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Kumano Kodo and Koyasan in three days

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At Trip to Japan what we did in summer 2018 we wanted visit the area of ​​Kumano and the Koyasan but without going all the Kumano Kodo trail whole. We wanted to do the simple version of Kumano Kodo (see Map below), which consists of visiting and collecting the stamps of the Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine in Nachi, the Kumano Hayatama Taisha shrine in Shingu and walking around the almost 8 kilometers between Hoshinmon-Oji and the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine. Yes in your Trip to Japan You have little time to explore this area of ​​the Wakayama region, in this post we explain how to organize the visit to the Kumano Kodo area in three days.

Day 1: Visit to Kumano Nachi Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha (night in Kawayu onsen)
Day 2: Kumano Kodo: from Hoshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha (night in Watarase onsen)
Day 3: Visit Koyasan (night in the great Buddhist temple of Koyasan)

He first day The itinerary was the most complex to organize, since we started from Kyoto (the day before we had finished the Shimanami Kaido) and had to travel a great distance by train. In addition, transport in the area of Kumano Kodo It is infrequent and you have to plan the route well so as not to stay hung. In this post I will detail all the trains and buses we take.

06: 44h Local train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka (arrival at 07: 09h)

For this trip we bought the Five day Kansai Wide Pass (€ 70 / 9,000 yen), which is very important if you travel through the area of Kansai, but does not include the bullet train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka. This route must be done by local train.

07: 30h Shin-Osaka train to Kii-Katsuura (arrival at 11: 33h)

As with him Kansai Wide Pass seat reservation is not included, as soon as we arrive at Shin-Osaka station we put ourselves in the entrance queue of the unreserved seat wagons. The 7:30 am train is the first that leaves in the direction of Shingu and takes 240 minutes to reach the KiiKatsuura station.

12: 10h Bus to Nachisan (arrival at 12: 35h)

Just in front of the Kii-Katsuura train station is the bus station that leads to the Kumano Nachi Taisha. We bought the one-way ticket for 620 yen (i / v 1000 yen). In Kii-Katsuura We were only 30 minutes away, so we couldn't enjoy this city that is known for its hot springs and tuna market. When we arrived at Kii-Katsuura, a large tub of water was falling, so before taking the bus we approached a combini (24h store) to buy a raincoat and, incidentally, a coffee with milk.

Visit to Kumano Nachi Taisha (from 12: 35h to 14: 50h)

At 12: 35h we arrive at the one according to my opinion It is the most beautiful temple of the Kumano Sanzan: Kumano Nachi Taisha. We get off at the last bus stop and go up the stairs until we reach the sanctuary. The veneration in Kumano Nachi Taisha goes back to the beginning of the history of Japan, since in this place the waterfall is venerated Nachi no Takiwhich is the Japan's biggest waterfall. The Kumano Nachi Taisha is a great example of the mixture between Shinto and Buddhism such as the three-story pagoda (Buddhist) with the sacred waterfall (Shinto) in the background: the typical postcard of Kumano Nachi Taisha.

We visit the different enclosures of the sanctuary until we find the seal Which shows that we had made the visit. Like many important sites in Japan (Kiyomizudera in Kyoto and Tosho-gu in Nikko), at that time the sanctuaries were covered with scaffolding to look amazing in the face of the Olympics. After putting the Kumano Nachi Taisha stamp on our pilgrim's booklet, we headed towards the three-story pagoda.

As I said, the photo of the pagoda with the waterfall in the background is the most typical of Kumano Kodo. The three-floor pagoda can be visited by paying 300 yen. From the base of the pagoda, stairs descend to the waterfall. The Nachi no taki it is the tallest waterfall in Japan with 133 meters high and in the sanctuary the deity of the waterfall is venerated.

At the end of the stone staircase there is a sanctuary and from there we can access a lookout to see the waterfall more closely for 300 yen. There is also a small source Of which if you drink (and pay 100 yen) you extend life, or so a visitor told me.

After the visit we went to the Nachinotaki-mae bus stop. In that area there are several restaurants where you can eat and shops where you sell souvenirs, but because of the bus schedules we did not have time to eat.

14: 51h Bus from Nachi Taisha to Nachi Eki (arrival 15: 07h)

At 2:51 p.m. bus that would leave us in the Nachi train station at 15: 07h. This bus ride cost us 480 yen. At Nachi station we had to wait half an hour until the train passed. The Nachi station is very small and has less train frequency than the Kii-Katsuura station. Also in this station there are very few services and we ended up eating the snacks that we had bought at the combini from Kii-Katsuura. I leave the link to see all schedules from the bus from Nachi Taisha to Nachi Eki.

15: 37h Train from Nachi-eki to Shingu (arrival 15: 56h)

At 3:37 p.m. the local train arrived on time Shingu. It was a very small train with just two wagons. Take the train because it is included in the Kansai Wide Pass and so we saved some yen. At 3:56 p.m. we arrive at Shingu station.

Visit to Kumano Hayatama Taisha (4pm to 5pm)

From there we hurry to the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, which is about 15 minutes walk from the station and closed at five in the afternoon. We didn't want to risk not being able to put the second seal of Kumano Sanzan. Luckily, we were able to put the seal and visit the sanctuary for a while. Although the truth is that we did not entertain much because before taking the last bus of the day we wanted to sit down for lunch / dinner in conditions. In front of the station is the Katsuda restaurant, a sushi restaurant, but they also had noodle dishes soba And it's very good.

18: 15h Bus from Shingu to Kawayu Onsen (arrival 19: 16h)

At quarter past six the last bus leaves for Kawayu Onsen. The bus takes an hour (arrives at 7:16 p.m.) and cost us 1,540 yen. We arrived at Kawayu Onsen when it was totally night, so we headed to the hotel where we were going to spend that night.

Overnight in Kawayu Onsen

We stayed that night in the area of Kawayu because it was cheaper than in Hongu We didn't have high hopes for him Onsen Minshuku Oomuraya No. 2 but we were amazed at the hotel. Our room was familiar (for five people) and was the largest we had in the entire trip. Had a great common area with tatami where he had arranged three futons and an area with two beds. The room without breakfast cost us 23,250 yen (4,650 yen / person) and we regretted not having booked dinner or breakfast because it looked amazing.

Although we arrived at night, we did not want to miss the visit to Kawayu onsen. In Japanese, kawayu means "river of hot water". The water of this river is cold, but next to it there is hot springs and some pools where to bathe. In the hotel they lent us some light bulbs to light the way to the river. We went in the water for a while, but it was boiling and in the middle of August it felt like little, so we lasted little. In the Kawayu area you have to take a bathing suit, since it is in the middle of the street.

8: 26h Bus from Kawayu Onsen to Hosshimon-Oji

At 8:26 the bus leaves at Kawayu Onsen Hosshimon-Oji. You have to be in advance at the bus stop because if you miss it, the next one happens at 1:43 p.m. Therefore, 15 minutes before we were already guarding. The bus arrived on time and was quite full of pilgrims who were going to travel this stage of the Kumano Kodo. We arrived to Hosshimon-Oji at 8: 50h and the journey cost us 510 yen. He stopped a moment in a kind of service area in the middle of the mountains and there was a bathroom and a drinks machine. You have to walk a few meters until you reach a road and in front we will see a torii of stone where is the Hosshimon-Oji. In the link at the end of this sentence you can check the bus schedules to Hoshimon-Oji.

Hosshimon-Oji It is one of the important sites of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, since it is the external access to the divine enclosure of Kumano Hongu Taisha. The oji they were sanctuaries along the pilgrimage path that offered a place to pray and rest. Historically, on the trail there were these spiritual landmarks of vital importance in the ascetic buddhism. For example, hosshin means "spiritual awakening" and "mon" door. Crossing this door was a rite of transformation and initiation to death and rebirth in the paradise of the Pure Land.

We made a visit to the sanctuary and followed the road down, where a few meters away is the booth with the first seal. If the path is made from Takijiri, the route has no loss, but from the bus stop you have to watch and go to the sanctuary Hosshimon-Oji and walk again to the bus stop again in the direction of Mizunomi-Oji (1.5 km). Between some things and others, We start the trail at 9:30 a.m..

This stretch of Kumano Kodo It passes through rural areas of Japan and passes through small towns. On the way we find some stops with souvenirs and, if you like something, you simply leave the money of the price that marks in a box and you take it. We were very lucky, since that day it was sunny and we could enjoy the road despite the heat it was. With the rain that had fallen the day before, it would have been a tostón to travel those 8 km.

At 10 a.m. we arrive at point 65 where is the booth with the next stamp, that of Mizunomi-Oji, known as the sanctuary with a spring of water. At this point, the feudal lord of the Kishu region erected a stone monument in 1723. Next to this there are some small stone statues called Jizo. Jizo He is a bodhisattva, a being who compassionately decides not to enter Nirvana in order to save others. Is one of the most popular deities in Japan. Jizo is also the savior and protector of children and the Travellers, but popular folk gives them more properties. Next to the fountain there are a couple of Jizo statues. One of them is cracked in half and it is said that if you put a coin and do a prayer, the jizo will free you from back pains.

The next sellito is shortly before reaching point 69 (1.9km) in Fushiogami-Oji where we arrived at 10: 45h. From the viewpoint at this point you can see the Kumano Hongu Taisha. At one point, the pilgrims knelt and prayed, which is what "Fushiogami" means. In addition, there is a story that tells that 1000 years ago a famous poet of the time I was touring the Kumano Kodo and when he arrived at Fushiogami-Oji, his period came. Purification is very important in the Shinto religion and blood is considered impure, so women who have the period are not allowed to pray. Such great disgust was that he composed the following poem:

Under the cloudy skies, my body / obscured by clouds / saddens me that my monthly / obstruction has begun.

That night, the Kumano deity replied:

How could it be that the god who mixes / with the dust / suffers due to your monthly obstruction?

With that he came to say that even the gods suffer from impurities, so the Kumano It does not exclude anyone from praying there. Compared to other sacred places in Japan where women have been banned from entering, everyone is welcome at Kumano regardless of religion, social class or gender. Scope and acceptance are fundamental issues in Faith of the Kumano.

From that point it was just over three kilometers to the Kumano Hongu Taisha and the road continued between trees and small towns. At eleven o'clock the Japanese heat began to show. In August it is very hot and humid, and when you do physical activities it shows even more.

At 12: 10h we arrive at point 75 where it is Haraido-Oji, the last oji before arriving at Kumano Hongu Taisha. One of the main goals of the pilgrimage in the Kumano it is to cleanse the body and the spirit of impurities of this life and of the previous ones.

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