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Frequently asked questions

  • Where's Kumano?

    Kumano is the ancient name for the southern part of the Kii Peninsula. This peninsula, located south of Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, is the largest in Japan. It is a spiritual hot spot containing Ise-jingu shrine, Yoshino & Omine, Koyasan and the sacred Kumano Sanzan Shrines. There is no official Kumano region today. This name dates back to prehistoric times and for the Japanese conveys a deep sense of mystery and awe. Kumano is associated not only with Yomi-no-Kuni, the mythical land of the dead, but also Buddhist celestial paradises.

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Kumano Kodo

  • Difficult rating

    There are many walking possibilities with a variety of difficulty, from short leisurely walks to multi-day treks in the Kii-Hanto peninsula, including the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route network.

    Difficulty ratings are subjective estimates based on a set of criteria. These are meant to be a general rating to give visitors an idea of the amount of effort it takes to walk certain sections of trail.Please be aware that ratings are not static, but change depending on many variables.

    Please review information relating to the various routes to match your experience and needs to make the most of your walk. Preparation is important so please plan ahead and bring proper equipment, including walking shoes/boots and rain gear.

    If you need more help deciding which section of the Kumano Kodo to walk, please visit the Kumano Kodo route guides, suggested walks page or contact us anytime.

    Difficulty Ratings Criteria

    Difficulty ratings are calculated with the combination of the following 6 criteria:

    • Distance
    • Time
    • Elevation gain and descent
    • Type of terrain e.g. mountain trail or paved road
    • Accessibility e.g. public bus routes
    • Isolation e.g. if there are people nearby

    The range from 1 to 5 is as follows:

    Difficult Ranking 1:

    • Short distance
    • Minimal time to walk
    • Minimal elevation gain and descent
    • Easy terrain e.g. pavement or well maintained trail
    • Very accessible e.g. bus stops are nearby
    • Settled area e.g. people live along the trail or nearby

    ※ These walks are appropriate for the casual walker.

    Difficult Ranking 5:

    • Long distance
    • Full day walk
    • Steep elevation gain and descent
    • Difficult terrain eg. roots, steep uneven staircases, etc.
    • Limited accessibility
    • Remote area

    ※ These walks are appropriate for the prepared, experienced walker in good physical condition.

    Note: This does not mean that all routes that are ranked 5 have no bus access, etc. Other criteria may play a more important role in ranking.

    Difficulty Ratings Variables

    There are many variables that can dynamically change the difficulty of the route including;

    • Weather
    • Time of day
    • Time of year
    • Direction routes are walked
    • Amount of luggage being carried
    • Physical condition and experience of walker

    For example, if it is raining very hard, you are carrying a large backpack, and fatigued, a 3 ranked course can easily become a difficulty of 5.

    Nakahechi Route Difficulty Ratings (Kumano Kodo)

    Section Distance Time Difficulty 
    Rating
    Takijiri-oji ~ Tsugizakura-oji ~17 km ~6 hr 4
    – Takijiri~Takahara 3.7 km ~2 hr 2.5
    – Takahara~Gyuba-doji Guchi 8 km ~3 hr 3
    – Gyuba-doji Guchi~Chikatsuyu-oji 1.3 km ~30 min 1
    – Chikatsuyu-oji~ Tsugizakura-oji 4 km ~1 hr 15 min 1.5
    Tsugizakura-oji~ Kumano Hongu Taisha 21 km ~6.5 hr 4
    – Tsugizakura-oji~Hosshinmon-oji 14 km ~4.5 hr 3
    – Hosshinmon-oji~Kumano Hongu Taisha 7 km ~2 hr 2
    Akagi-goe ~6 km ~2 hr 2
    Dainichi-goe ~3.5 km ~1 hr 15 min 2
    Ogumotori-goe ~14.5 km ~5.5 hr 5
    Kogumotori-goe ~13 km ~4.5 hr 4
    Daimon-zaka ~1 km ~30 min 1.5

    ※Walking times do not include breaks and are based on the abilities of a healthy walker, without a pack, in good weather. Please plan accordingly.

    Kohechi Route Difficulty Ratings (Kumano Kodo)

    Section Distance Time Difficulty 
    Rating
    Koyasan~Omata ~17 km ~6.5 hr 4.5
    Omata~Miura-guchi ~19 km ~8 hr 5
    Miura-guchi~Totsukawa ~20 km ~7.5 hr 4.5
    Totsukawa~ Kumano Hongu Taisha ~15 km ~7.5 hr 4.5
    – Totsukawa~Yagio ~10.5 km ~5.5 hr 4
    – Yagio~Kumano Hongu Taisha ~4.5 km ~2 hr 1.5

    ※Walking times do not include breaks and are based on the abilities of a healthy walker, without a pack, in good weather. Please plan accordingly.

    Other Trails Difficulty Ratings

    Section Distance Time Difficulty 
    Rating
    Amida-ji Temple & Mount Myohozan ~5 km ~2.5 hr 2

    ※Walking times do not include breaks and are based on the abilities of a healthy walker, without a pack, in good weather. Please plan accordingly.

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  • Where’s Kumano?

    Kumano is the ancient name for the southern part of the Kii Peninsula. This peninsula, located south of Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, is the largest in Japan. It is a spiritual hot spot containing Ise-jingu shrine, Yoshino & Omine, Koyasan and the sacred Kumano Sanzan Shrines. There is no official Kumano region today. This name dates back to prehistoric times and for the Japanese conveys a deep sense of mystery and awe. Kumano is associated not only with Yomi-no-Kuni, the mythical land of the dead, but also Buddhist celestial paradises.

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  • What’s the weather like?

    The climate in the Kumano is temperate, especially along the coastal areas. Once you get into the mountains weather can change quickly. It rarely snows in the southern portion of Wakayama prefecture.
    more Weather >>

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  • Are there any downloadable maps or pamphlets for the area?

    Yes, we have many maps and pamphlets that are downloadble in PDF format. Maps include Japanese characters to make them user friendly when navigating the area.
    more maps & pamphlets >>

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  • What’s an Oji?

    Ojis are shrines along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. They served as sites of worship, ritual and rest and are an integral part of the pilgrimage to Kumano.
    more Oji >>

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  • Why is there a sun on the front of the credential?

    Santiago is in the far West where the sun sets, and Kumano is in the far East where the sun rises.  They are connected by the sun.

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  • On the Santiago de Compostela side of the Credential sheet is says “Official Credential” but on the Kumano Kodo side it doesn’t. Why?

    The Dual Pilgrim passport has been officially accepted by the Santiago Cathedral as a valid document to use along the Way of St. James.  The Kumano Grand Shrines do not have this structure of documentation, so the term official isn’t used on the Kumano Kodo side.

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  • What does Credential mean?

    The Credential is often used for the Way of St. James booklet for collecting stamps along the route.  This attests to the authenticity and validity of the document.  

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  • Do I need to register for the Dual Pilgrim after I do each one of the pilgrimage routes.

    No, you only register for Dual Pilgrim status when you have completed the second of the two routes.

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  • Do I have to have my completed Way of St. James Credential with me when I register to be a Dual Pilgrim after I walk the Kumano Kodo?

    It is preferred if you did to prove that you have walked the Way of St. James, but not necessary.

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  • I walked the Way of St. James many years ago. If I walk the Kumano Kodo now, am I still eligible for Dual Pilgrim status?

    Yes, if you have walked it in the past that is OK. As long as you can prove or state that you have done both when you register that is no problem.

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  • Can the pin badge be mailed to me if I have walked both routes?

    No, you must go to one of the registration sites to register and receive the pin.

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  • What if I finish my walk in Katsuura? Where do I go to register?

    The easiest way is to take the train to the Kii-Tanabe station, and register at the Tanabe Tourist Information Center next to the station.

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  • Is it OK if I take a bus part-way on the Kumano Kodo?

    For the Kumano Kodo, yes it is OK to use the bus if needed.

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  • Where are the stamps on the Kumano Kodo?

    The stamps are mostly located in small wooden stands at oji shrines and other historical spots. Ask at the Grand Shrines for the location of these stamps.

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  • Do I need to complete both sides of the credential or is it OK if I have already completed the Way of St. James with a different style of passport?

    You do not have to complete both sides of the Dual Pilgrim credential. It is OK if you use another form of credential or stamp book.  For example:

    1. Dual Pilgrim Credential for Kumano Kodo and Santiago Cathedral Credential for Way of St. James (or other certified Credential for the Way of St. James)
    2. Tourist association passport for Kumano Kodo and Dual Pilgrim Credential for Way of St. James
    3. Tourist association passport for Kumano Kodo and Santiago Cathedral Credential for Way of St. James (or other certified Credential for the Way of St. James)

    It is preferred if you have walked both routes recently and use the Dual Pilgrim passport for both, but it is not obligatory.

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  • Which route do I need to do first?

    It doesn’t matter which order you do them, as long as you have completed both you are a Dual Pilgrim.

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