Practice like a monk, most joyful hiking Xperience in Japan
Jan 30, 2015
Maybe you heard Kumano Kodo. It relates to the hiking paths around Wakayama, Nara and Mie. In this region, there are plenty of trees and rivers. The nature resource is perfect. So 1200 years ago, one of the biggest temple was built in Mt. Koyasan, somehow center of this area. Also the famous Three Grand Shrines of Kumano is here. Kumano kodo is the old paths to reach these shrines. You need to climb big mountain with narrow and steep roads. It will train both your spirit and body.
(Updated on: Jan 30, 2015)
Here I introduce you my experience for one of these paths with my best friend. My destination is Kumano Hongu, the main shrine of these Three Grand Shrines. My start point is Gojo, where the end of JR railway is. Note that there is no railway in this region. Instead, there is the regular bus. 'regular bus' means not the express bus.This map show you my path. I took the bus from Gojo to Totsukawa and stayed there one night. Next day, I hiked from Totsukawa to Kumano Hongu along Kumano Kodo.
Let talk about the bus. At JR Gojo station, there are two bus stops at different exit of station, which you need to really take care. I almost missed the bus! I suggest you to ask the staff in JR station in advance. Once you get on the bus, you need to take a paper with number at the entrance and check how much you should pay on the screen. This pic shows the price. Amazing, 4050 yen for a regular bus? Yes, it is the longest journey for a regular bus in Japan.
From Gojo to Totsukawa, sometimes you need to change vehicle, but you only need to pay the money at the end. Theoretically it is still one vehicle! Once the bus reached 谷瀬の吊り橋, bus will stop there for ~20mins. You can take pic and experience this bridge.
We stoped in totsukawa, it is a small village inside mountain and along the river. The beautiful thing is that in the morning of second day, I was waken up by the sing of all kinds of birds, really really special memory! Definitely they have nice Onsen and you can appreciate the great view at the same time.
Before I left the hotel, I was told that the hiking path from totsukawa to Kumano Hongu will take only 5 hrs. Actually it took 10hrs for us. I think it will be normal for general people at the first time. As you see, here is the entrance, we need to hike with such narrow road! just one people at one time and the road is inside the trees. We found three snakes in our journey!
After 3 hrs hiking without knowing how long it will take in the future, we are little bit worried. But once we found this, we are re-charged!
After several, several hours, we reached the boundary of Wakayam Prefecture and Nara Prefecture. It was close to our destination! My important experience is never try this hiking when it rains. We were lucky, we climbed down the mountain before it rained. And you need prepare good shoes. The road is so dangerous, not to scare you, do not bring child there. I think probably this was the only time I went there. I didn't show you the dangerous part because it was too dangerous to take photo.
I need to tell you that we actually missed the path and we crossed a village, real village with farmer and farmland. And walked along the tunnels for cars. Finally we got here. It is a World Heritage. The World Heritage is not for single shrine, it is for the experience to hike and then visit the shrines. As I understand, the purpose is to let you experience the word ‘霊’， little mystery and religious. Through this, you will find your soul and find the meaning of yourself and the world.
Original Kumano Hongu is close to Kumano river. Since Kumano river has plenty of water. Its flood destroyed Kumano Hongu several times. So finally people moved Kumano Hongu to the higher place. And there is giant Torii of new Kumano Hongu, maybe the highest in Japan. Still people remain the origin Kumano Hongu.