hosts are very supportive and Japanese infrastructure is not so far away if you need it.
This is a culturally rich walk, abandoned compared to the CF of modern times but ringing with history and set in this strange mix of untouched nature and modern Japanese transport.
There are actually three walks (from East, North and West) into the middle and then out to the South that make up the network in this traditional setting. The symbol of the walk is a three legged crow, possibly due to three major clans or perhaps to the three starting points?
We met one Japanese man would does this every year, varies the path he takes. Just in walking clothes, he dons the overnight guest clothes at the traditional stops and has an onsen hot natural bath at each.
We carried too much - based our packs on NZ tramping requirements. You can go much lighter here.
This walk is legendary in Japan but overstated regarding difficulty, many people we met knew about it but thought that two 60 year olds (in not so very fit appearance) had no chance of completing the walk.
Richard I'll bear all this in mind we're a couple of 68 year olds who are up for a challenge thank you, Roger
 

Cicada

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances St Jean -Santiago April -June 2017
Portugues September 2018
Hi, I did the 5 day nakahechi trek solo in sept 2018 and loved it.

I booked my accommodation through a mix of booking.com and the tanabe tourism bureau.

My key takeaways are:
* book early - accommodation can be scarce. I started booking in May and some of my preferred accommodation had already been booked out so I had to bus out to my accommodation one night and back to the trailhead the next morning.
In hindsight I probably could’ve rejigged my itinerary to stay at another town to avoid it but I’d stuck to the model itinerary on tanabe’s website.
* Don’t expect to see a lot of people on the track especially at the places where you can start walking from your front door. I didn’t meet anyone on the track itself for the first two days. Although I met people when I got to towns or during lunch breaks. This was a revelation as it was supposed to be peak period. I loved the solitude and its the reason I’m doing the Norte and not the frances this September.
*path markings were great. You won’t get lost.
  • be careful about what season you go. I went during typhoon season. I was lucky as Osaka airport was closed for a few days and only reopened a couple of days before I was due to arrive and I was able to finish my walk a couple of days before the next typhoon was supposed to hit. I met a woman who was in Japan who was gutted because her trek was cancelled because of the impending typhoon. Having said that, typhoons happen all the time in Japan and they are dealt with matter of factly.
  • bring your walking sticks! It was wet most days and the rocks can be slippery. I couldn’t have done it without my sticks. I met a couple of ladies who were on the verge of quitting because of the rocks.
Hope this helps!
Bamboo thank you
 

Richard Smith

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
Hi Richard, your description sounds very inviting. But you failed to mention what time of year you went that had so few people on the trails. That would be helpful for me, so I would like to know which month you went on this pilgrimage, please?
Hi Walter,
We walked in September 2014.
The weather was good, normal tourist sites were busy but the Kumano Kudo and its intermediate accommodation were empty. I had the impression this was normal but this is 4.5 years ago.
R
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
Hi Roger,

I hope this website may help you.
Yes, they have Dual Pilgrim passport, Camino de Santiago and Kumano Kodo.

Buen Camino !
Takako
Thank YOU very much for the web link! much appreciated. C
 

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