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Nakahechi Imperial Route

Intermediate/Difficult
 5.0 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This is part of the Kumano Kodo-a 1000 year old pilgrimage route formerly used by emperors and nobles.


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Map Key

46.5

Miles

74.9

KM

Point to Point

2,899' 884 m

High

172' 52 m

Low

12,975' 3,955 m

Up

12,090' 3,685 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

68%

Max Grade (34°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Historical Significance · Hot Spring · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Overview

The trail rolls across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. You head up and down the steep terrain, aided by built-in stairs and good breaks at the frequent intervals.

Need to Know

Along these trails there are plenty of options for water and toilets. Hikers (and pilgrims) pack light and stay in accommodations (tb-kumano.jp/en/lodging/) at the various way stations.

Pay your respects when entering shrines (matcha-jp.com/en/874#:~:tex…. )

There are no trashcans along the trail. Please be prepared to pack your trash for the day.

Description

Takijiri-oji to Chikatsuyu-oji
The trail starts by powering up hill for about a mile when you arrive at the shrine, Tsurugi-no-yama Sutra Mound. From here, pass a viewpoint and the trail heads north and down hill.

After a road crossing, you have a powerful climb. Once the trail levels off you continue on the road and soon arrive at Takahara Kumano Shrine and rest area.

After leaving the shrine the trailhead steeply up hill for 1/2 a mile. From here, the trail continues more gently until it skirts Mount Akushiro.

Continue along the blunt ridge until your at 7.5 miles, where you switch back down the mountain. The steep drop continues for a mile until you begin shadowing National Road #311.

A short rise leads back down hill until you arrive at Hirase.

Chikatsuyu to Hongū
The next section start with 3.5 miles that follows the road out of town while visiting multiple shrines.

From here you tuck back into the forest and head steeply uphill gaining and then losing 300' vertical feet all within a mile. Cruise up the side of another rise. At the apex you pass a large landslide and then drop back down.

At 7 miles, you head up and down another hill which is the last significant prominence in this section. The trail trends gently down from here will a few steeper descents.

The final miles are rich with shrines culminating in the Kumano Hongū Taisha Grand Shrine in this section's terminus of Hongū

Ukegawa to Koguchi
On the far side of town you head up the hill on a .5 mile of steep switchbacks.

Continue along at an easy pace passing the ruins of a tea house and finally arriving at the edge of Mount Nyoho. Enjoy the vast viewpoint and then continue down the hill .

After a dip and another rise you pass along the summit of Mount Kogumontori. Soon you pass the Ishido-jaya Teahouse ruins while rolling along the high country.

From here a steep drop and ascent push to the summit of the section.

Pass the Sakura-chaya Teahouse Ruins and continues down a series of steeper sections. The last 3/4 of a mile cuts through.

Koguchi to Nachi Taisha
The first three miles starts with an intense 2500' elevation change. Along the way you first pass Waroda-ishi. It a large moss-covered rock rock that was visited by deities to sit and drink sake. Close to the summit you pass the Kusu-no-Kubo Lodging Ruins

Roll down the hill and over another hill until you arrive at the Jizo-jaya Teahouse Ruins.

From here you follow the road for next mile before you tuck back into the forest. Cruise along through some easy terrain until you connect back with the road.

A short while on the road, you head up the hill and into the forest again. You finally get some views of the Pacific Ocean when you arrive at the Funamichaya Overlook.

Head down hill and eventually you arrive at the Kumano-Nachi Taisha Shrine

Flora & Fauna

Japanese Cedar trees, wild cherry trees, Japanese serow (a sort of goat-antelope), Asiatic black bear, Japanese beech trees, and Sika deer.

History & Background

Japanese spirituality, particularly Shintoism, is deeply connected to a love of nature. Objects such as special trees or boulders can be found to have yorishiro (ability to attract kami or spirits). These sites and others can become shrines.

This route connects a series of shrines for a spiritual journey. For a thousand years devotees have used the route to reconnect to nature, the gods and themselves. It's enduring popularity has left the trail riddled with the ruins of ancient teahouses and other structures.

Shared By:

Russell Hobart

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

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  5.0 from 3 votes
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Photos

First viewpoint on the trail.
Jun 18, 2020 near Tanabe, JP
Deep rolling hills disappear in the distance.
Jun 18, 2020 near Shingū, JP
Stairs heading up through the gateway.
Jun 18, 2020 near Tanabe, JP
River crossing in the forest.
Jun 18, 2020 near Tanabe, JP
Rustic trail twisting up the hill.
Jun 18, 2020 near Tanabe, JP
Stairs curve up the side of the hill
Jul 4, 2020 near Shingū, JP

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Oct 5, 2018
Ana Sorce