Our initial plan was to spend 2 days and 1 night hiking around the Kumano Kodo trail and stayed a night in a minshuku after my run in Tango Ultramarathon last year.
We ditched that plan in favour of spending a longer time at Kinosaki Onsen and made our way to Wakayama from Osaka instead of from Toyooka.
We boarded the Ocean Arrow limited express train at Tennoji Station using our 5-days JR Kansai WIDE Area pass which was on its final day use and the trip took about 3.5hours.
Using the JR Kansai WIDE Area pass, we took our seats in the unreserved car but we later walked around the train and spent some time seated in the sightseeing car with wide windows. It was nice to sit in the sightseeing car and watch the scenery as we traveled to Kiikatsuura for the start of our hike to Nachi no Taki (Nachi Waterfall).
From the station, we headed to the bus terminal (if one can call it that) to wait for the bus to Nachi Station.
The bus we boarded actually traveled all the way to Nachi Waterfall but we alighted at Nachi Station so that we could hike part of the Kumano Kodo trail.
Our short bus trip took less than 10 minutes.
The bus trip from Kiikatsuura to Nachi Waterfall will take about 25-30 minutes.
In front of Nachi Station.
We spent some time at the station as there is a wealth of information about the pilgrimage route available there.
Our destination - Nachi Waterfall.
For foreigners wanting to embark on the Kumano Kodo trail, don't worry. There are maps available and the trails are properly and clearly marked.
We of course, only did a very small part of the historic pilgrimage route and we plan to someday do the whole route when we have more time to do it (make it a week).
The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route stretched across the mountains of Kii Peninsula and since ancient times, pilgrims from all level of society (including retired emperors and aristocrats) made the journey as they undertook religious rites of worship and purification.
Kumano Kodo route had, in 2004; been registered as UNESCO World Heritage as part of Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Peninsula.
Our hike can be sectioned into 3 parts:
1. Main road
3. The stone steps of Daimonzaka
One thing about the route we chose - we couldn't find a single shop!
Luckily we brought along enough drinks and snacks to eat along the way. I brought along a few bars of Moolabar to snack on and I sure was glad I brought them!
But we bought some Japanese cucumbers from an unmanned stall that was set-up by the road-side. Only 100yen for 3 cucumbers and we just leave the money in the yellow coin box.
Apart from the two hikers, we got the trail all to ourselves so it was nice to just spend time walking and enjoying the scenery quietly.
Of course the Boy couldn't help to play and goof around.
From this hill, we descended and walked past this village en route to Daimonzaka Hill.
No shops in sight (or we didn't notice one) but as anywhere in Japan, there are vending machines to buy drinks from.
Bought a bottle of mineral water and continued our walk.
We later found another unmanned stall selling candies and bought a packet.
The same bag of candies, with a shop logo sold at souvenir shop nearby Kiikatsura Station was sold at a much higher price!
There was some huge construction done around the area and at one junction, there was a construction worker manning it.
Beside him was a big carboard map of the trail and also some encouragement written for pilgrims and hikers.
He saw us and gave a thumbs-up and told us Daimonzaka was just up ahead. Wasn't that nice?
From this point onwards, it's ancient stone steps up and up all the way to Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine and Nachi-san Seiganto Temple.
That in my next post.