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Visit 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites on hikes through the 1,000 year old pilgrimage routes of the Kumano region, one of Japan's spiritual hotbeds. Stay in century-old Japanese ryokan inns, complete with multiple-course meals and in-house hot springs.
- Hike in the footsteps of emperors and commoners alike on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails
- Take a traditional riverboat down the Kumanogawa river on our final day
- Stay at some of the best Japanese ryokan in the region, each with over a century of tradition serving pilgrims
- Take a soak in a 1,800 year old hot spring (and the only World Heritage bathing spot in the world)
- Enjoy healthy, fresh food and local delicacies every meal
Kyoto Station (Tourist information center, 2F)
This is a trekking tour that involves around 6 hours of hiking per day, often on slippery or steep surfaces. If you are concerned about completing the trip safely please contact me so you have an idea about what to expect and whether it's a good idea to join the tour or not.
Note that a minimum group size of 3 is required for this tour to go forward. If the group minimum hasn't been reached two weeks prior to the tour start date, you will be notified and refunded in full.
What you need to bring
Backpack (25+ liters) - A minimum of 25 liter backpack is required to carry your rain gear, water, snacks, and bento boxes when we hike full days on Day 1 and 2 of the Pilgrimage tour.
Headlamp / Small flashlight - Especially in the fall and early spring, the sun may set before we arrive on Day 1. Having a bright headlamp or flashlight is important so you can clearly see the rocky, often uneven and steep ground below your feet.
Rain gear - Please be sure to bring waterproof hiking pants/jacket (with attached hood if you don't have a rain hat). It's possible that it will rain all day long both days of this tour, so be sure to bring
Hiking boots - Waterproof hiking boots with ankle support are highly recommended, as we'll be hiking in mountainous areas with uneven ground and often slippery rocks. If you have very sure footing and strong ankles, a pair of runners that you are used to will work, but are not recommended (especially given the likelihood of rain).
Good socks (3) - Please bring 3 pairs, either wool or synthetic, NEVER cotton. Use liner socks (a think silky sock that minimizes friction between your boot and your foot) if you have not had time to break in your boots or if you are prone to blisters.
Snacks & snack money - For the Kumano Pilgrimage Tour, we provide all meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on our final day. This means that you are responsible for your own breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on Day 3. Additionally, you will need to bring snacks or snack money for our hikes, as many people eat more than usual and find that one bento box for lunch isn't enough. We suggest bringing candy bars, jerky, cookies, trail mix, dried fruit, energy bars, and hard candies. Add peanut butter, cream cheese, hard cheese or pepperoni for additional calories and taste. Include some salty snacks to replenish lost salts.
Hiking Outer Layers - As temperatures can vary from above 30 degrees (C) to below 15 and rain is common, please make sure that you hike in quick-drying, durable materials such as polyester or athletic (i.e. running/soccer shirt) material. NEVER use cotton (including cotton jeans).
(3) T-Shirts: Please remember, polyester/athletic material. NO cotton
(2-3) Pants: Standard quick-dry trekking pants, preferably with zip-off legs to convert to shorts.
Warm outer layer - Especially in early spring and fall, temperatures can get cool enough (sometimes 15 degrees (C) during the day). A thick fleece is recommended.
Water Bottles - There are springs and water faucets along the way for us to refill, but you will want at least 2 (1 liter) water bottles filled when we meet in Kyoto Station on Day 1.
Backpack rain cover - Most backpacks are not waterproof, and it can rain a lot in the Kumano region. Using a backpack rain cover is one step we recommend you take to keep your valuables dry while hiking. Use dry bags or garbage bags to wrap all your clothes and other valuables inside your backpack for extra care.
Ball cap or sun/rain hat - A lightweight ball cap will be useful for when it's sunny, but we especially recommend a hat for rain, like KAVU's Chillba hat so that you can listen to the forest outside of a raincoat hood and enjoy the hike fully.
Hiking Poles - These can be very helpful for people without much experience hiking or those without sure footing. We hike in areas where the ground is often uneven and slippery, and having hiking poles can provide extra balance and support.
Swimsuit - If you're interested in hopping in the riverside hot spring in Kawayu Onsen (highly recommended!), please bring a swimsuit as the bath is mixed-gender and visible from the town.
Comfortable clothing - Having at least one change of comfortable clothing is recommended for you to wear on Day 3, when we spend most of the day traveling (by riverboat and train), as well as around the hot spring villages where we'll be spending the night (although yukata robes for walking around town are also provided at our lodging).
Comfortable shoes - When we travel by train to/from the Kumano region, you might appreciate having a pair of comfortable shoes to wear instead of your hiking boots.
Sunscreen - For your health, as the sun can be strong on parts of the hike.
Sunglasses - So you can look and feel good when it gets sunny!
Large garbage bags / dry bags (2) - When it rains, you want to be prepared. Placing all of your clothing inside of a dry bag will waterproof everything inside the bag. In the event of rain, you will be happy knowing that your warm clothing will still be dry by the time we arrive at our lodging.
Large zip-lock bag (1) - Please use this as your personal trash bag. There are NO trash bins along the trail. You must keep all trash with you until you arrive at our lodging at the end of each day.
- 日本語 (Fluent)
- English (Fluent)
Hi there! I'm Soren, I'm a bilingual adventure tour guide and I'm the third generation in my family to be raised in Japan. I grew up going to public school in Tokyo and frequently got the chance to escape with my friends into the mountains of Japan. I haven't stopped enjoying that, so in the summers I guide on Mt. Fuji, in the winters I run backcountry powder ski trips and in the fall and spring I like to hike the pilgrimage trails in one of Japan's most spiritually important regions. I love hot springs, mountains and food, so the Kumano region is perfect.
Break away from the busy cities and join me on a trip to discover another side of Japan in its mountains!
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