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Camping on the Kumano Kodo

Hints & Tips 8/28/2023

Camping on the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi route with your own tent is not common, but possible with appropriate planning and respect for the local heritage.

But it is essential to use established campgrounds in the main destination areas (Chikatsuyu, Kawayu Onsen, Watase Onsen and Koguchi), to complete a camping pilgrimage.

IMPORTANT: There is no free camping in the mountains or open fires allowed.

NOTE: There are no camping sites at the beginning (in Tanabe) and the end (in Nachi/Katsuura) so staying in accommodations is necessary.

Preparation

Things to Know

  • Completing a visit on the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi route could take 3 to 5 nights.
  • Familiarize yourself with maps and bus timetables to get oriented with the area.
  • Bring your own tent and sleeping bag.
  • First-come, first-served basis for most campgrounds along the Nakahechi. No advanced booking required for hikers.
  • Mostly no on-site English speakers, some locations have prepared information in English regarding check-in and rules. Some may use translation applications on their phones.
  • Payment is cash on site.
  • Spaces are limited for auto campsites, campgrounds usually have space for backpackers who arrive with their own tents.
  • Preparing food and water is essential for your trip. While some small grocery stores, shops or cafes might be available on the way, planning in advance and carrying what you can is important.

LUGGAGE STORAGE & SHIPPING

You can store any unnecessary luggage at the TANABE Tourist Information Center.

Daily luggage shuttle is not available for campers, visitors can arrange next- or later-day Shipping for their bags from a convenience store in Tanabe to a booked accommodation in Nachi-Katsuura at the end of their walk via national shipping company Yamato Ta-Q-Bin service.

More about Yamato Ta-Q-Bin service

Rules and Caution

  • Free-camping is prohibited along the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo Nakahechi route, as well as in adjacent towns, public or private property. No exceptions.
  • Open campfires from the ground are strictly prohibited. (Barbecue pits and areas for gas stove use are available at campgrounds.)
  • Smoking is prohibited in all forests and along the trails. Smoking sections may be available at campgrounds. Check when you arrive. Deposit cigarette butts in appropriate containers.
  • “Leave No Trace”: pack out all of your garbage (bento lunch boxes, uneaten food, wrappers, etc.) and place it in the appropriate garbage bins at campground facilities. Do not leave behind unwanted camping gear.
  • While some campgrounds may be pet-friendly, please note that pets are not welcome on the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo trail.

Extensive information including information about weather, detours, clothing, customs, safety, animals, etiquette, and general tips about visiting the area can be found at Kumano Kodo Tips & Safety.

Arrival Day: Tanabe

Staying the first night in the central Tanabe area near Kii-Tanabe Station creates a good base to prepare for the journey.

There is no place to camp in central Tanabe City, so booking accommodation at a guest house or inn with a “No Meals” plan is a reasonable option.

There are a number of area restaurants and convenience stores, and logistically it is good to be located near the station where the buses for the Kumano Kodo depart.

Load up on any snacks or seasonal fruit you might need.

As the walk from Takijiri-oji to Chikatsuyu is considered a full day’s walk, it is a good idea to get an early bus from Kii-Tanabe Station to Takijiri-oji .

Bus departure times from Kii-Tanabe in English ->->

Suggested Walk

Explore the gateway city for the Kumano Kodo, Tanabe. Visit Tokei-jinja shrine which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage or spend time at Ogigahama Beach.

Tanabe is the birthplace of the founder of the martial art Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and you can try an Aikido experience at the local municipal martial arts facility. Or visit the archives and preserved home of 19th-century Japanese folklorist, ecologist, biologist, naturalist, and polyglot Kumagusu Minakata.

Or sample the local izakaya and restaurant scene in Ajikoji restaurant district and try local delicacies like “umeboshi” and “umeshu” made from the local plum-apricot-like fruit “ume,” a stalwart of Japanese cuisine.

Tanabe Area Accommodations

Both hotel and guest house stays are available and choosing “No Meals” plans makes it very reasonable.

Day 1: Chikatsuyu Area

Suggested Walk

Take the 8:02 bus from Platform 2 in front of Kii-Tanabe Station to get to Takijiri bus stop.

Visit the KUMANO KODO KAN information center at Takijiri (open 8:30 to 17:15 daily) for last-minute maps, walking sticks, fill water bottles, and use the public toilets.

This one-day hike begins at the Takijiri-oji shrine beside the Tonda River and follows a mountain trail passing through Takahara to Chikatsuyu Village. The route has some steep inclines and downhill slopes on uneven surfaces. There are paved sections in the village of Takahara and within Chikatsuyu Village.

It is roughly 14 km to the campsite, (6 to 8 hours).

Pick up food or snacks at the Michi-no-Eki rest area Kumano Kodo Nakahechi or at the A-Coop Grocery Store in Chikatsuyu.

Chikatsuyu Area Camping Options

Iris Park Auto Camp

Iris Park is a spacious, rustic campground located close to beautiful natural surroundings like the Hiki-gawa River.

CostAdult: 2,300 yen (1,300 entrance fee + 1,000 tent fee) ※ no tent rental
Children (5-11): 1,800 yen (800 entrance fee + 1,000 tent fee)
Autocamp site (with electricity and without): 3,500 yen ~ + entrance fee
Bungalow: 10,000 yen ~
Campsite Type■3 campsites (main building area, mountain, and riverside)
■Bungalows for rent
Baths / Showers“Megumi-no-Yu” onsen bath free to campers.
※ day use possible for non-staying guests 10:00 to 20:00, onsen only 650 yen
ToiletsYes
Wi-fiNo
Check in12:00 (if arriving after 17:00, please call)
Check-out10:00
FacilitiesBarbecue pits, toilets, onsen bath, municipal swimming pool (separate fee required), washing machine (separate fee required).
For RentBarbecue grill and small camping stove, cooking pots and pans, sleeping bag, blanket, kettle, cups, lantern, mess tin for rice, knife & cutting board, firewood and charcoal (for purchase).
Address128-1 Chikatsuyu, Nakahechi-cho, Tanabe-shi, Wakayama-ken 646-1402
Phone #0739-65-0410 (Japanese only)
Websitehttp://irispark.jp/
Where to get foodA Coop Grocery Store in Chikatsuyu Village.
AccessIris Park Auto Camp is about 700 meters from Chikatsuyu-oji. Continue east through town along the Kumano Kodo route until you reach the Chikano Elementary / Junior High School (about 300 meters), then turn left. Follow the road north another 100 meters, then turn right. The road leads you across the Hiki-gawa River and to the office.
Nearest Bus StopChikatsuyu-oji
Bus Timetable .
Buses run from Kii-Tanabe and Shirahama to Chikatsuyu. Bus Timetable #1 (Eastbound), Bus Timetable #2 (Westbound).

Minshuku 3rd Place Kumano Kodo campsite (RESERVATIONS ONLY)

A traditional inn in Chikatsuyu Village allows camping on land adjacent to their inn for guests who bring their own tent.

There is a small, cabin-like “Lodge” for rent as well as a regular campsite. Booking for both of these must be reserved in advance.

Day 2: Hongu Area

Suggested Walk

Get an early start for this long, full-day hike over varied terrain. The trail is on pavement from Chikatsuyu Village, through the Nonaka area to Kobiro-toge Pass, and then on an unpaved mountain trail to Hosshinmon-oji. It is 25 km and can take 9 to 12 hours.

It can be broken up by using the local bus from Chikatsuyu to get further down the trail.

When you arrive in Hongu, catch a bus from Hongu Taisha-mae bus stop to the closest bus stops listed in the information below.

SUGGESTION: Stay a couple of days in the Hongu area to do area hikes using the public bus to get you around. Having a day to relax in the Oto River of Kawayu, or visiting the onsens of Watarase or Yunomine can be fun.

More about Yunomine Onsen ->->

Hongu Area Camping Options

Tanabe Kawayu Campground 田辺川湯キャンプ場

Tanabe Kawayu Campground is a relaxing campground amid a beautiful rural mountain landscape at Kawayu Onsen in the Hongu area. Play in the Oto River or visit the nearby Kawayu Onsen hot spring.

CostAdult: 1,200 yen ※ no tent rental
Children (5-11): 700 yen
Vehicle fee: an additional 700 yen per vehicle (larger vehicles require higher entrance fee)
※ No advance reservations possible.
Campsite Type■2 campsites (grass area, riverside)
■Autocamp
Baths / ShowersNone onsite.
※ Kawayu Onsen Public Bath: 10-minute walk west, adults 250 yen, children 130 yen, open 6:30 to 20:00, closed Tuesdays)
※ Sennin Buro: free outdoor public onsen on the Oto River (bathing suit required)
ToiletsYes
Wi-fiNo
Check-inFrom 8:00 (if arriving after 17:00, please call) (please set up tents by 20:00)
Check-out12:00
FacilitiesMeal preparation and cooking area, vending machines.
For RentPlease check onsite.
Address1288 Kawayu, Hongu-cho, Tanabe-shi, Wakayama-ken 647-1717
Phone #0735-42-1168 (Japanese only)
Websitehttps://tanabe-kawayu-camp.com/
Where to Get FoodYamazaki Y Shop Shimoji convenience store: 20-minute walk west, open 8:00 to 18:00 (times may vary during the year), closed Wednesdays
※ Some instant goods for sale at reception.
AccessLocated 600 meters from either the Fujiya-mae or Hongu Shogakko-mae bus stops in Kawayu.
Nearest Bus StopFujiya-mae, Hongu Shogakko-mae (in Kawayu Onsen)
Bus Timetable .
Buses run from Kii-Tanabe and Shirahama to Kawayu Onsen. Bus Timetable #1 (Eastbound), Bus Timetable #2 (Westbound).
Bus Timetable #11 for buses running between Hongu Taisha-mae and the Kawayu area.

Otonashi-no-Sato (Wataze Outdoor) 和歌山県熊野本宮「おとなしの郷」

CostEntrance Fee / Free-site Fee:
Campers arriving on foot with own tent: 1,400 yen ※ no tent rental
Arriving by bicycle: 1,750 yen
Arriving by car: driver 2,450 yen, adult passengers 1,550 yen, children (3-12) 900 yen
Autocamp site Fee:
Regular Days (Mon, Tues, Wed, Sunday): 1,500 yen (plus entrance fee)
Weekends/Holidays (Fri, Sat, national holidays): 2,500 (plus entrance fee)
Major holidays (Golden Week, O-Bon, New Year’s): 3,500 (plus entrance fee)
Electric outlet usage fee: 500 yen
Cottage: 13,000 yen ~ (plus per person fee 2,600 yen ~)
※ Cash and major credit cards accepted
Campsite Type■2 campsites (green area and riverside)
■Autocamp site and Cottages for rent
Baths / ShowersCampers and Cottage guests can use nearby Onsen Center (located inside the main white office building) for free: 6:00 to 22:00
ToiletsYes
Wi-fiNo
Check-in■Free site: 10:00 to 20:00
■Autocamp site users: from 13:00
※ Closed Thursdays
Check-out■Free site: 10:30
■Autocamp site users: 11:00
FacilitiesBarbecue pits and food preparation area, toilets, emergency weather shelter.
For RentLarge variety of barbecue, stove and cooking items, games, chairs, and more for rent in the main office building.
Address45-3 Wataze, Hongu-cho, Tanabe-shi, Wakayama-ken 647-1731
Phone #Barbecue and cooking items, games, chairs, and more for rent in the main office building.
Websitehttp://hongu-otonashi.com/
Nearby ShopsOtonashi-no-Sato main building.
AccessWalk down the stairs from the Watarase Onsen bus stop and across the suspension bridge past Watarase Onsen Sasayuri to the white Otonashi-no-Sato main building. (Do not check in at Watarase Onsen.)
Nearest Bus StopWatarase Onsen bus stop
Bus Timetable .
Buses run from Kii-Tanabe and Shirahama to Watarase Onsen bus stop. Bus Timetable #1 (Eastbound), Bus Timetable #2 (Westbound).
Bus Timetable #11 for buses running between Hongu Taisha-mae and Watarase Onsen bus stop.

Day 3: Koguchi

Suggested Walk

The Kogumotori-goe is the lesser of two more challenging walks along the Nakahechi Route. It is a climb and descent over a pass and is mostly in the forested mountains. This is the first day of a two-day hike south from Hongu to Nachi.

The trailhead is located in Ukegawa next to the Kumano-gawa River on Route 168. There is a public toilet about 100 meters east down and across the road. The trail starts off passing by a set of houses. It is about 13 km (5 to 6 hours) walk to Koguchi.

HINT: As walkers may arrive in Koguchi in the early afternoon, enjoy the Akagi River or explore the small hamlet of Koguchi.

Koguchi Area Option

Koguchi Campground 小口キャンプ場

The Koguchi Campground is a convenient, airy stop for hikers doing the 2-day traverse from Hongu to Nachi. Entrances to the Kogumotori-goe, just 30 minutes away, and the Ogumotori-goe, just 5 minutes away, are close by.

CostAdult: 1,600 yen (slightly larger space 2,400 yen) ※ no tent rental
Autocamp site: 3,800 yen ~ + 500 yen per adult fee
Campsite Type■Campsite (2 sizes)
■Autocamp
Baths / ShowersGuests can use showers and bath in main building.
ToiletsYes (near campground)
Wi-fiInside the lobby of the main building.
Check-in15:00 (if arriving after 17:00, please call)
Check-out11:00
FacilitiesCooking area, playground.
For Rent
Address398 Kaminagai, Kumanogawa-cho, Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture, 647-1201
Phone #0735-45-2434 (Japanese only)
Website
Nearby ShopsMinakata Shoten (small grocery store with some snacks, drinks, irregular hours and holidays)
AccessCentrally located in the middle of Koguchi settlement.
Nearest Bus StopKoguchi bus stop
Bus Timetable .
Buses run from Hongu and Shingu to Koguchi with transfer at Kanmaru bus stop. Bus Timetable #5.

Finish in Nachi-Katsuura

Suggested Walk

Just 5 minutes away is the trailhead for the Ogumotori-goe section between Koguchi and Nachi.

The Ogumotori-goe is one of the toughest sections of the Nakahechi Route of the Kumano Kodo. It is a climb and descent over three passes and is mostly in the forested mountains. Be prepared with food and water as there are no places to get that on the trail.

Nachi-Katsuura Area Accommodations

There are no camping facilities in the Nachi or Katsuura towns, but there is a variety of accommodations (from guest house to resort) in the area and many great restaurants in Katsuura.

Departure

Depart the next day from Kii-Katsuura station for your next destination on a limited express train.

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