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Kumano Kodo questions

KayVee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#1
First of all, a huge thank you to everyone on this forum. With your help, I had a great walk on the Camino Frances last Summer. The walking bug has bitten me hard..and now we (me and two other ladies I met on the Camino) are planning to walk the Kumano Kodo, hopefully this Fall.
Could folks that have walked the Kumano Kodo help us out with a few questions:
1. Did you use an agency or did you do all your bookings yourself? (If you used an agency, are there any good ones you'd recommend?)
2. How likely is it to find self-catering along the Kumano Kodo? Reason is that, I'm vegetarian and the ubiquitous dashi broth is a no-no for me. My walking partners would be happy to eat at the inns..but I would need some way to heat some water/ make some simple meals. Is that feasible?
3. How strenuous is it compared to the camino? To be more specific, which sections of the Camino would be most like the Kumano Kodo in its 'difficulty rating'?

thanks so much
 

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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#2
Which Kumano Kodo route are you thinking of walking? The majority of people seem to walk the Nakahechi route. I walked that route in March but as I slept for two nights in forest huts I cannot say much about accommodation. On arrival at Kumano Hongu Taisha I stayed in the Kumano Backpackers hostel which does have a very well-equipped kitchen and a very helpful owner who speaks excellent English.

As far as the route is concerned I would say that it is certainly no more difficult than some sections of the Camino Frances. There are several steep hills but none are particularly long and the path surfaces are mostly good. Nothing as long as the climbs to the Cruz de Ferro or O Cebreiro. There are a few rocky sections but they are short and soon passed over. Signposting is excellent and bilingual in Japanese and English. There are also many useful information boards at key points such as the main oji shrines. Much of the way is on forest paths and there are few opportunities during the day to buy food or drink - stock up when you have the chance. The tourist office in Kii-Tanabe is very well organized and runs a booking service for accommodation. I am sure that you could make reservations through them without employing a tour company.
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#3
I walked the Nagahechi trail from Takijiri-Oji to Hongu Taisha this last March. I found it harder than the Camino Frances. every day was like climbing O Cebreiro (and steeper) and descending from Molinaseca/Zubiri several times! Not a lot of the trail is nice forest paths - it is scrambling over tree roots, stones and climbing steps. You have to watch where you put every foot, so it is mentally draining as well as physically challenging.

I admit I had been unwell beforehand and was on my second lot of antibiotics in two weeks, and very much underestimated how much this unaccustomed medication affected me and my energy levels. The 38km over 4 days drained me of every resource I had, and I found it totally exhausting.

You do need to reserve accommodations in advance, and from what I read on the facebook groups many places are already booked up. Lodgings are few and far between once you get out on the trail, but there is access to buses so with careful planning you can stay further out and bus back and forth each day. I used the Tanabe Kumano Kodo website, all the information you need is there. You enter your accommodation choices on the booking form, along with your meal choices - and most places offer vegetarian options. I booked the ful meal plan, supper, breakfast and lunchbox. Some places can be found on booking.com.

http://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/

Here's a link to my Kumano Kodo page on facebook (it's open so anyone can view it). with updates, details of where I stayed and luggage shuttle services I used, and photos...

https://www.facebook.com/juliawalksthekumanokodo/

And the groups on facebook are most helpful, there's a KK guide who answers questions there. You should be able to find loads of information in these groups...

https://www.facebook.com/groups/kumanokodoplanning/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/KumanoSantiago.DualPilgrims/?ref=bookmarks
https://www.facebook.com/groups/HikingCaminoDeSantiagoAndTheWorld/?ref=bookmarks

Hope some of this helps, and if you've any further questions, ask.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#4
I walked the Nagahechi trail from Takijiri-Oji to Hongu Taisha this last March. I found it harder than the Camino Frances. every day was like climbing O Cebreiro (and steeper) and descending from Molinaseca/Zubiri several times! Not a lot of the trail is nice forest paths - it is scrambling over tree roots, stones and climbing steps. You have to watch where you put every foot, so it is mentally draining as well as physically challenging.
I am surprised to hear you say this. We seem to have had very different experiences. Perhaps I found it so much easier because I came to the Kumano Kodo more or less directly after walking the Shikoku 88 temple circuit which is about 1200km and has a number of sections far more difficult than anything on the Nakahechi route. I was therefore in pretty good physical shape while you were still recovering from illness. Just shows how people can view the same route completely differently.
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#5
This was my itinerary...

Day 1 Train from Kyoto to Kii-Tanabe. Bus to Takijiri-Oji. Walk to Takahara 4km.
Sleep Kiri-No-Sato Takahara Lodge 12,800 yen includes dinner, breakfast and lunch box
Bag transport Takijiri-Oji to Takahara 1,600 yen (Kodo-no-Mori Luggage Shuttle service)
Day 2 Walk Takahara to Tsugizakura-Oji 13km.
Sleep Minshuku Tsugizakura 11,500 yen includes dinner, breakfast and lunch box
Bag transport 2,200 yen (Kodo-no-Mori service)
Day 3 Walk Tsugizakura-Oji to Hosshinmon-Oji 14km, bus to Yunomine Onsen and Shimo-Yunomine
Sleep Minshuku Yunosato (at Shimo-Yunomine) 8,200 yen includes dinner and breakfast
Bag transport 3,300 yen (Kodo-no-Mori service)
Day 4 Bus back to Hosshinmon-Oji and walk 7km to Hongu-Taisha, then visit Nachi-Taisha (waterfall) via bus and walking Daimon-Zaka
Sleep in Katsuura at Hotel Charmant 6,500 yen includes breakfast, western style room
Bag transport 5,200 yen (Luggage Service Torii)
Day 5 Train from Kii-Katsuura to Tokyo
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#6
Hope some of this helps, and if you've any further questions, ask.
Thank you, Julia!
This has been on my list for ages, but I have a hard time working out how to find space for it.
Someday - I hope perhaps next year when I am taking sabbatical time.
Is there any place where one can store luggage?
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#7
I am surprised to hear you say this. We seem to have had very different experiences. Perhaps I found it so much easier because I came to the Kumano Kodo more or less directly after walking the Shikoku 88 temple circuit which is about 1200km and has a number of sections far more difficult than anything on the Nakahechi route. I was therefore in pretty good physical shape while you were still recovering from illness. Just shows how people can view the same route completely differently.
Even without illness you would have been WAY fitter than I was! I'm only able to get out to walk twice a week, and don't often have time to walk more than 7-10km, though that does involve up and down at least 2 steep hills.
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#9
Thank you, Julia!
This has been on my list for ages, but I have a hard time working out how to find space for it.
Someday - I hope perhaps next year when I am taking sabbatical time.
Is there any place where one can store luggage?
I had a medium sized suitcase with me which I had transported each day and just carried a day pack. that's what most people were doing. I don't know about luggage storage, but the tanabe website will probably have that information. There might be lockers at the Tanabe station (though you'd have to return there which might not be convenient). Otherwise a hotel in a city will hold your luggage between bookings, or one of the main train stations.

I found this on the tanabe website... http://www.tb-kumano.jp/index.php/search-results/?search_paths[]=&query=luggage+storage&submit=Search but Bradypus has posted a better link above1
 

KayVee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#10
Thank you @Bradypus and @julia-t for your detailed responses. Yes, we are considering the Nakahechi route, but would love to add a boat trip to Hayatama Taisha as well.

Do you know if one can get to Koya-san from Kii-Katsuura station (not walking)?

I will check out the facebook pages as well.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#11
Do you know if one can get to Koya-san from Kii-Katsuura station (not walking)?
Yes - that is possible by rail though not in a single journey. The Japanese rail search website www.hyperdia.com will show you the connecting trains. If you are not too pushed for time and would like to save some money you can take a local train rather than the limited express Kurushio service between Wakayama and Kii-Katsuura. Gives more time to admire the scenery :)
PS. When using Hyperdia do not enter the hyphens in the place name: search for "Koyasan" and KiiKatsuura"
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2014
Portuguese 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Kumano Kodo, Japan 2017
VdlP 2018 to be cont’d
#12
Is there any place where one can store luggage?[/QUOTE]

Rather than store luggage and return to Tanabe I used this package/luggage forwarding service when walking the Kumano Kodo. I was able to drop off my extra things at a 7-11 type store in Tanabe and it was transported within 24 hours to my accommodation at the end of the walk. For a medium sized box the cost was about $15 and it saved me having to retrace my steps afterwards. I choose to carry my normal pack and gear and didn’t use luggage transfer on a day to day basis, but choose to send my extra “city” stuff ahead.

https://www.kanpai-japan.com/travel-guide/takkyubin-sending-luggage
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#13
Hello all,

I'm wondering if anyone has any latest information on the state of the Nakahechi route after Typhoon 21/Jebi? The information I found on the Kumano travel site said that the first couple of days from Takijiri-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha is open with some detours. But doesn't say anything about the rest of the trail.

Thanks for any information you might be able to share
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#14
There's lots of information from Mike Rhodes who lives in Tanabe posted in the Kumano Kodo Planning group on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/kumanokodoplanning/?ref=bookmarks

Updates from people who are actually walking at the moment seem to be posted daily.

As I recall the latest was you could walk from Takijiri-Oji to Takahara, then bus to Chikatsuyu. Walk to Gobiri-Oji, then bus to Hosshinmon-Oji and walk to Hongu Taisha. I think the Nachisan trail is open via Koguchi but not sure. Several villages still have no accommodations due to flooding but Yunomine is OK. Part of the Koyasan trail is closed and will be for the forseeable future.

But like I said, it changes daily. The information office in Tanabe will have the most up-to-date reports from the trail, but people out there at the moment are posting on that facebook page often..
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#15
Thanks so much @julia-t especially for the link to the facebook group (which I hadn't known about). They were super-helpful. We are going to stick with our plan and adjust it as we figure out the situation there..muchas gracias!
 

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