Kumano to Koya self-guided walking 5 days
DAY 1 ➤ Hike from Yagio to Totsukawa Onsen From Osaka or Kyoto, head south by train to Kii-Tanabe and onwards by bus to Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, spiritual centre of the Kii Peninsula and the start of the Kohechi trail. Take a short pre-booked and pre-paid taxi ride to Yagio where your walk on this ancient route begins. Follow a wonderful forested trail over Hatenashi-toge Pass with excellent valley views, fascinating cultural monuments (including a miniature Kannon statue pilgrimage) and picturesque villages. A brief bus ride avoids a short final stretch on a busier road at the very end of the walk. Finish the day with a relaxing thermal bath at your inn for tonight in Totsukawa Onsen.
DAY 2 ➤ Hike from Nishinaka to Miuraguchi Heading onwards from Totsukawa Onsen to Nishinaka by local bus, the section of the Kohechi trail to Miuraguchi offers some of the best views of the Kumano valley over the Miura-toge Pass and continues to the scenic, peaceful village of Miuraguchi or ‘Gateway to Miura’ where you stay tonight in an intimate Minshuku family-run guesthouse on a small farm. Walking distance: 11km / 6.8 miles from Nishinaka to Miuraguchi Elevation gain: 855m / 2,805 feet of ascent and 755m / 2,475 feet of descent Time required: 5 hours Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
DAY 3 ➤ Hike from Miuraguchi to Nosegawa Onsen After breakfast you leave Miuraguchi. The trail continues north along one of the most rural and challenging hikes in the Kumano region over the Obako-toge Pass to another scenic rural village called Omata. The hot-spring village of Nosegawa Onsen is your destination for tonight and is a short scenic riverside walk onwards from Omata. Your inn will pick you up from Omata if you prefer not to walk the last section to Nosegawa Onsen. Walking distance: 13.7km / 8.5 miles from Miuraguchi to Nosegawa Onsen Elevation gain: 1,150m / 3,770 feet of ascent and 850m / 2,790 feet of descent Time required: 6-7 hours Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
DAY 4 ➤ Hike from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya Leave Nosegawa Onsen this morning and begin todays hike from the boundary between Nosegawa and Koya - it is also possible to walk the full distance from Nosegawa Onsen if you prefer a longer hike with some strenuous paved sections. On the final leg of the Kohechi trail to Mount Koya there are magical valley views as you traverse the peak Mizu-ga-mine. Arriving at the mountain-top temple town at the end of the walk delivers a great sense of achievement. Spiritual Mount Koya is a fitting reward for completing the pilgrimage route. Walking distance: 7.3km / 4.5 miles from Nosegawa Onsen to Mount Koya (with an optional additional paved section of 9.2km / 5.7 miles) Elevation gain: 325m / 1,065 feet of ascent and 465m / 1,525 feet of descent Time required: 3 hours (6-7 hours including the optional additional section) Accommodation: Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging)
DAY 5 ➤ Hike on the Choishi-michi trail, then travel to Osaka or Kyoto On your final day, you have chance to explore more of Mount Koya, visiting the atmospheric Okunoin cemetery with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries, and other monuments. Or undertake our optional, challenging hike on the Choishi Michi trail, the atmospheric original approach to Mount Koya lined with stone markers. Finally board the scenic Nankai railway line towards Osaka and Kyoto. Walking distance: 15.5km / 10 miles Elevation gain: 1,225m / 4,020 feet of ascent; 650m / 2,130 feet of descent Time required: About 5 hours of optional walking