The forested area of Nonaka is located about three-and-a-half kilometers east of Chikatsuyu. It is known for the shrine grove of Tsugizakura-oji and the massive Nonaka-no-Ipposugi cedar trees
There are a few inns nearby not far from the Kumano Kodo trail.
Toganoki-jaya teahouse and Nonaka-no-Shimizu spring are scenic and popular stops nearby.
Next to the shrine sanctuary is Toganoki-jaya, a replica of a period teahouse with photogenic thatched roof and “irori” hearth. Sometimes, there is free tea and a friendly, local volunteer on hand.
Just a few hundred meters east of Toganoki-jaya is Hidehira-zakura cherry tree. Legend has it that a famed visiting lord named Fujiwara Hidehira, who left his newborn son at Chichi-iwa near Takiijri-oji, passed this point, planting a cherry wood staff into the ground pleading with the Kumano gods to have it bloom if his son was still safe when he passed this way on his return journey to the west. The stick was indeed blooming when he returned. It is said the fifth generation of that cherry tree grows there now.
If you are heading down to the Nonaka-Ipposugi bus stop, then you will pass by one of the famed 100 drinking-water natural springs of Japan, Nonaka-no-Shimizu. This spring has been popular with locals and pilgrims for centuries, and probably the cause for the shrine being established nearby in the first place. It is located directly below the giant cedars of Tsugizakura-oji.
The waters of Nonaka-no-Shimizu are pure enough to drink! Definitely follow the arrowed signs and try some!
Momiji Japanese maple trees grow nearby and their vibrant color gave rise to the traditional pastime of viewing autumn foliage, called momijigari, over a 1,000 years ago when nobles would gather, listen to music and compose poetry about the brightly colored leaves. Many poems have been written about Nonaka-no-Shimizu, and one stands out by Hattori Ransetsu, a pupil of Matsuo Basho, from 300 years ago:
Crystalline clear すみかねて (su-mi-ka-ne-te)
Inundating the trail 道まで出るか (mi-chi-ma-de-de-ru-ka)
Mountain spring water 山清水 (ya-ma-shi-mi-zu)
The closest bus stop to the Nonaka (Tsugizakura-oji) area is Nonaka Ipposugi. From there it is a 25-minute walk up to Tsugizakura-oji and the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Route.
Buses run from Kii-Tanabe and Shirahama to Hongu.
Bus Timetable #1 (Eastbound), Bus Timetable #2 (Westbound).