Call us: +44(0)1453 844400Email us: info@mountainkingdoms.com

Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A local, English speaking, Japanese guide,
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK (flight inclusive option). If you are travelling land only, check with our office for joining time at the airport
  • Airport transfers (to fit with the Mountain Kingdoms group flights)
  • All baggage transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by train, bus and private vehicles
  • Sightseeing as specified
  • Good standard accommodation in a variety of accommodation styles
  • Activities as specified
  • The option of joining one of our three pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trek

Walking & Trekking

Japan | Walking & Trekking

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trek
Moderate

Suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Moderate ? Moderate
Duration:  13 days from the UK  
On trek: 4 days
Walks on: 4 days

Flight inclusive from £4,290,
Land only from £3,495

Book now or call 01453 844400

Step back in time and trek along ancient pilgrimage trails in the footsteps of the Japanese emperors.

Highlights

  • Trek on ancient pilgrimage trails that now form a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Enjoy beautiful and varied scenery from coast to country to high mountains
  • Experience traditional Japanese accommodation including a Buddhist temple
  • Explore cultural Kyoto and historic Mount Koya

Reviews          

Staying in Ryokan, Minshuku and Temples was a definite plus as it enabled us to experience the traditional side of Japan.
Miss W, Harrow

As ever the trip was very well planned and researched. The balance between trekking and culture was excellent. The opportunity to stay in traditional Japanese inns and the food they provided was a highlight. Our guide, Yumi, was exceptional. She combined trek leading with information about Japanese history and culture superbly - from past experience we know this is a very difficult balance. In...
Mr T, Buckinghamshire

We can honestly say that our Kumano Kodo holiday has been one of the best in our lives and we enjoyed every minute of our amazing trip. We particularly enjoyed the combination of nature, exercise and culture. We are grateful for the variety of places to stay, from Japanese B&B to large modern hotels to monastery lodgings. And we would like to mention that the trip would not have been the same...
Mr V Korolev, Berkshire

View All

We begin our immersive journey in Kyoto before travelling on to the remote Kii peninsula to trek along a network of ancient, sacred paths that thread their way through impressive mountain scenery. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient trails of the Kumano Kodo were once walked by pilgrims, noblemen and even emperors and offer wonderfully varied trekking. Led by an expert local guide, our route takes us from picturesque coastline, through cool cedar forests and across high, mountain passes with expansive views.

Each evening, we stay in ryokan or minshuku and experience life as it was in centuries past - sampling fresh, regional cuisine, relaxing in hot stone baths and enjoying the tranquillity of traditional rural life.

At the end of our trek we travel to Mount Koya where we stay in a Buddhist temple and hike the Choishi-Michi Trail before finally returning to Kyoto and a taste of modern-day Japanese life.


At a glance

Grade: Moderate
Moderate

Duration:  13 days from the UK  
On trek: 4 days
Walks on: 4 days

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Kyoto

Accommodation types: Hotels, Ryokan/minshuku, Temple

Meal arrangements: 11 Breakfasts, 10 Dinners. Your guide will help you organise your lunches, which might be picnics or taken in local restaurants or cafes.

Itinerary overview
DayActivity
1-2
Arrive Osaka airport. Transfer to Kyoto, welcome dinner.
3
Transfer to the Kii Peninsula.
4-5
Trek to Chikatsuyu - 9.5 miles, 6-7 hours. Trek to the Grand Shrine at Hongu - 13 miles, 7-8 hours.
6-7
Trek from Ukegawa to Koguchi - 8 miles, 4-5 hours. Trek to Nachi Grand Shrine - 9 miles, 6 hours.
8-9
Coastal walk or relax at hot springs. Transfer to Mount Koya, afternoon walk.
10
Walk the Choisi-Michi - 10 miles, 4 hours.
11
Transfer to Kyoto. Fushimi Inari walk - 3 miles.
12-13
Sightseeing and time at leisure in Kyoto. Farewell dinner. Fly to London.
Leader: Local Leader, Japan
Local Leader, Japan

Your trip will be led by an English-speaking Japanese guide. They are all highly experienced, and will greatly enhance your experience on holiday. They will both guide you on the trail, and accompany you on all train and road journeys.


  1. Day 1 - Fly London to Osaka

    Fly on an overnight flight from London to Osaka.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Osaka airport. Transfer to Kyoto, welcome dinner.

    The group flight will be met on arrival at Kansai airport, Osaka. It is about a two hour drive to the centre of Kyoto and your hotel for the night. You are free to start exploring Kyoto, or to relax in the hotel until the evening when your guide will take you to a nearby local restaurant for a welcome dinner.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo or Similar
  3. Day 3 - Transfer to the Kii Peninsula.

    Today you travel south by train from Kyoto along the coast to Tanabe on the Kii peninsula. Your guide will expertly lead you on Japanese public transport, which is superbly run with amazingly clean trains that all run on time! The journey takes about 3 hours. The Kii peninsula has long been considered sacred in Japan as the entrance to the land of Yomi, the mythical underworld. It is also the site of the Three Sacred Shrines of Kumano - the 'Kumano Sanzan'. Tonight you stay in a simple minshuku. Your luggage will be sent by courier to Yunomine, allowing you to travel with just a light rucksack with overnight essentials.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Minshuku
  4. Day 4 - Trek to Chikatsuyu - 9.5 miles, 6-7 hours.

    Starting from Takijiri today, you trek eastwards along the Nakahechi pilgrimage trail. Initially there is a climb to reach the small village of Takahara but the path is well defined as you continue from there along the pilgrimage trail. Flagstones have been placed in some areas to make the path easier. Although rarely seen these days, there are small bears in the Kumano mountains, and more commonly deer and wild boar. Along the route you will pass small bodhisattva statues places by locals to protect travellers. There are also the sites of old tea-houses which provided places of rest for pilgrims right up to the early 20th century.

    Depending on the availability of accommodation, you may end the day walking for a further 40 minutes beyond Chikatsuyu to the village of Nanaka Sanso which is situated close to a picturesque river on the Kumano Kodo trail.

    845m/2,775ft ascent, 678m/2,225ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Minshuku
  5. Day 5 - Trek from Chikatsuyu to the Grand Shrine at Hongu - 13 miles, 7-8 hours.

    The route today passes several ridge-top villages and oji shrines. Nobles would rest at these sub-shrines to refresh themselves and compose poems, and their poetry is engraved on stone monuments sited along the path. You will walk first to Kobiro and then on to Hongu Grand Shrine. At the heart of these sacred mountains, Kumano was said to be the entrance to the land of Yomi, the 'other world' to where spirits travelled in Japanese mythology. The classic style of architecture of the Kumano Hongu Shrine blends perfectly with the surrounding mountains and forests. The shrine uses a mythological three-legged raven symbol, representing the Hongu, Nachi, and Hayatama shrines - the same motif as the one used by the Japan Football team.

    After visiting the shrine you will travel by local bus to the Yunomine Hot Spring, one of the oldest in Japan. This is also your accommodation for the night and the comfortable Ryokan has its own rock-built outdoor hot spring bath, or rotemburo, and is the ideal place to relax after your walk. Your luggage sent from Kyoto will be waiting for you here.

    762m/2,500ft ascent, 1,140m/3,740ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Minshuku
  6. Day 6 - Trek from Ukegawa to Koguchi - 8 miles, 4-5 hours.

    Your luggage will be sent ahead from here to Kii Katsuura. There is a short bus transfer this morning to Ukegawa on the banks of the Kumano river. From here you start the Kogumotorigoe path, which heads gently up towards the pass at 470m/1,542ft. There are some lovely views from the ridge before you descend to the remote village of Koguchi. There should be time in the afternoon to explore along the river and possibly swim if the weather is warm.

    520m/1,705ft ascent, 500m/1,640ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Minshuku
  7. Day 7 - Trek from Koguchi to Nachi Grand Shrine - 9 miles, 6 hours.

    Today is the final section of the Nakahechi trail, with a long morning climb to the Ogumotorigoe Pass at 870m/2,854ft. You may well be able to see the Pacific ocean from here before descending to the Nachi-taki waterfall and the Grand Shrine, one of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. There will be plenty of time to explore the area, and admire the highest waterfall in Japan.

    980m/3,215ft ascent, 921m/3,020ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Minshuku
  8. Day 8 - Coastal walk - 4.1miles, 3 hours. Or relax at hot springs.

    You will make the short road transfer to the coast to enjoy a scenic walk and explore of the fishing port of Katsuura. Pilgrims travelled down the eastern coast of the Kii Peninsula to travel between the Kumano Sanzan - or the three Grand Shrines of Kumano Kodo - and Ise. Ise shrine is also considered to be one of Japan's pre-eminent shrines and itself a focus of pilgrimage. While the trail has been around for over 1000 years, its popularity surged in the 15th century as an increasing number of pilgrims would combine visits to both of these holy and revered regions. You will walk a short portion of this 170 km coastal route. For those who prefer to relax, time can be spent at your hotel. Set In the middle of the bay is a private island, which is where you will be staying the night. The hotel - which has a modern, western style exterior and wholly Japanese interior - has a hot spring and is a great place to relax after completing the pilgrimage walk. Your luggage will be waiting for you here.

    546m/1,790ft ascent, 539m/1,768ft descent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hot Springs Hotel
  9. Day 9 - Transfer to Mount Koya, afternoon walk.

    Your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto. You will transfer by train and cable car today to Mount Koya. Situated in a bowl shaped valley covered in giant cedar trees, Mount Koya is situated 900m/2,970ft high in the mountains of the Kii peninsula. Since the 9th century when the priest Kukai (also known as Kobo Dashi) founded the first temple and the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Koya-san has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. There are now over 100 monasteries, and you will be staying in one of them. You will visit the 16th century Kongo-buji temple complex which is the head temple of Shingon Buddhism.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Ekoin Temple or Similar
  10. Day 10 - Walk the Choisi-Michi - 10 miles, 4 hours.

    The traditional approach to Mount Koya, used by both monks and pilgrims, was the Choishi-michi. The route takes its name from the five-tiered stone stupas that line the route. Each of the five tiers represents one of the five principle elements of the Buddhist universe -fire, earth, water, metal and wood - and were placed there to show pilgrims the way. The hiking trail ends at the Daimon Gate, a two storey tall, crimson gate that marks the traditional entrance to Koyasan.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Ekoin Temple or Similar
  11. Day 11 - Transfer to Kyoto. Fushimi Inari walk - 3 miles.

    Your day begins with a guided walk around the vast Okuno-in cemetery, set amongst the cedar trees and with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and past luminaries. After the tour you leave behind the tranquillity of Mount Koya and head to the cultural city of Kyoto. In the afternoon you will visit the Fushimi Inari shrine and climb to the top. Fushimi Inari is an important Shinto shrine dedicated to the god of rice, it is renowned for its myriad of vermillion Torii, or gates, that create a vivid impression as they snake their way along and up the hillside. Your luggage will be waiting for you here.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo or Similar
  12. Day 12 - Morning - sightseeing in Kyoto. Afternoon - at leisure. Farewell dinner.

    This morning you will visit the Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji. Known for its dazzling gold-leafed exterior, it was originally built for Ashikaga Shogun in the 15th century as a place of contemplation and rest. You will also visit the Nijo Castle, orginially the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shonguns in the 17th century. Built in the 'momoyama' style, the wooden floors creak when walked on, apparently a security measure against intruders.

    In the afternoon you are free to explore further or to go shopping. Nishikikoji Market is a great place to get an idea of the incredible diversity of food in Japan. You can also see related businesses such as the Aritsugu knife shop where they sell a wide range of top quality Japanese kitchen knives and other utensils. Nearby are some department stores and other interesting shops which you may like to visit. Shopping culture in Japan has, like everything else they do, been taken to impressive heights.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo or Similar
  13. Day 13 - Fly to London.

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London. Arrive the same day.

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2018

DatesAvailabilityLand OnlyFlight Inclusive from
Sat 12 May - Thu 24 May 2018Available£3495 Book£4290 Book
Sat 22 Sep - Thu 4 Oct 2018Guaranteed£3495 Book£4345 Book
Sat 13 Oct - Thu 25 Oct 2018Available£3495 BookContact us
Thu 29 Nov - Tue 11 Dec 2018Available£3495 BookContact us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
Optional supplements
  • Single Room Supplement - Hotels
    From £510
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £114
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • A local, English speaking, Japanese guide,
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK (flight inclusive option). If you are travelling land only, check with our office for joining time at the airport
  • Airport transfers (to fit with the Mountain Kingdoms group flights)
  • All baggage transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by train, bus and private vehicles
  • Sightseeing as specified
  • Good standard accommodation in a variety of accommodation styles
  • Activities as specified
  • The option of joining one of our three pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms micro fleece

What’s not included

  • Lunches and one dinner
  • Travel insurance
  • Locally paid bar bills and laundry
  • Optional activities
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 8 reviews)

Changed our view of Japan          

We had never really considered Japan as a destination, but this was one of the best. Whilst it was hot and humid, the trekking was excellent, being mostly in shady pine forests. Some of the days are quite strenuous with over 1200m of ascent, but in a fantastic environment with some amazing views. The traditional Japanese accommodation is excellent and varied with beautifully prepared fresh food each meal. The hot springs and communal baths are very welcome at the end of a hard days walking.We were lucky to have the most fantastic guide, Yumiko, who was able to manage the walking for a disparate group, providing alternative transport or activities for those who were unable or chose not to walk. She also provided an interesting and engaging introduction to Japanese culture and history.Compared to some of the other trekking destinations, the public transport is so efficient and comfortable; everywhere is clean. We'll definitely want to go back!

Superb immersion into Japanese culture and philosophy          

A gifted leader, Yumi, was engaging and informative throughout, true professional. Exceptional input, attention to detail and lots of fun. Great walking, good places to visit and stay, very good all through and such a fantastic country.

Kumano Kodo trek          

We were well looked after.

Kumano Kodo trek, Japan          

As ever the trip was very well planned and researched. The balance between trekking and culture was excellent. The opportunity to stay in traditional Japanese inns and the food they provided was a highlight.Our guide, Yumi, was exceptional. She combined trek leading with information about Japanese history and culture superbly - from past experience we know this is a very difficult balance. In addition her organisation and people management were first class, in sometimes difficult circumstances and always with charm and a smile.

One of the best holidays in our lives          

We can honestly say that our Kumano Kodo holiday (2017) has been one of the best in our lives and we enjoyed every minute of our amazing trip.We particularly enjoyed the combination of nature, exercise and culture. We are grateful for the variety of places to stay, from Japanese B&B to large modern hotels to monastery lodgings. We believe that this smart choice of venues to visit and places to stay gave us a unique opportunity to learn about and appreciate the Japanese way of life.And we would like to mention that the trip would not have been the same without our amazing guide, Yumiko. Her attitude to her role has been fantastic. Everything had been organised perfectly and we always knew what to expect.Yumi’s knowledge of Japanese culture and history is superb and she is one of the main reasons why every one of us fell in love with Japan. Yumi went way over and above her duties to make the trip special and memorable for everyone in our diverse group. On several occasions, she even organised an alternative transportation for people who needed to take an easier route. Two people in a group had their birthday during the walk and Yumi had thrown us a surprise party that we would remember forever.We would like to thank the Mountain Kingdom for this amazing holiday and would not hesitate to recommend the agency to all our friends, and our special thanks go to our beloved guide, Yumiko-san.


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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