Japan's Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage

The UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo trails traverse the rugged mountains of the Kii Peninsula, due south of Kyoto on Japan's main island of Honshu. Originally ancient pilgrimage routes centred on three Shinto-Buddhist shrines known as the Kumano Sanzan, this network of trails is becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors, drawn by the promise of stunning scenery, rich history and a unique insight into Japanese culture and spirituality. This guide details the 64km Nakahechi, 63km Kohechi and 20km Koyasan variants, as well as highlights of the Iseji route and shorter walks around the three grand shrines.

The guide can be used to plan and undertake an independent trek or to enrich an organised tour. The comprehensive route description includes notes on facilities and local points of interest and is illustrated with clear mapping and beautiful colour photos. You'll also find a wealth of practical advice covering transport, climate, accommodation, budgeting, equipment, safety and cultural etiquette, as well as fascinating background information on history, religion and wildlife. Facilities tables, useful contacts and a glossary are provided in the appendices.

The Kumano Kodo offers a different view of Japan: far removed from the modern cities, this is a world of forested slopes, hidden valleys, waterfalls and traditional villages. There are opportunities to experience hot-spring bathing and to sample local cuisine as you follow in the footsteps of emperors, samurai, priests and ascetics. In 1998 the Kumano Kodo was twinned with the Camino de Santiago and walkers who complete both can register as 'dual pilgrims'.


Originally from Melbourne, after graduating from university, Katrina Davis moved to Japan. Working as an adventure tour guide in Japan helped Kat develop her skills to seek out the local hotspots and also develop a love for hiking. ‘A wise man climbs Mt Fuji, a fool climbs it twice’ is a popular Japanese saying, so Kat climbed it 7 times. From Japan to Canada to London where Kat is now based, she quit her office job in 2013 to walk the Camino de Santiago and has never looked back. She has since completed seven Caminos and walked over 10,000km in Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, Japan and America, including the 4240km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.

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