Hear about hiking the Kumano Kodo trek in Japan as the Amateur Traveler talks to Sherry Ott about her experience on this trail that was used by medieval emperors on the Kii Peninsula.
Sherry says, “The route is over a thousand years old (794-1185). That was what was called the Heian period. That was when Kyoto was the ancient capital. The emperors and their courts made this 30-40 day journey from Kyoto down to the Kii Peninsula. This was a purification hike. The idea was that they were in search of heaven on Earth. In this Kii Peninsula, the thought was that this was very spiritual and sacred. There were 3 temples and the idea was to go to these 3 temples to worship. Along the way, they would stop at smaller shrines call ojis. There they would do some purification rituals and they would go to the temple for larger rituals. It also was a big route of the samurai.”
While this hike and the Camino de Santiago in Spain are the only UNESCO trails, Kumano Kodo is much shorter but much steeper. While on the Camino you can do 15-20 miles a day Sherry did more like 9 miles a day and they were hard. Sherry did 5 days on the trail which is pretty average for this hike.
Booking independent lodging on the route is difficult so Sherry worked with an agency to book all her accommodations. She packed light and sent the rest of her luggage ahead using a luggage service. The agency, Oku Japan, also scheduled a special activity where Sherry spent a day hiking with a Yamabushi monk.
Sherry gives us an idea of what you need on the trail: layers, a sun hat, hiking poles, hiking boots, etc.
Stop at the visitor center at the start, where you can pick up a guide to the trail and the resources you will need on the trail such as restrooms.
If you love a good hike in the woods, come hear about Sherry’s experience on the Kumano Kodo.
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Sherry on Amateur Traveler
Japan Rail Pass
Everything you need to know about hiking the Kumano Kodo in Japan
Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
Buddhism in Japan
Luggage Forwarding in Japan
Sherry’s Kumano Kodo Photos
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