Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

“A nine day self-guided walking holiday on the Kumano Kodo trail, with five full days of hiking on the trail itself. Staying at traditional inns along the way”


Kyoto | Guided tour guide in Kyoto | Kiyomizu and Sanjusangendo Temples | Philosopher's path | Train journey along Kii Peninsula | Takahara | Nakaheji | National Historic Road | Chikatsuyu | Yunomine | Kumano Shrine | Koguchi | Nachi waterfall | Nachi Shrine

Description of Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

The Kumano Kodo Trail is an iconic long distance walking trail in Japan, where you follow in the footsteps of pilgrims and nobility from the 11th century, as they travelled from Kyoto to the three great shrines of Kumano, scattered along the Kii Peninsula and through the Kii Mountains. This is the largest peninsula on the island of Honshu, and the Kumano Kodo trail is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Divided into three sub routes, Kiji, Kohechi and Iseji most people take on different sections.

This self guided walking holiday is an itinerary of five full days of walking on the Trail itself, with some fairly strenuous treks between four to eight hours of walking per day. Although this is a very well marked way, so in terms of logistics for self guided walking, it is very easy. Plus our itineraries are flexible, of course. Whichever routes you take, you will enjoy hiking through ancient bamboo forests, mist covered mountain terrain, staying at traditional ryokan inns, bathing in hot spring baths, and of course taking time out at serene and sacred temples.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:The trip starts in Kyoto, where you check into your hotel in the city centre.
Day 2:Although self guided, we provide a guide to show you all the best bits of Kyoto, as it is so packed with cultural gems it is sometimes hard to know where to start. Suggested highlights include Kiyomizu and Sanjusangendo Temples, as well as a stroll along the Philosopher's path, a cherry tree lined canal.
Day 3:Taking the train along the Kii Peninsula as far as Tanabe and then a short bus journey to Takijiri , this is your first day hiking on the Kumano Kodo Trail. Take a stunning two hour hike up to Takahara, a remote mountain village where you stay in traditional ryokan inn, with panoramic views over the Kii Mountains.
Day 4:Still walking on the Kumano Kodo Trail, you take on Nakaheji path, recognised officially as a National Historic Road. After four to five hours of walking, you arrive at Chikatsuyu, where you spend the night at a family guesthouse, or minshuku, with a hot spring bath. And great food, prepared by the family.
Day 5:Your third day on the Kumano Kodo Trail takes you through the Kii range on one of our longer hikes, approximately eight hours long and covering 20km. Part of today’s trek is to one of the Trail’s treasures, the Hongu Grand Shrine, which you reach after hiking through wonderfully atmospheric forests and remote villages. Kumano, in Japanese myth, is believed to be the portal to Yomi, or ‘the spiritual other world’. Back to reality, you take a quick bus journey to Yunomine, where its hot spring onsen baths overlooking the mountains are the perfect treats after a day on the hills. As is the ryokan you will stay in here.
Day 6:Day four on the trail is not such a long walk, about four hours to Koguchi village, where a riverside ryokan awaits, as does the proverbial and now habitual Japanese bath.
Day 7:Your last day on the Kumano Trail is a good length, about six hours of hiking between Koguchi to Nachi, over the over the O-kumotori mountain pass. As well as the reward of the Nachi Grand Shrine at the end, you can also visit the Nachi waterfall, the highest in Japan. Quite a finale. Stay in a local minshuku accommodation tonight.
Day 8:Your hiking is not quite over yet, with one last walk from Nachi out towards the coast, to pick up a train back to Osaka. Known as the foodie capital of Japan, you have ripe pickings for a final meal to celebrate your walking achievements.
Day 9:End of trip, flying out of Kansai airport, or we are happy to help extend your trip to other places in Japan.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan


1. Protection of Local environment
You will experience the ‘satoyama’ landscape of rural Japan, the border area between arable flat land where rice is grown, and the mountains. Managed sustainably over centuries, it is biologically diverse and supports a wide variety of wildlife. The presence of small-scale tourism in Kumano region has encouraged the conservation of these areas, and discouraged the development of golf-courses and other projects which have negative effects on the local biodiversity. We support conservation through the Nature Conservancy Council of Japan.

2. Wild life
We respect wildlife by avoiding quick movements, loud noises, getting too close and feeding animals.We help with the preservation of local culture by educating visitors about local traditions and crafts, and making the history and culture a central theme of their visit.

3. Waste
We follow the principles of ‘Leave no Trace’ on our walking tours. We do not leave behind any waste on our tours. On our walking tours we dispose of all waste properly to avoid contamination of water sources. We avoid as much the use of paper, and do as much of our marketing as possible on-line, using internet fax and avoid printing out paper. When we do print we use double side as much as possible.

4. Transport
We organize the trips to use local public transport as much as possible where this is an option, lessening the environmental impact of extra vehicles on small country roads. We encourage our employees to walk/bike to the office.


1. A fair deal
We work only with small local businesses rather than international chains, and where possible we source goods and supplies locally, using only small, locally-owned and run accommodation and restaurants. This ensures that as much as possible of the money remains within the local economy. We promote travels to often visit the lesser-known (but equally enchanting) areas of the countries we visit, and this helps to spread the economic benefit of tourism more evenly.

You will be staying at these traditional houses, some over 200 years old. They are owned and run by several generations of one family, and all income from visitors stays in the village and brings the benefit of jobs for the younger generation. Your food will be prepared from locally-sourced fish, meat, and vegetables. Many owners also grow their own vegetables and rice. We support The Japan National Trust which helps protect the traditional buildings of rural Japan.

We believe that small group tourism encourages young people who would otherwise leave to find work in the cities to stay and start small-scale sustainable enterprises that cater to visitors. We try to avoid the destinations that cater to mass-market tourism, taking our guest to the lesser-known but if not more rewarding places that larger tour companies tend to avoid due to their unsuitability for large groups. This means our clients money will end up in small community that may have little in the way of work for its young people.

2. Local Crafts & Culture
To offer unique, engaging and educative tours which take visitors to lesser-known countries and regions, and introduce them to the culture, history and traditions of the people who live there. We provide cultural classes which help spread and preserve the culture, knowledge and traditions of the locals. We also encourage our tour leaders to have a deep knowledge of the local people and culture. They have often lived and worked locally for many years. By travelling the quieter backroads and encouraging personal contact with the local people, we reveal a side of these countries that most visitors never see.

3 Reviews of Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 22 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The friendliness and welcome feeling Japan gives

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do your research

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Reviewed on 22 Apr 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Staying in small guesthouses in small towns was very memorable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a good way, to experience a bit more of the

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Do it! This was a great trip. Although I would book early if you want to be able to stay in the locations where the walks usually end. Because of our late booking we often had to make our way to another town for the night (although I give them credit for finding us place just a few weeks ahead of time).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, there was definitely a small amount of impact I feel. A well developed trail but very clean and easy. All lodging was with small family run place and felt

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a great trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a walking holiday on their own time. We did find that we were slower than the
anticipated times when walking, but suspect that some of that was because we took our time when we knew we had a short day. Make sure that you are ready
for a lot of uphill walking Koguchi to Nachi-san.

Reviewed on 24 Nov 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of it was good. The highlight might have been the first sight of the Golden Temple in Kyoto, or the first proper Japanese meal.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

As it is primarily a walking holiday through woods, I would recommend one takes good walking boots and a stick.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Mainly staying staying in small, traditional hotels (ryokan) must be good.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. All the arrangements worked perfectly.

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