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Goin’ Japanesque!

Kumano Kodo: Mystic Ancient Trails Where You can Synchronize with the Ancient Past

Remember the Nachi Waterfall we introduced to you before? What we would like to show you in this article is a great route that you should definitely take when you go on a walking tour to visit the waterfall. Taking a walk along the route, you will surely love the experience of Japan sightseeing in its most genuine essence.

 

Kumano Kodo

熊野古道

“Kumano Kodo” collectively refers to the pilgrimage routes in Wakayama Prefecture. They lead to either of three shrines including Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine, which is the parent shrine of Nachi Waterfall, and stretch as far as to the prefectures of Mie, Nara and Osaka. They have been used as pilgrimage routes since a very long time ago and were even mentioned in Japan’s oldest literature (Nihon Shoki). One of the routes also leads to Ise Jingu (Grand) Shrine, Japan’s most famous shrine.

Kumano Kodo, along with Nachi Waterfall, is registered as a world heritage site as part of “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in The Kii Mountain Range.” These famous ancient old trails have a very mystic atmosphere and attract a lot of tourists both from within and outside Japan.

 

Recommended Route of Kumano Kodo

From among many routes of Kumano Kodo, we have picked up one of them for you. It is a relatively easy route recommendable for beginners and perfect for sightseeing.

  • The Route Overview: Furikase Bridge –> Meoto Sugi (Cedar Trees) –> Daimonzaka –> Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine –> Seiganto Temple –> Nachi Waterfall
  • Distance: About 2.5 km   Travelling Time: 1-2 Hours

Travelling along this route to finally get to Nachi Waterfall, you will surely have a maximum sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

 

1. Furikase Bridge

振ヶ瀬橋

kumano-kodo-furikasebashi-bridge
https://www.flickr.com

The impressively vermillion-colored bridge seen through the shrine gate on the photo is Furikase Bridge. The bridge is believed to divide “the sacred world” from “the profane world.” So it makes a perfect starting point for your venture into another world!

 

2. Meoto Sugi (Huge Cedar Trees)

夫婦杉

kumano-kodo-meotosugi-cedar
https://www.flickr.com

The first thing you will come across in your journey into another world is a pair of huge cedar trees (Meoto means husband and wife). The pair of these monstrous trees both have a trunk girth of over 8 meters and a height of over 55 meters, and aged as old as 800 years. They are too huge to be captured in any camera frame but surely make a great photo opportunity. So make sure to check out. These trees together appear to stand as another gate to the world of Kumano Kodo.

kumano-kodo-heian-costume
Heian Style Costume, http://omoshiro1182.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

At Daimonzaka Chaya located in front of Meoto Sugi trees, you can rent a Heian (Japanese ancient) style costume. Many Japanese people rent and change into those costumes here when they go on a walking tour. So do not hesitate to try it yourself and make your experience here even more fun and unforgettable!

 

3. Daimonzaka

大門坂

kumano-kodo-daimonzaka2
https://www.flickr.com

Especially among other spots of Kumano Kodo, Daimonzaka beautifully retains the atmosphere of ancient times. Lined up by 800+ year old cedar trees on both sides, the moss-covered stone pavement road stretches for about 600 meters. The path along the road is filled with cool air even in the middle of summer and so atmospheric that you may feel like you can hear the voices of ancient pilgrims.

 

4. Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine

熊野那智大社

kumano-nachi-taisha
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/ueharahrk

When you get through Daimonzaka, you will see stone stairways, up above which is a giant shrine gate. It is the gate to Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine, located near the foot of Nachi Waterfall. Hang in there! You have almost made it to the goal!

 

5. Seiganto Temple and Nachi Waterfall

青岸渡寺、那智の滝

seigantoji-temple
Three-Storied Pagoda of Seiganto Temple and Nachi Waterfall, https://www.flickr.com

You’ve finally made it! It’s the goooooooooal! Adjacent to Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine is Seiganto Temple with Nachi Waterfall, Japan’s tallest fall, in the background. You haven’t forgotten the two great photo points we told you about in the previous article, have you?

The two great photo points: Japan’s Tallest Nachi Waterfall! The World Heritage Site in Wakayama Prefecture

 

The great thing is that every important spot you come across along the beginner route of Kumano Kodo we have seen here is registered as world heritages. It is a route with such a long history that you cannot imagine how many people, to date, have gone through the pilgrimage route. While feeling the wonder of great nature in your bones, you might also be able to communicate with the spirit of ancient pilgrims. You can also feel the great sense of accomplishment and rejuvenation when you reach the destination. We can recommend you this great tourist spot with absolute confidence!

*Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy and comfortable shoes that are easy to move around in for the walking tour.

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