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Kumano Kodo

Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
Hello friends!

Been awhile since I’ve been on here. My question is…I am wondering if there is a helpful message board for the Kumano Kodo similar to this board? Im wanting to do that trek when Japan opens back up and this community was so helpful with my Camino I was wishing there was one for Japan as well. As always thanks for any help.

Blake
 
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Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
Thanks for your response. If I may ask a couple questions since you did the Kumano. Is there a specific endpoint like the Camino. Somewhere to end and get a certificate? Also, I’ll have about 10-14 days to walk. Do you have a recommendation for the best route? I’d love to see as many temples as possible. Hope these are not dumb questions lol!

Blake
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
Thanks for your response. If I may ask a couple questions since you did the Kumano. Is there a specific endpoint like the Camino. Somewhere to end and get a certificate? Also, I’ll have about 10-14 days to walk. Do you have a recommendation for the best route? I’d love to see as many temples as possible. Hope these are not dumb questions lol!

Blake
The Kumano Kodo does not have a single endpoint. It is a network of paths in the south of the Kii peninsula which lead towards and then connect three major Shinto shrines. There are several options of route which will allow someone who has already walked a Camino to receive a dual pilgrim certificate at the Hongu Taisha shrine visitor centre. I don't think there is any certificate for those who have only walked a Kumano Kodo path. There is a link on this information page with many maps and further details of the dual pilgrim concept: https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/maps/#map-list.

The most popular Kumano Kodo route is the Nakahechi path. It is quite short at about 40km but a lot of it is on hilly forest paths. Most people would take three days to walk that route. If you want to spend 10 days or more walking you might consider adding on a further walk south to Nachi. This is another route which is mainly on mountainous forest paths.

Your mention of seeing as many temples as possible makes me wonder if perhaps you are confusing the Kumano Kodo (based around Shinto shrines) with the 88 temple Buddhist Shikoku pilgrimage which takes place on a nearby island? If you have 14 days to walk then you would have time to walk both a Kumano Kodo route and a short section of the Shikoku circuit. There are a number of the Shikoku temples clustered around the town of Tokushima which is the ferry port for Wakayama on the Kii peninsula. The Shikoku circuit and the Kumano Kodo are both easily reached from Osaka airport which has direct flights from many international cities.
 
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Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Past OR future Camino
2023?
Your mention of seeing as many temples as possible makes me wonder if perhaps you are confusing the Kumano Kodo (based around Shinto shrines) with the 88 temple Buddhist Shikoku pilgrimage which takes place on a nearby island?
I also wondered if @Blake Beard was actually meaning the Way of 88 Temples; I was about to offer up the info as a re-direct but you beat me to it... 😁
Just the thought makes me realise how much I miss Japan! 🎏♨️ 🍱
Gambatte Blake, whichever route you chose.
👣 🌏
 

Kevin Considine

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hello friends!

Been awhile since I’ve been on here. My question is…I am wondering if there is a helpful message board for the Kumano Kodo similar to this board? Im wanting to do that trek when Japan opens back up and this community was so helpful with my Camino I was wishing there was one for Japan as well. As always thanks for any help.

Blake
As others, not sure if you are thinking of the Kumano Kodo Shinto or Shikoku 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage. I did both and they are very diffferent as explained in this detailed blog post How The 88 Temple Pilgrimage and Kumano Kodo Are Different From The Camino de Santiago.

The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes developed as a way for people to move between the sacred areas on the Kii Peninsula. At the center of this religious area are the three Kumano shrines: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha, collectively known as Kumano Sanzan. I chose Kohechi because it starts at Mt. Koyasan where at the top is Okonuin Cemetary where the patron saint of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, Kukai aka Kobo Daishi, is entombed. It also is a 4 day walk through mountain terrain.

Nakahechi is well preserved and relatively easy to walk, leading through hilly, forested landscapes and occasional villages. The section between Takijiri Oji (outside central Tanabe) and Hongu is about 30 kilometers, and can be done in a comfortable two days’ walk.

Ohechi follows the coast from Tanabe to Nachi Taisha. This trail has virtually disappeared due to development and the construction of modern roads.

Iseji connects Kumano with Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. Like Ohechi, much of Iseji’s coastal trail has been covered by paved roads and towns. Only short, isolated sections remain as stoned or earthen trails today.

Kohechi connects Kumano with Koyasan. This mountaintop route is challenging. Inns are rarely found without zigzagging up and down the mountainsides into valley towns, greatly increasing the distance traveled.

Omine Okugake connects Kumano with Yoshino via Mount Omine. Like Kohechi, Omine Okugake is a difficult route that follows high mountain ridges and barely passes any towns for much of its duration.
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017
Hello friends!

Been awhile since I’ve been on here. My question is…I am wondering if there is a helpful message board for the Kumano Kodo similar to this board? Im wanting to do that trek when Japan opens back up and this community was so helpful with my Camino I was wishing there was one for Japan as well. As always thanks for any help.

Blake
The late and much missed Kat Davis has a blog on the Kumano Kod trail.


She also wrote a guidebook which is available via Amazon or Cicerone direct.

 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
Just a few snaps to whet your eppetitie. Be sure to take one of your Credenciales from the Way of Saint James if you’d like to receive a Dual Pilgrim certificate, as @Bradypus mentioned.

The shot in traditional dress was at one of our home stays. Love Japan. Love the Kumàno Kodo ❤️

PS Not a gréât shot of the stone marker, but it says 10,755 kms (to Santiago)
 

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Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
Just a few snaps to whet your eppetitie. Be sure to take one of your Credenciales from the Way of Saint James if you’d like to receive a Dual Pilgrim certificate, as @Bradypus mentioned.

The shot in traditional dress was at one of our home stays. Love Japan. Love the Kumàno Kodo ❤️

PS Not a gréât shot of the stone marker, but it says 10,755 kms (to Santiago)
They look amazing!! Thank you for posting. And I have my Camino credentials framed. Would it be acceptable if I take a photo of them to show proof?
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
They look amazing!! Thank you for posting. And I have my Camino credentials framed. Would it be acceptable if I take a photo of them to show proof?
I would think so. As we found everywhere in Japan, the people Kumàno Hongu Herotage Centre where I got my dual pilgrim certificate were very helpful.
 

Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
I would think so. As we found everywhere in Japan, the people Kumàno Hongu Herotage Centre where I got my dual pilgrim certificate were very helpful.
Is there a passport to get stamped like the Camino? Also, I’d like to end my trek at the heritage center. Do you recommend a route to take? Was trying to do a 10 day trek if possible.
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
@Blake Beard Just some info for what it’s worth. We spent 3 weeks in Japan inc 5 days on the Kumàno Kodo Nakaheshi Route. Wonderful. And some challenging sections.

As we are not usually ones for using tour companies, I did our accommodation bookings via the Community Reservation website. I wouldn’t do that again. It was so time consuming and a very slow and cumbersome process. It took 3-4 days to hear back whether the accommodation was available each location. Accommodation is limited so it was important to have somewhere to stay. Out of 5 nights, twice we didn’t get the lodging we wanted.

If we walked again I would use a local intermediary company to book the accommodation. My sense is they are ‘on the ground’ and have relationships with the ryokans, onsens, and home stays etc.

That was in November 2019 - so I can’t speak to how the community reservation system is now - perhaps it has improved.

Looking back we are thrilled to have made that trip to Japan before the world turned upside down just a few months later. 🙏
 

Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
@Blake Beard Just some info for what it’s worth. We spent 3 weeks in Japan inc 5 days on the Kumàno Kodo Nakaheshi Route. Wonderful. And some challenging sections.

As we are not usually ones for using tour companies, I did our accommodation bookings via the Community Reservation website. I wouldn’t do that again. It was so time consuming and a very slow and cumbersome process. It took 3-4 days to hear back whether the accommodation was available each location. Accommodation is limited so it was important to have somewhere to stay. Out of 5 nights, twice we didn’t get the lodging we wanted.

If we walked again I would use a local intermediary company to book the accommodation. My sense is they are ‘on the ground’ and have relationships with the ryokans, onsens, and home stays etc.

That was in November 2019 - so I can’t speak to how the community reservation system is now - perhaps it has improved.

Looking back we are thrilled to have made that trip to Japan before the world turned upside down just a few months later. 🙏
That is some good advise. I’ll definitely try to use local to reserve rooms. TY!
 
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anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
Is there a passport to get stamped like the Camino? Also, I’d like to end my trek at the heritage center. Do you recommend a route to take? Was trying to do a 10 day trek if possible
We walked the Nakahechi in 5 days though day 1 was just a few hours (after arriving in Kii Tanabe on the train). Thé distances are not long - much shorter than we would typically walk on thé camino paths - but thé terrain can be challenging in parts. We finished at the heritage centre.

You could add, for example, the Kohecji trail to bring it up to 10 days. But we didn’t do that so I’m not familiar with it.

These websites may be useful for information.



Thinking about this makes me want to do again!
 
Past OR future Camino
2022
In March 2015 I was very fortunate and walked approximately 70 kms on the Kumano Kodo from Takijiri-oji to Nachisan. It was an incredible walk through the Kii Peninsula Mountains. As luck would have it the Dual Pilgrim designation was introduced in January 2015 so when I walked on Day 3 into the Kumano Hongu Taisha office where I had my 15 minutes of fame.

At the time a Dual Pilgrim...one who has walked the Way of St. James and Kumano Kodo...the two Unesco recognized pilgrimage routes was a rare event. I was the 5th recipient and 1st Canadian of the Dual Pilgrim designation...so the Kumano Hong Taisha office folks were really excited! Supposedly my picture is in some display in Taisha office however I have never received confirmation of such. Be sure to have your Way of St. James Compostela with you.

Practical information - route is super interesting...at times it is pretty tough but exhilarating walking. A super helpful website is www.tb-kumano.jp which is where I was able to pre-book all accommodation through them at traditional Japanese inns along the route. It was a very smooth process.

Finally if you want additional info I included 6 blog postings in my Camino blog... www.caminolongwalk.blogspot.com. On the right hand side go to Blog Archive...then 2015 March and there are 6 postings...pictures and various thoughts.

Happy planning...it will be a fantastic walk!

Guy
 

Blake Beard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portugués
In March 2015 I was very fortunate and walked approximately 70 kms on the Kumano Kodo from Takijiri-oji to Nachisan. It was an incredible walk through the Kii Peninsula Mountains. As luck would have it the Dual Pilgrim designation was introduced in January 2015 so when I walked on Day 3 into the Kumano Hongu Taisha office where I had my 15 minutes of fame.

At the time a Dual Pilgrim...one who has walked the Way of St. James and Kumano Kodo...the two Unesco recognized pilgrimage routes was a rare event. I was the 5th recipient and 1st Canadian of the Dual Pilgrim designation...so the Kumano Hong Taisha office folks were really excited! Supposedly my picture is in some display in Taisha office however I have never received confirmation of such. Be sure to have your Way of St. James Compostela with you.

Practical information - route is super interesting...at times it is pretty tough but exhilarating walking. A super helpful website is www.tb-kumano.jp which is where I was able to pre-book all accommodation through them at traditional Japanese inns along the route. It was a very smooth process.

Finally if you want additional info I included 6 blog postings in my Camino blog... www.caminolongwalk.blogspot.com. On the right hand side go to Blog Archive...then 2015 March and there are 6 postings...pictures and various thoughts.

Happy planning...it will be a fantastic walk!

Guy
My compestela from the Camino is framed. Would a photo be sufficient for proof?
 
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anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
@Blake Beard hi Blake. I think a pilgrims passport or a photo of your compostela would be fine. Come to think of it, Maybe I took one of my passports as i would have found it easier to carry.
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
Practical information - route is super interesting...at times it is pretty tough but exhilarating walking. A super helpful website is www.tb-kumano.jp which is where I was able to pre-book all accommodation through them at traditional Japanese inns along the route. It was a very smooth process

Hi Blake. Just a note re Guy’s mention of the website. That’s the community reservation system I used as a well which, as I commented, was anything but a smooth process. But eventually we got our bookings. That was 2019.

Friends of ours who had used it in 2018 and said it was straightforward but in 2019 the system had changed somewhat in terms of confirmations etc. Won’t bore you with detail, but while we were walking one of the local inn owners explained what had changed in the meantime due to increased interest in the KK.

In any case, it may be back on track now. Hope so. We always prefer to go direct! So worth a try. All the best.
 

gollygolly

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2000/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/2021
Hello friends!
Blake


A suggestion is for the start point to be Koyasan, a quite stunning temple town. There is a very challenging walk, very rarely used, that commences in Koyasan and which will get you to Hongu.

https://koyasan.net/

This video (not mine) gives something of an impression of Koyasan


Strongly suggest to go to the very early morning chanting that takes place at the temple in the middle of the cemetery that can be seen at about minute 2 of the video.

Beginning at Koyasan is one of the least walked routes, though in my opinion one of the most worthwhile
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
Thank you @gollygolly Koyasan / Kohechi Route in our plans for the next time - if thé bodies are still able then! Looks wonderful ❤️
 
Past OR future Camino
2020
As others, not sure if you are thinking of the Kumano Kodo Shinto or Shikoku 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage. I did both and they are very diffferent as explained in this detailed blog post How The 88 Temple Pilgrimage and Kumano Kodo Are Different From The Camino de Santiago.

The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes developed as a way for people to move between the sacred areas on the Kii Peninsula. At the center of this religious area are the three Kumano shrines: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha, collectively known as Kumano Sanzan. I chose Kohechi because it starts at Mt. Koyasan where at the top is Okonuin Cemetary where the patron saint of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, Kukai aka Kobo Daishi, is entombed. It also is a 4 day walk through mountain terrain.

Nakahechi is well preserved and relatively easy to walk, leading through hilly, forested landscapes and occasional villages. The section between Takijiri Oji (outside central Tanabe) and Hongu is about 30 kilometers, and can be done in a comfortable two days’ walk.

Ohechi follows the coast from Tanabe to Nachi Taisha. This trail has virtually disappeared due to development and the construction of modern roads.

Iseji connects Kumano with Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. Like Ohechi, much of Iseji’s coastal trail has been covered by paved roads and towns. Only short, isolated sections remain as stoned or earthen trails today.

Kohechi connects Kumano with Koyasan. This mountaintop route is challenging. Inns are rarely found without zigzagging up and down the mountainsides into valley towns, greatly increasing the distance traveled.

Omine Okugake connects Kumano with Yoshino via Mount Omine. Like Kohechi, Omine Okugake is a difficult route that follows high mountain ridges and barely passes any towns for much of its duration.
I wish I had known of these routes when I lived in Tokyo! In those days, long ago, I wasn't a walker! Fear I am too old now. I did do an old Samurai on a horse trail!
 
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jl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
Just have to add that you need to be VERY careful when walking on the paths - choosing the wrong side with a steep drop off can be treacherous! Not so bad on the Nakahechi route, but on the Kohechi route careless moves can lead to catastrophe! This can be seen below, when my walking partner (on his own, because I had caught a bus due to a sore knee), slipped and fell down the slope. Rescued by the fireies, and ambulance, meant a a 25 minute helicopter ride and led us to coming home early. All well now though, after a crushed vertebrae and a number of cracked ribs!
 

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MikeyC

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
We walked on the 88 Temple route for some 10 days in Northern Shikoku. It was a completely different experience compared to the C. Frances. We only saw 4 other pilgrims on foot although lots of locals in cars and coaches. Too much road walking for my liking though well compensated for by the food. We had travelled in Japan previously but mostly in urban settings so it was a pleasure to be in the countryside.
We then transferred over to be on the Kumano Kodo and much preferred it. Much busier with pilgrims of various nationalities. This was October so we finished just as a typhoon hit and closed down Osaka for 2 days delaying our flight to Taiwan.
I would return for the KK but not the 88.
We obtained the dual certificate by showing our credencial.
 

Ccasimira

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Fall of 2018
Hi Blake,

You've got a lot of great responses to get the ball rolling for you, and I'll just add mine to the mix. I walked the Nakahechi in Feb. of '18 and the Kohechi in Nov. of '19, and hopefully will do the Ise-ji in November of this year.

It sounds like a combo of the Nakahechi and the Kohechi might work for you with what you are wanting to do. There's several different ways logistically to do it. There's lots of info on both pilgrimages in blogs, YT, et cetera. Someone mentioned the FB group of Kumano Kodo Planning, which has great resources and lots of informative past posts to assist you.

After hiking both, they are definitely two different experiences. The Kohechi is much more difficult overall. Whatever your fitness might be, ramp it up a few notches. The downhills were quite the challenge. It's also more much rural. I only saw an Australian father and son on the Kohechi, and that when I was on my way down to Hongu, and that was it as far as westerners until I arrived in Hongu.

There are small little shrines interspersed along the way on both trails. I stopped and made my offerings and prayers at every one I saw. You'll also want to take a day off along the way and take the bus to Shingu where there are two temples and Gotobiki Iwa, the Holy Rock.

Best of luck to you on your wonderful adventure!
 

Hector van der Walt

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2020
Hello friends!

Been awhile since I’ve been on here. My question is…I am wondering if there is a helpful message board for the Kumano Kodo similar to this board? Im wanting to do that trek when Japan opens back up and this community was so helpful with my Camino I was wishing there was one for Japan as well. As always thanks for any help.

Blake
Dear Blake

You will be rewarded with the most magical experience in Japan.

Kumano Kodo is perhaps the most famous pilgrimage in Japan - there are several routes to choose from and a 'slack-packing' option is also available. The route is spectacular, well sign posted and information boards (in English) are available at regular intervals. This is a gentle and popular pilgrimage favoured by non-Japanese.

Well worth to consider is the lesser know (and historical) Shikoku Henro 88 Temple Pilgrimage, frequented mostly by Japanese pilgrims. The 1,150 km route string together 88 Buddhist temples which are scattered like pearls across the island of Shikoku.

It is possible to link 20 Bangai temples to this route and if combined will tally up to 1,400km of magnificent walking.

You are guaranteed to have a full and deep emersion in all things Japanese and an opportunity to circumvent the gorgeous Shikoku island. This pilgrimage is perhaps best described as the continuum of the past and the future.

Tradition require pilgrims to start and end their pilgrimage with a visit to Kōya-san Monastery in Wakayama Prefecture - which is a journey on it's own.

Happy walking.
 
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MikeyC

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
You mentioned you would like to walk in Japan when it opens up. If this were to be summer it would be worthwhile checking out the typical weather at that time of year. These are typically the warmest, wettest and most humid months of the year. I have been a frequent visitor to other humid places in the region and I would not choose to hike in summer. Later September/early October are the best option unless you are able to head out this month.
 

skevin

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sept/Oct 2015 - SJPP to SdC
Hello friends!

Been awhile since I’ve been on here. My question is…I am wondering if there is a helpful message board for the Kumano Kodo similar to this board? Im wanting to do that trek when Japan opens back up and this community was so helpful with my Camino I was wishing there was one for Japan as well. As always thanks for any help.

Blake
Hey Blake - I’ve walked Shikoku 88 twice ( hard recommend). Drop me a private message if you like. And yes, wish that bloody border would open!
 

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