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Starting to plan and need a guidebook to the Kumano kodo routes

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I am starting to plan one of the Kumano Kodo routes (1 week approx.) for maybe the northern autumn this year or spring in 2021. I have found the following guides and would like some help making a choice.
Hans Beumer guide
Kat Davis guide
Official guide

Best wishes
Bob M
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
None of them are really necessary. I have walked the Nakahechi and Kohechi routes just using the leaflet guides that the Kumano Travel website offer as pdf files and which you can pick up in print versions for free in Kii-Tanabe or Koyasan. Between those and the Kumano Travel website there is all the practical information that I needed.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
None of them are really necessary. I have walked the Nakahechi and Kohechi routes just using the leaflet guides that the Kumano Travel website offer as pdf files and which you can pick up in print versions for free in Kii-Tanabe or Koyasan. Between those and the Kumano Travel website there is all the practical information that I needed.
That's helpful. The main thing I need are the routes and preferably GPX files where possible so I can plan my stages.

BTW, changing the subject completely, as an antediluvian familiar with Japan you may like The Great Wave.

Bob M
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Complete map booklet links for 3 of the routes on this page. And a gpx track for the Nakahechi which is the most popular route.
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Complete map booklet links for 3 of the routes on this page. And a gpx track for the Nakahechi which is the most popular route.
Well done! The Complete Map Booklet weblink is exactly what I need. Japanese certainly know how to plan - possibly a manifestation of their desire to be helpful to pilgrims. Happy thoughts are winging your way.
Now all I need to do is (a) learn enough Japanese language and culture to be polite, and (b) practice my temple rituals. Simple!

Bob M
 
Last edited:

GingerHaddad

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2018)
I am starting to plan one of the Kumano Kodo routes (1 week approx.) for maybe the northern autumn this year or spring in 2021. I have found the following guides and would like some help making a choice.
Hans Beumer guide
Kat Davis guide
Official guide

Best wishes
Bob M
Find Kat Davis’ blog page or search for her on this forum. She wrote a very complete guidebook to that pilgrimage published by Cicerone publishers.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
I am starting to plan one of the Kumano Kodo routes (1 week approx.) for maybe the northern autumn this year or spring in 2021. I have found the following guides and would like some help making a choice.
Hans Beumer guide
Kat Davis guide
Official guide

Best wishes
Bob M
I have Kat's guidebook. I'm not an 'app' traveller/walker & still like a good ol' fashioned book. I use the paper version at home during planning & have the 'e' version on my phone for the trail.
I'm aiming to do the KK Aug/Sept 2021; not an ideal time of year but as I'll also attempt ascending Mt Fuji, my dates are based on the climbing season.
In the meantime, Israel awaits May-June... 🤗
Happy planning Bob. Will you be adding the Way of 88 Temples to your trip?
👣 🌏
 
Last edited:

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Complete map booklet links for 3 of the routes on this page. And a gpx track for the Nakahechi which is the most popular route.
Well, darn. I have to chose between reaction emojis for this post, when I just want to do this:
♥ 🙏
Wonderful. Bookmarked.
Thank you @Bradypus !
Some day this will happen for me.........
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Well, I have raised my face mask to find out if it is safe to leave my bedroom, which has been my survival ark for many days now. It looks promising! The white dove has returned safely with a worm in its mouth, so the world must be getting okay again and I can start to plan to see more of it. The Schengen Zone is reopening.

The KK maybe next year for me, alas, but Europe or even Israel is not so crazy for late this year, even if it is in late autumn or winter. I will start to work on it in a couple of weeks. The only drama for me is when the Australian government will relax mandatory quarantine requirements for incoming travellers.

Anyway, I hope you have all coped with the situation and can start to resume your own travels ASAP.

Best wishes
Bob
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Well, I have raised my face mask to find out if it is safe to leave my bedroom, which has been my survival ark for many days now. It looks promising! The white dove has returned safely with a worm in its mouth, so the world must be getting okay again and I can start to plan to see more of it. The Schengen Zone is reopening.

The KK maybe next year for me, alas, but Europe or even Israel is not so crazy for late this year, even if it is in late autumn or winter. I will start to work on it in a couple of weeks. The only drama for me is when the Australian government will relax mandatory quarantine requirements for incoming travellers.

Anyway, I hope you have all coped with the situation and can start to resume your own travels ASAP.

Best wishes
Bob
I too was hoping to go at least somewhere but current indications are the Australian Government won't open our international border for general travel this year. Apart from health issues, the idea being to encourage us to holiday (& spend...) at home to assist our economy to bounce back.
An exception may be a travel 'bubble' with New Zealand.
Of course other restrictions have eased earlier than anticipated & the same could happen with regards to international travel. If it does, I guess it will come down to how much notice we're given & how much planning we need to make for our chosen (or available!) journey.
👣 🌏
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
If the Aus/NZ bubble comes about, have a look at the Te Araroa trail. I found out about it by chance when sitting next to a Dutch guy on a flight from NZ a couple of years ago. He was a thin as a rake with a straggly beard and somewhat weather-beaten; and mentioned in passing that he had just finished the Te Araroa trail and was going home.

I had never heard of it, so we chatted and (not to be outdone;)) I casually mentioned that I had walked the Via Francigena as if it was the simplest stroll in my local park. His eyes lit up and he said "Me too!" So that flight passed in the blink of an eye as we talked about the VF as well.

For Australians, there are lots of long hikes in our country, but (unlike Europe) there are not villages every 10 km, nor cafes on every doorstep, so these hikes almost invariably involve long stages, probably with camping or organised transfers.

I am definitely suffering from cabin fever - and, no longer being a downy faced youth, it is a big deal for me if I miss one of my remaining years of big walks.

Bob M
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
If the Aus/NZ bubble comes about, have a look at the Te Araroa trail. I found out about it by chance when sitting next to a Dutch guy on a flight from NZ a couple of years ago. He was a thin as a rake with a straggly beard and somewhat weather-beaten; and mentioned in passing that he had just finished the Te Araroa trail and was going home.

I had never heard of it, so we chatted and (not to be outdone;)) I casually mentioned that I had walked the Via Francigena as if it was the simplest stroll in my local park. His eyes lit up and he said "Me too!" So that flight passed in the blink of an eye as we talked about the VF as well.

For Australians, there are lots of long hikes in our country, but (unlike Europe) there are not villages every 10 km, nor cafes on every doorstep, so these hikes almost invariably involve long stages, probably with camping or organised transfers.

I am definitely suffering from cabin fever - and, no longer being a downy faced youth, it is a big deal for me if I miss one of my remaining years of big walks.

Bob M
Yep...I hear you...I too am concerned about shunting everything back a year; so many trails, so much world, so little time...& even less time taking capability into consideration.

For me, walking in 'Straya doesn't have anywhere near the appeal; I like/need the additional levels of complexity language, culture, unknown scenery, etc brings.

The Te Araroa Trail is becoming more widely known now; small numbers (10's...if that) complete the full length each year. Too hard core for me so instead I'm currently reading 'BeWildered' by Laura Waters...the account of her journey unintentionally taken solo.
Happy trails!
👣 🌏
 

PeteD

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicigrino CF SJPdP - SdC Mar 2016
Kumano Kodo Sept 2018
VdlP (Mar 2020 X)
VdlP (Mat 2022)
For me, walking in 'Straya doesn't have anywhere near the appeal; I like/need the additional levels of complexity language, culture, unknown scenery, etc brings.
Based in Australia and having postponed this years VdlP walk to probably 2022 with the current travel restrictions and the lack of travel insurance, I'm looking for alternatives this year or next within AUS or maybe NZ if the "travel bubble" eventuates. I agree with @kazrobbo that there is a lack of long multi-day walks that equate to the experience of a camino in our part of the world. Often you can be the only group on multi-day walks and there is certainly no vino tinto and new connections at the end of the day!

Any ideas for thru hikes in AUS/NZ would be much appreciated. Top option at he moment for 2021 is two weeks on the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia. Te Araraoa is probably too big a commitment.

If travel options expand to Japan then the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage could be a possibility. And to answer @BobM original post, we did the Kumano Kodo in 2019 and found it so well supported and organised that you could do it with the information from the official website alone.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
I'm looking for alternatives this year or next within AUS or maybe NZ if the "travel bubble" eventuates. I agree with @kazrobbo that there is a lack of long multi-day walks that equate to the experience of a camino in our part of the world.
Any ideas for thru hikes in AUS/NZ would be much appreciated. Top option at he moment for 2021 is two weeks on the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia. Te Araraoa is probably too big a commitment.
Obviously there may be issues with Victoria's current Covid 19 situation, state border closures, quarantine requirements, etc but a suggestion for an Aussie multi-day thru-hike could be the 'Great Ocean Walk' in Victoria. Trail length is 104km taking about 8 days. There are different options for accommodation; camping in designated spots each night or arranging pick-up/drop-off at various points for hotels or B&B's near the trail. I haven't undertaken it myself yet but I have done the research & it's another for My List.

When we're finally able to spread our wings, I can definitely recommend the 'Way of 88 Temples' on Shikoku, Japan. I did the full walk in 2017 & it remains my favourite of all the long distance walks I've done...& I still miss Japan to this day. Can't wait to return to tackle the Kumano Kodo, an ascent of Mt Fuji & maybe the Kiso Road.
Gambatte!
👣 🌏
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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 a tip re the accommodation on the Kumano Kodo. A friend and I walked the Nakahechi route, and planned to walk the Kohechi route, last year. Someone here in Adelaide recommended the Tanabe Tourist office to book each night's accommodation. It is not like the Camino - accommodation needs to be booked for each night beforehand (well before!) and I can recommend them: -
https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/
We decided to use them as that meant we were supporting the locals - very similar to the goal of the Camino! The only difference is the price! The Nakahechi route is quite straightforward to book. It doesn't matter if you book over a period of days / weeks. However the Kohechi route is not so simple. When I booked that route I planned to wait till a cheaper option was available for one particular place, but they refused to book the three nights until I had the fourth one as well - the reason is for safety in the mountains. Compared to what the Camino was like (pre Covid) the Kumano Kodo is quiet, with many Australians on it. Accommodation is very limited which is why it needs to be booked in advance.

The Nakahechi route is hard, but doable. The Kohechi is much harder, very steep. Indeed you will note that I said earlier in this post that we PLANNED to walk the Kohechi. Unfortunately we didn't. I had a sore knee and decided not to walk the first day, and Neil walked on his own. I was just about to go out and photograph him crossing the swing bridge when there was a knock on the door - is was the police. Neil was a kilometre from the end when he slipped and fell down the mountain and was rescued by these people - the firies took him out to the road, the ambulance and police to the hotel. We were then flown out (25 mins) by helicopter to the hospital minus our luggage. After managing to reunite with our packs, flights were changed, and we came home a few days later - Neil with 6 stitches in his head, 4 cracked ribs, and 4 cracked vertebrae, and feeling very sore.

We did achieve what we set out to do, we registered as a a dual pilgrims.

If you PM me I can let you know the places we stayed in. I am more than happy to chat on the phone too.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
Just a tip re the accommodation on the Kumano Kodo. A friend and I walked the Nakahechi route, and planned to walk the Kohechi route, last year. Someone here in Adelaide recommended the Tanabe Tourist office to book each night's accommodation. It is not like the Camino - accommodation needs to be booked for each night beforehand (well before!) and I can recommend them: -
https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/kumano-kodo/
We decided to use them as that meant we were supporting the locals - very similar to the goal of the Camino! The only difference is the price! The Nakahechi route is quite straightforward to book. It doesn't matter if you book over a period of days / weeks. However the Kohechi route is not so simple. When I booked that route I planned to wait till a cheaper option was available for one particular place, but they refused to book the three nights until I had the fourth one as well - the reason is for safety in the mountains. Compared to what the Camino was like (pre Covid) the Kumano Kodo is quiet, with many Australians on it. Accommodation is very limited which is why it needs to be booked in advance.

The Nakahechi route is hard, but doable. The Kohechi is much harder, very steep. Indeed you will note that I said earlier in this post that we PLANNED to walk the Kohechi. Unfortunately we didn't. I had a sore knee and decided not to walk the first day, and Neil walked on his own. I was just about to go out and photograph him crossing the swing bridge when there was a knock on the door - is was the police. Neil was a kilometre from the end when he slipped and fell down the mountain and was rescued by these people - the firies took him out to the road, the ambulance and police to the hotel. We were then flown out (25 mins) by helicopter to the hospital minus our luggage. After managing to reunite with our packs, flights were changed, and we came home a few days later - Neil with 6 stitches in his head, 4 cracked ribs, and 4 cracked vertebrae, and feeling very sore.

We did achieve what we set out to do, we registered as a a dual pilgrims.

If you PM me I can let you know the places we stayed in. I am more than happy to chat on the phone too.
Oh my...another cautionary tale!
Did you have any hassles with your travel insurance claim? 🤕
I trust (& hope...) Neil fully recovered & has not been deterred from taking on future trails once our freedom of movement is reinstated. 😷
👣 🌏
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
I walked in March 2018.
I ordered the guide from https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/ and found it most useful.
I arranged my accommodations and bag transport along the route through the same website.
It was somewhat confusing back then, but the website now looks much easier to negotiate and it seems there are many more accommodation options available.
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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)
I trust (& hope...) Neil fully recovered
Yes he has recovered well, and no - as the treasurer of the Australian Friends of the Camino, he, like me would find it hard to give such journeys up!

With regard to travel insurance. We both had insurance, but I actually didn't use mine. His insurance (with a Visa card on ticket purchase, mine with a separate insurance company) covered me to escort him back. I was grateful as that meant I didn't have to fill out the forms! Should anyone find themselves in this position a handy tip is to request a wheelchair. Neil could walk small distances but on the advice of the insurance people we requested wheelchair access. This meant we sailed through all the border entries, and were even escorted to the transit hotel in Hong Kong. Made life very easy in a hard situation.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012
CP 2015
St Olavs Norway 2016
88T Japan 2017
PWC/VF 2019
Israel 2020 X
Wales CP 21?
KK?
VdlP?
I walked in March 2018.
I ordered the guide from https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/ and found it most useful.
I arranged my accommodations and bag transport along the route through the same website.
It was somewhat confusing back then, but the website now looks much easier to negotiate and it seems there are many more accommodation options available.
I tried to order the information pack & guide some months ago. Not being able to travel, I thought I'd at least research/plan/dream but no such luck! I received an email saying the Japanese government had banned international mail packages to some countries (incl Australia) for the duration of the pandemic. Tanabe/Kumano Travel will notify me once the ban is lifted so I can re-order.
Some Forum members have said the guidebook is not necessary & you can do the trails without it, but I still like a book...especially in the planning stages & as a reference during or souvenir after the walk.
How much use did you get from your guidebook? I also have the late Kat Davis Cicerone KK guide.
👣 🌏
 

PeteD

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicigrino CF SJPdP - SdC Mar 2016
Kumano Kodo Sept 2018
VdlP (Mar 2020 X)
VdlP (Mat 2022)
How much use did you get from your guidebook?
The route maps from the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau are extremely comprehensive (32 A5 pages). I think this is sent to you as part of booking accommodation, meals and transfers. There is some more detail provided in the Official Guide covering specific temples and spots along the trail. Mainly we used the route map and read ahead from the Guide each night.
Amazed that the accommodation and meals are at a much higher standard ( and cost) than what we experience in Spain, and the care and service is impressive.
The dual pilgrim certificate is worth getting if only for the friendly and genuinely warm 'ceremony' of receiving this at the tourist centre where you finish. Can't wait to go back for a longer pilgrimage in beautiful Japan.
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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)
Over coffee this morning Neil reminded me to let you know that the Kohechi path is definitely a grade 5! I might add, as are parts of the Nakahechi, due to the narrow uneven path, steep and uneven steps and slippery stone paths.
1594006637659.png 1594006696734.png 1594007141858.png

1594006744166.png

Above is a narrow path on the Nakahechi route - a highway compared to the Kohechi. I would recommend that you always stand on the top side of the path should pilgrims be coming towards you or wanting to pass from behind! You can see you steeply it drops away. By comparison below are three of Neil's photos on the Kohechi route - even more narrow! Note the safety rope on the first photo.

1594006962059.png 1594006986609.png 1594007061561.png
 

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