Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

Designed by our specialist partners in Japan walking holidays, this popular trip takes you away from the crowds to explore the beautiful Kumano Kodo trail. You’ll eat and sleep in traditional locally-owned inns, helping to support rural village life,
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
£980To£1665excluding flights
6 Days
Tailor made
Group size
More info
Various options from 4 days (£980) to 6 days (£1210).
Solo supplements apply.Accommodation booked & prepaid - train tickets (from/to Kyoto or Osaka) - detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions - topographical map - local phone support
Make enquiry

Description of Kumano Kodo trail self guided walking holiday, Japan

The Kumano Kodo is an iconic network of long-distance walking trails. Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims and nobility from 11th century Japan as they travelled from Kyoto to the three great shrines of Kumano, scattered among the Kii Mountains in the Kii Peninsula. This is the largest peninsula on Japan's main island of Honshu and the Kumano Kodo trail is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Divided into three main sub-routes - Nakahechi Trail, Kohechi Trail and Iseji Trail - the Kumano Kodo offers a whole range of walking options.

This self-guided walking holiday can be designed in various lengths with up to 6 hiking days, with some fairly strenuous treks of up to eight hours of walking per day. The route is very well-marked, so in terms of logistics for self-guided walking, it is very easy. Plus our itineraries are flexible, of course. Whichever route you take, you will enjoy hiking through ancient bamboo forests and 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.

Price information

£980To£1665excluding flights
Various options from 4 days (£980) to 6 days (£1210).
Solo supplements apply.Accommodation booked & prepaid - train tickets (from/to Kyoto or Osaka) - detailed day-by-day itinerary and walking instructions - topographical map - local phone support
Make enquiry

Departure information

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

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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 29 Nov 2023 by

Each day on the Kumano Kodo trail was wonderful. The forest was beautiful. This was one of the best hikes I've ever done. The inn in which we stayed the first night in Takahara (Kir-no-sato Takahara) was especially memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Dec 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was the beautiful trails and the peace. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was staying in the Ryokans and the natural beauty Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Apr 2019 by

Specific moments on the trail were memorable, especially at the approach to Hongu, our ryokan and experience at Chikatsuyu. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Nov 2018 by

The most memorable part was hiking the Kumano Kodo, staying in inns along the way; 2 days at Koyasan... Great. Read full review

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2018 by

It was a fantastic experience. The Kumano Kodo is a hidden treasure. My wife and I were alone on the trail almost the entire time. We rarely came across other travellers but when we did we had great conversations Read full review

Reviewed on 30 Aug 2018 by

Excellent Holiday!! Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Dec 2018 by

Excellent...The walking was great. Staying in local accommodation was superb and we enjoyed the local food Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2018 by

Standout moments were walking into the shrine at Hongu and feeling that we were part of a flow of visitors spanning centuries; having our first 'onsen' bath (followed by many more!); and learning how to debone a fish with chopsticks... Read full review

Reviewed on 31 Jul 2017 by

The most memorable part was the phenomenal trek through unspoilt forests...And superb, astonishing accommodation, beyond what we imagined it would be. A perfect combination. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 May 2017 by

9.5%...Most memorable was the friendliness and welcome feeling Japan gives Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2017 by

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 culture. This was a great trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a walking holiday on their own time. Read full review

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


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.

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