Getting around 3 Great Shrines along Kumano Kodo 熊野三山の巡り方

Here, I describe how to get around the 3 Great Shrines along Kumano Kodo.

1. Getting around the 3 Great Shrines
2. Access to 3 Great Shrines & How to walk around them
1) Kumano Hayatama Shrine & Giant Holy Rock
2) Kumano Nachi Shrine & Waterfall
3) Kumano Hongu Shrine & Giant Torii

Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient roads and paths stretching across the mountains of Kumano. The entire Kumano region is a designated World Heritage site. For more than 1000 years, pilgrims made the pilgrimage to Kumano from all over Japan, including people from all levels of society, all ages, and regardless of sex. They believed that by entering the Kumano area, they would die, purify their souls, and then re-enter this world.

1. Getting around the 3 Great Shrines

These three shrines are all in Wakayama prefecture. But there is no one bus route connecting the three of them. The nearest JR stations are JR Kii-Tanabe, Kii-Katsuura, and Shingu. You can get to the Kumano Kodo region from either Shin-Osaka or Nagoya by JR express trains.

access map

1) to Kumano Hayatama Shrine (train +bus or walk from JR Shingu Station)
2) to Kumano Nachi Shrine (train +bus from JR Kii-Katsuura or Nachi Station)
3) to Kumano Hongu Shrine (train + bus from JR Kii-Tanabe or JR Shingu Station)

2. Access to Kumano Area

access train, plane

By train
From Nagoya: Take JR express “Wide View Nanki” and get off at JR Shingu or Kii-Katsuura Station.
From Osaka (or Kyoto): Take JR express “Kuroshio” and get off at JR Kii-Tanabe, Kii-Katsuura or Shingu Station.
Note: If you use JR Tokai, you can purchase a discount pass called “Nanki-Kumano Kodo Free Kippu.”

By airplane
JAL flies from Haneda to Nanki-Shirahama Airport three times a day.
A direct bus from Nanki-Shirahama Airport to JR Shingu Station via Hongu Shrine: once a day
If you are planning to stay at the Shirahama beach resort area, purchase a discount ticket called “Toku-toku free Josha-ken (1-day, 2-days, 3-days).” It’s useful for travelers who want to visit Sandan-beki Cliff, Shirahama Beach, Engetsu Island, and so on. In this case, get a local bus (Meiko Bus) from the airport.

1) Kumano Hayatama Shrine & Giant Holy Rock

Shingu Area

The nearest bus stop to Hayatama Shrine is “Gongen-mae.” If you take a bus from Hongu Taisha, get off the bus a few stops before JR Shingu Station. If you are coming from JR Shingu Station, the bus comes every 20 minutes. Or you can walk from the station. It takes 15 minutes.

How to walk around the Shingu Area

Hayatama Shrine is a place to purify the soul. The shrine is right in front of the Kumano River, and is situated close to the coast of the Kumano-nada Sea. This means the shrine is continuously purified by a ceaseless flow of water. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Hayatama Shrine is also known as “Shingu" (New Shrine) because it was moved to its current location from the holy rock1900 years ago! Kamikura Shrine, is about a 30-minute walk to west, where a giant holy rock is enshrined on the top of the hill.

To reach it, I had to conquer 538 really steep stone steps. It was so steep! But eventually, I got there with the help of a wooden walking stick. Whew! The giant rock, Gotobiki Rock, is there and seemed like it would start rolling down the cliff at any second. But as you know, this never happens. The view from the small shrine attached to the rock was stunning. My exertion had not been in vain!

2) Kumano Nachi Shrine & Waterfall


Take a local bus from JR Kii-Katsuura or JR Nachi Station (Kumano Kotsu), because local trains from JR Shingu to Nachi Station are not convenient. I recommend taking a bus to JR Nachi Station and changing there.
Note: If you plan to stay at Kii-Katsuura (hot spring), purchase a 3-day free ticket.

How to walk around the Nachi Area

Nachi Shrine is a place to come when supplicants hope to improve their lives by establishing new connections with someone or something special in the future. After being purified at Hayatama Shrine where their soul will have been completely cleansed and blessed, they next visit Nachi Shrine. Over the centuries people have tended to come here to pray when they are experiencing troubles, in order to 'reset' their lives.

Nachi Shrine and Seiganto-ji Temple, sitting next to one another, have been sacred places for ascetic practice under this famous and holy waterfall. But these days, easy access to Nachi Shrine has turned it into a picturesque sightseeing spot, mainly because of the newly rebuilt three-story pagoda and waterfall photo opportunity.

3) Kumano Hongu Shrine & Giant Torii

Hongu: Bus

The local bus terminals are JR Kii-Tanabe Station (1hr 40 min ride) or JR Shingu Station. (40 min ride). From Kii-Tanabe, take Meiko Bus or Ryujin Bus. From Shingu, take Kumano Kotsu Bus. Get off at Hongu Taisha Mae Bus Stop and walk about a few minutes.

How to Walk around the Hongu Area

After you get off the bus, go straight to Hongu Shrine and then walk to Oyunohara where the giant torii gate stands.


People believed that if you visited all three great shrines in Kumano on foot, your soul would be secured forever.
Hongu Shrine used to be situated on a sandbar of the Kumano River running through the deep forests of the Kumano region. People who visited here cleaned their body in the river, and then prayed. In 1889, a heavy rain drenched the area and damaged most of the shrine buildings. The remaining buildings were moved and rebuilt a bit northwest of the sandbar. Now only a huge torii gate stands here on the grounds to remind us of where the original shrine was located.

The day I visited, this incredible torii gate suddenly appeared in the middle of a rice paddy. The long stone covered approach headed straight toward the gate. I looked at this huge torii for a while, without moving forward. It seemed quite natural that Japanese gods have always had a deep connection with rice cultivation. In the evening I came back here and looked at the torii stretched out across the dark sky. The next morning, I went back to the rice paddy again, and I looked at the torii again. Standing in the morning haze, it was solemn, majestic, and beautiful. And I felt like almost prostrating myself there.
テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行



観光バスを使わずに、個人で熊野三山を巡るルートをご紹介します。 ▶️English page

1 熊野三山の巡り方
2 熊野三山へのアクセスと歩き方
 1) 熊野速玉大社とゴトビキ岩
 2) 熊野那智大社と那智の滝
 3) 熊野本宮大社と大斎原

access train, plane


1) 熊野速玉大社(JR特急 + 新宮駅からバスまたは徒歩)
2) 熊野那智大社(JR特急 + 紀伊勝浦駅または那智駅からバス)
3) 熊野本宮大社(JR特急 + 紀伊田辺駅または新宮駅からバス)

★ 名古屋方面からはJR特急ワイドビュー南紀で、新宮または紀伊勝浦に入ります。JR東海では、お得な切符(南紀熊野古道フリー切符)が販売されています。
★ 京都または新大阪方面からはJR特急くろしおで紀伊田辺、紀伊勝浦、新宮に入ります。

access map


2 熊野三山へのアクセスと歩き方

1) 熊野速玉大社へのアクセス

Shingu Area





2) 熊野那智大社へのアクセス





3) 熊野本宮大社へのアクセス

Hongu: Bus






テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行

Japanese Washi Paper 和紙

Washi paper is quite thin and light, but is very hard to tear and is also waterproof. Because of these characteristics, washi has been used for many daily necessities as well as for important writings in Japan. Shoji (sliding screens), and byobu (folding screens) are both found in houses, and kaishi (paper handkerchiefs, or tissue paper) are always kept handy in pockets. Traditional Japanese umbrellas are made of washi and bamboo. Some washi has been preserved for over 1000 years!


Sankei-en Garden in Summer 夏の三渓園

Sankei-en Garden in summer gives us three fun attractions: a wonderful breeze blowing through fresh green, an elegant lotus pond, and a great chorus of cicadas. Sankei-en, which includes rich merchant Hara Sankei’s former residence and huge gardens, was built about 100 years ago. Hara opened his garden to his neighbors, welcoming them in from the very beginning of its construction. We can see this in old postcards.

テーマ: 神奈川 | ジャンル: 地域情報


上高地は、長野県松本市西部にある標高1500mの景勝地で、北アルプスの谷間を流れる梓川両岸の平坦部です。中心に位置する河童橋から、明神池や大正池などのスポットまでは整備された木道があり、ほとんどアップダウンもないため、快適なハイキングが楽しめます。 ▶️English page

1 上高地の巡り方
2 上高地へのアクセス
3 明神池エリア
4 大正池エリア
5 河童橋エリア
6 ウェストンと上高地
7 嘉門次小屋
8 上高地帝国ホテルのラウンジカフェ

mapKamikochi のコピー

1 上高地の巡り方


2 上高地へのアクセス


3 明神池エリア




4 大正池エリア


5 河童橋エリア


6 ウェストンと上高地

7 嘉門次小屋

さて、この山小屋の創設者は、上高地の名ガイドと讃えられた上條嘉門次(かみじょうかもんじ1847 -1917)です。嘉門次は、1880(明治13)年に明神池の畔に山小屋を建て、真冬のわずかな間に山を下りる他は、一年の大半をここで過ごしました。



8 上高地帝国ホテルのラウンジカフェ


テーマ: 登山・ハイキング | ジャンル: 旅行

Getting around Kamikochi 上高地の巡り方

1. Getting around Kamikochi
2. Access to Kamikochi
3. Myojin-ike Pond Area
4. Taisho-ike Pond Area
5. Kappa-bashi Area
6. Weston and Kamikochi
7. Kamonji Goya
8. Lounge Cafe at Kamikochi Imperial Hotel

1. Getting around Kamikochi
The Northern Japanese Alps has several tall mountains, such as Mt. Yari (3180 m) and Mt. Hotaka (3190 m). Kamikochi, commanding a great view of these mountains, sits at the upper reaches of the Azusa River. There are two main hiking courses from the famous Kappa-bashi Bridge: the Taisho-ike Pond Course going down to the southwest along the river, and the Myojin-ike Pond Course walking up to the east. And it takes about only one hour each from Kappa-bashi to Myojin-ike or Taisho-ike Pond. If you are the type of person who likes walking along the water and viewing beautiful mountains, but hesitate to climb up a mountain path, Kamikochi Hiking is for you. This hiking course along the Azusa River is well maintained and almost flat.

At Hodaka Shrine just in front of Myojin-ike Pond, they hold a special Shinto ritual on October 8 every year. Shinto maidens perform a ritual dance, and priests get on a small boat and go around the pond (details are below). A very famous mountain guide, Kamijo Kamonji, had a hut near Myojin-ike Pond. Now, the great-great-grandson of Kamonji runs a restaurant and B&B in the same location. When you get there, please try their tasty grilled fish: It’s nice and soft and easy to eat...bones and all.
After stopping by the shrine and its inner pond, I crossed the river on a rope bridge. When I turned around to look, Mt. Myojin was magnificent against the blue sky. Hiking trails flank both sides of the Azusa River, but “Ugan” (go up to the left from Kappa-bashi Bridge) has more viewpoints along the way.

mapKamikochi のコピー

2.Access to Kamikochi (see this page, too)

★Direct Bus:
1) Keio Bus from Sinjuku West Exit, Tokyo (5hrs in the morning, 7hrs at night)
2) Meitetdu Bus from Nagoya (5hrs)
3) Hankyu Bus from Osaka (6hrs 30min)
4) Alpico Bus from Omiya (8hrs)
★Local Bus:
Alpico Bus from Matsumoto Station (2hrs)

Click on the titles to watch a video.

3. Myojin-ike Pond Area
Myojin-ike Pond is an hour's walk from Kappa-bashi Bridge. I walked north along the right riverbank. Hodaka Shrine, which protects the entire area, sits beside the pond. And the pond sits just below the cliffs of Mt. Myojin. The sheer surface of the rock cliffs and the dead trees from past volcanic eruptions are clear examples of the intense nature of Kamikochi. But on this day, we had very nice weather. A blue sky and beautiful greenery reflected on the pond's crystal-clear surface. In the middle of the winter, the lowest temperatures fall below 20℃. But even so, the water doesn’t freeze completely due to an underground stream that continuously flows into the pond.
I sat on the banks of the pond in the early morning before the shrine’s annual ritual on October 8. I was just fascinated by the mystical beauty of Kamikochi and this very tranquil setting.

Hodaka Shrine

Hodaka Shrine, situated alongside Myojin-ike Pond, has a special Shinto ritual on October 8th every year. It is a rite to offer up prayers for mountain victims and to give thanks to God. Shinto priests prepare rice, sake, vegetables, fruits, and many other things to offer. People who take part in the ritual flock to the small shrine before 10 AM. At 11 o’clock, a large crowd gathers around Myojin-ike Pond to observe the rite.
First, a Shinto priest purifies all present. He then recites Norito (Shinto prayers), and everyone worships together. After that, two Shinto maidens offer up a dance to God. Their dance, nice and slow, relieves the tension of the whole of the ritual. At the end of the rite, priests, musicians, and maidens move to Myojin-ike Pond and ride in two classic-style boats. The boats move smoothly over the surface of the pond, as if protected by the arms of God.

4. Taisho-ike Pond Area
The wooden path connects Kamikochi Bus Terminal and Taisho-ike Pond, which was formed by a volcanic eruption in 1915. As I walked above the Azusa River, I also enjoyed the view of the beautiful mountains covered in morning mist. One hour later, I reached the shore of this large pond, which rippled on its surface, reflecting the mountain scenery behind it. I took a deep breath and gained energy and vigor from these beautiful natural surroundings.

5. Kappa-bashi Bridge Area
Kappa-bashi Bridge is the busiest spot in Kamikochi, and sometimes feels like the famous Shibuya Crossing intersection. People are always coming and going, taking pictures near or on the bridge, having a break during their hikes, and just sitting and enjoying the beautiful views. But after dark comes a tranquil silence.
I felt a mysterious moment between the daytime and night at Kappa-bashi Bridge. In the story “Kappa” written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a Kappa (water sprite) appears near this bridge probably at such a moment.

6. Weston and Kamikochi
A British missionary, Walter Weston (1861-1940), made a successful ascent of the Japanese Alps in 1893 guided by a local hunter, Kamijo Kamonji. They remained lifelong friends. Later, in 1896, Weston published a book “Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps” in the U.K., and introduced the charms of Kamikochi to Europe.

7. Kamonji Goya
Kamonji Goya is a small restaurant and guesthouse in front of Myojin-ike Pond, Kamikochi. The most popular dish here is a grilled freshwater fish (Iwana-no-shioyaki 岩魚の塩焼き). If you have ever enjoyed their Japanese grilled fish, you know that the taste of the fish is very different from regular grilled fish. It’s very special. The meat is soft and sweet, the flavor is rich and deep. And the whole body including head, tail and bones will melt in your mouth. So delicious!
In this video, you can see how they prepare and cook the original grilled fish in Kamonji Goya. You might find a secret recipe through it.

A famous mountain guide, Kamijo Kamonji (1847-1917), built this house in 1880, and spent most of the latter half of his life here.
He knew every single detail of the Kamikochi area. So, Kamonji sometimes acted as a guide for foreign travelers. A British missionary, Walter Weston (1861-1940), was one of them. Weston reached the summit of the mountains around Kamikochi and wrote a book called “Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps” in 1896. European countries came to know about Kamikochi with this book as a start.
I chatted with the great-grandson of Kamonji. He talked to me about the character of Kamonji and what his life here was like.

8. Lounge Cafe at Kamikochi Imperial Hotel
Kamikochi Imperial Hotel is between Kappa-bashi and Taisho-ike Pond. The red triangular gables of the hotel building make a striking contrast with the beautiful greenery. The stone built foundation creates a stately appearance. Lounge café “Grindelwald” has a huge mantelpiece in the center of the room, and it offers a cozy warm fire for visitors when the days are cold.
I started the hike from Kappa-bashi Bridge toward Taisho-ike Pond in the early morning and had a nice hot coffee here on the way back to our hotel. The hot coffee, made from the crystal water of the Japanese Alps, warmed my body and soul.
テーマ: 登山・ハイキング | ジャンル: 旅行

Japanese Lacquer Ware 漆器

Lacquer ware (Japanese traditional tableware) is known for its beautiful gloss and unique colors. By lacquering the wood repeatedly, the utensils become stronger and stronger. Lacquered items have been used in Japan for more than 1500 years, providing excellent durability, heat retention, and an antibacterial function. Like many traditional Japanese craft items, it perfectly combines function with beauty.

テーマ: 日本文化 | ジャンル: 学問・文化・芸術
Tag: 漆器


白川郷は、遠く白山を望み、荘川の畔にたたずむ岐阜県の村落です。江戸時代から受け継がれてきた合掌造りの集落は、1976(昭和51)年に国の重要建造物群保存地区に選定された後、1995(平成7)年にはユネスコの世界文化遺産に登録されました。 ▶️English page

1 白川郷の巡り方
2 白川郷へのアクセス
3 合掌の宿・孫右エ門
4 冬は民宿、春から夏はそば処・山本屋
5 白川郷最大の合掌造り民家・和田家住宅

1 白川郷の巡り方


2 白川郷へのアクセス


3 合掌の宿・孫右エ門


宿泊予約(TEL: 05769-6-1167, FAX: 05769-6-1851)

4 冬は民宿、春から夏はそば処・山本屋


5 白川郷最大の合掌造り民家・和田家住宅


テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行

Getting around Shirakawa-go Village 白川郷の巡り方

1. Getting around Shirakawa-go Village
2. Access to Shirakawa-go
3. Gassho-zukuri Inn "Magoemon"
4. Restaurant in spring and summer, guesthouse in winter, “Yamamoto-ya
5. Wada House, Biggest in Shirakawa-go

1. Getting around Shirakawa-go Village.
Shirakawa-go, nestled in at the edge of the Shokawa River, is famous for its Gassho-zukuri (houses with thatched roofs) village. From the village, there is a fine view of snow-covered Mt. Hakusan. The uniquely shaped houses and their roofs have been passed down and protected from generation to generation since 400 years ago. In 1976 the village was selected as a national preservation district for these historic buildings, and then was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The entrance to Shirakawa-go is “Seseragi Park” where there is a bus terminal and car parking. To get into the village, you will cross a pedestrian bridge over the Shokawa River. The town's main street runs parallel to the river, which divides the village; the mountains to the east and the river to the west. The east side of town has lots of shops, restaurants, and old houses. The west side is relatively calm and peaceful.


2. Access to Shirakawa-go
1) Meitetsu/ Gifu Bus from Nagoya (2hrs 50min; reservation needed)
2) Nohbi Bus from Takayama (50min)
3) Kaetsuno Bus from Takaoka (2hrs)
4) Hokuriku Teshudo or Nohbi Bus from Kanazawa (1hr 15min; reservation needed)

Click on the titles to watch a video.

3. Gassho-zukuri (houses with thatched roofs) Inn “Magoemon”
Magoemon, a typical Gassho-zukuri house, is a riverside inn located in the west side of Shirakawa-go. They charge just a little over 10,000 yen a night, including two meals. They only have a communal lavatory and bathroom, but we didn’t feel stress because not many people stayed there that night, and everyone was friendly.
At the entrance, there is a wooden board to hit to inform them when a visitor has arrived. The first room is a wide-open tatami mat room with a traditional fireplace. We had dinner and breakfast here. Several small rooms next to this dining room are guest rooms. Our room was down the hall and about 10 square meters. It was simple but very neat and clean. Ouside the sliding doors, there was a wooden veranda with a small table and two straw cushions. We really enjoyed a tranquil time here in the evening and the morning, looking outside and watching people passing by.

By the way, in this village, the head of a family passes on their name from generation to generation, and so did the name of “Magoemon.” But the owner told me that custom was ended several decades ago. No matter what people try to do to preserve the old ways, our life style seems to change, little by little, doesn't it?
After the completion of a new expressway, access to Shirakawa-go has become much easier than before. More than a million visitors stop by this mysterious remote spot each year. And at the same time, the life of the residents has changed step by step. Most of the tourists who visit this village spend only a few hours here, and leave after a quick walk around and taking several snap shots. They don’t know how beautiful it is before sunset and after sunrise, how diligent and tidy the local people are, and how peacefully time is flowing under a sky full of stars. If you have a chance to visit here, please enjoy the nature of Shirakawa-go by staying overnight!
For reservations, contact: TEL 05769-6-1167 FAX 05769-6-1851

4. Restaurant in spring and summer, guesthouse in winter, “Yamamoto-ya”

The World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-go, is famous for its Gassho-zukuri houses (a traditional house with a rafter roof). Yamamoto-ya, located in the heart of Shirakawa-go, is a lovely Gassho-zukuri house. Luckily, we happened to find this amazing restaurant just after we arrived here. We ordered bukkake (cold soba with sesame and pickled plum) and a Lady’s Set, which includes cold soba, a small dish of stewed tofu and beef, and three pieces of bracken mochi. The soba was quite thin and felt good going down. The stewed tofu and beef was also good.
Yamamoto-ya serves soba at lunchtime (11:00 AM to 2:00 PM) from mid April to late November. And in winter, it becomes a guesthouse. You can make a reservation for an overnight stay by phone or through the Internet. They begin taking reservations for December in November. Reservation: TEL 05769-6-1064

5. Wada House, Biggest in Shirakawa-go
The Wada Family had been one of the leading families of the village from generation to generation. Some parts of the Wada House are open to the public today, and we can see a little of what their lives were like in the old days.
Since 1573, the head of the Wada Family had passed down the name of “Yoemon” therefore protecting the family lineage. Short of land for cultivation in Shirakawa-go, people worked on sericulture in addition to growing rice and vegetables. Lots of workers were necessary for this silkworm business, and kids were engaged in the work from a young age. Only the first son could marry and inherit the family estate. Other children, who were born out of wedlock, were raised in their mother’s house. The Wada's had a big family and that was the base of their home business.
In addition, people secretly produced gunpowder and sold them to feudal clans. Shirakawa-go was an isolated spot located in a deep mountain area. The Wada family kept the rights for this gunpowder commerce and did well with this business, as well.

The Gassho-zukuri (thatched roof houses in Shirakawa-go) are reasonable and functional. They people made gunpowder under the floor, lived on the first floor, and kept silkworms on the upper floors. Within the living space, they had a traditional-style fireplace. The fire for cooking made the house warm, and made the building stronger. The angled roof is good for heavy snow, and also good for collecting sunshine because of its wide surface. The roof itself is quite simple. It is made of logs that are tied together with vines of trees. So, shaking from storms or earthquakes doesn’t come down to the pillars and the base. The house protects itself!
By the way, the thatched roof needs to be repaired after winter, although a total re-thatching should be done every 30-50 years. The partial repair is usually done in spring. The Wada’s storehouse contains various farm tools and dry grass for the restoration of the roof.
テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行


宮島1泊2日または日帰りの旅の巡り方をご紹介します。 ▶️English page

1 宮島の巡り方
2 宮島へのアクセス
3 歩くだけで楽しい 町家通り
4 厳島神社
5 千畳閣
6 厳島神社を管理していたお寺 大聖院(だいしょういん)
7 五百羅漢
8 信仰の山 弥山(みせん)
9 紅葉の名所 紅葉谷公園
10 宮島のベスト・ビューカフェ『牡蠣祝』

1 宮島の巡り方

map: Itsukushima Sheine

2 宮島へのアクセス
1) フェリー:JR広島駅から広電(路面電車)または山陽本線で宮島口へ。そこから徒歩数分で宮島口桟橋に着きます。宮島港まではJR西日本または宮島松大汽船のフェリーで10分。
2) 世界遺産航路:平和記念公園、元安川桟橋からはひろしま世界遺産航路で50分。



3 町家通り

4 厳島神社


5 千畳閣



6 大聖院



7 五百羅漢



8 弥山


9 紅葉谷公園


10 カフェ「牡蠣祝」

テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行

Getting around Miyajima 宮島の巡り方

1. Getting around Miyajima
2. Access to Miyajima
3. Fun street of Miyajima: Machiya Street
4. Itsukushima Shrine
5. Senjokaku Hall
6. Daisho-in Temple
7. Mt. Misen
8. Momijidani Park
9. Cafe with best view in Miyajima "Kakiwai"

1. Getting around Miyajima
Miyajima is also called Itsukushima Island. The name means "Place where God came down." Because of this, the people strongly believed in the holiness of this island. Besides famous Itsukushima Shrine, there are quite a few attractive tourist destinations here. If you stay in Miyajima, you can visit all of them.

map: Itsukushima Sheine

2. Access to Miyajima
There are two ways to get to Miyajima Island:
1) Take Hiroden tram or JR Sanyo Honsen Line from JR Hiroshima to Miyajima-guchi, and walk to the ferry platform. Both Miyajima Matsudai Kisen and JR West Ferry connect Miyajima (A 10-minute ferry ride)
2) Take this route from Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima to Miyajima (50 minutes)

The main tourist destination spots are below:
Click on the titles to watch a video.

3. Machiya Street
In the old days, Miyajima Island was protected as a place of God. So, people were not allowed to land here, and even Shinto priests weren't permitted on the island, except during special rituals. Ancient Japanese offered a prayer to Mt. Misen (the place where God came down) from a distance. It was only from around the year 1300 that residents begin to live here. After that, the approach to the shrine, streets, and a town were built. Nowadays, the bustling shopping street of Omotesando, Machiya-dori with its old houses, Taki-koji with big houses of Shinto priests, and a path to Momijidani Park lined with hand-craft shops, are all interesting to see. We can feel the energy from world-wide visitors and the daily lives of locals at the same time.

4. Itsukushima Shrine
Around 850 years ago, Tairano Kiyomori (samurai and political leader; 1118-1181), sponsored the building of this "Shrine on the Sea". The original building that he had built was completed in around 1168.
The fine view of Itsukushima Shrine changes minute by minute, as the sunshine, wind, and the ebb and flow of the tide changes. At high tide, the reflection of the vermilion building flickers on the surface of the sea. While at low tide, a large sandy beach appears. The original formal procedure to worship here at Itsukushima Shrine was to enter the shrine through the big famous red torii gate on a special boat.

5. Senjokaku Hall
Senjokaku, a hall 1,000 tatami mats in size, is on the top of a hill commanding a view of Itsukushima Shrine. And from down below, the hall and five-story pagoda next to the hall make beautiful scenery from Itsukushima Shrine. Many Japanese visit here at the end of their final destination of their Miyajima tours. They enjoy a nice breeze and view, have a good stretch, and relax on the wide-open wood floor. When I visited here in late November, the surrounding hills and fields were cloaked in autumn colors and a comfortable breeze was blowing through the hall.

6. Daisho-in Temple
Daisho-in Temple was under the administration of Itsukushima Shrine until the end of the Edo era (1603-1868). It is said that it was established by Kukai (774-835), but there is no historical evidence to prove that. Daisho-in is located to the south of Itsukushima Shrine, a 20-minute walk from Miyajima Pier. Go to the backstreets of Itsukushima Shrine (called Taki-koji), and you will see the temple buildings sitting at the foot of Mt. Misen (535m).
I visited this temple in late November. The autumn leaves surrounding the temple buildings were at their best. Walking up the stone steps, I really enjoyed a great view of the inlet.

7. Mt. Misen
Mt. Misen is considered to be a sacred mountain, standing north of Itsukushima Shrine. For thousands of years, Japanese climbed Mt. Misen only as an object of their faith. They left their footprints here and there along the mountain paths. In 806, legendary Buddhist priest, Kukai, stopped by here and lit a sacred fire.
On a morning in late November, we went up Mt. Misen. The sun was completely hidden behind thick clouds. So I thought we wouldn’t have a nice view from the top of the mountain. But surprisingly, in spite of my dire prediction, I saw an unexpected fine view in all directions from the peak. The islands of the inland sea of Japan were mysterious and beautiful and seemed to be floating in the sparkling sea.
There are basically four ways to climb Mt. Misen: hiking along the river from Momijidani Park (a 90-minute climb), walking along a long path following stone steps from Daisho-in Temple (100 minutes), a gentle slope from Omoto Park (120 minutes), and a ropeway (20 minutes) plus walking (60 minutes). The autumn leaves of Mt. Misen are at their best from mid to late November.

8. Momojidani Park
Momijidani Park is in a valley at the mountain foot of Mt. Misen. There are about 700 Japanese maple trees scattered around the park, and they create a stunning view of autumn foliage. Here, the subtle gradation of red, orange, and yellow are just breathtaking! Trees are on the slopes, on the flat paths, and along the river. The park is a 20-minute walk from Miyajima Pier, and a 15-minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine. The best time to see the autumn leaves is usually mid to late November.

9. Cafe "Kakiwai"
Café “Kakiwai” sits on a hill commanding a magnificent view of Miyajima's five-story pagoda and the inland sea of Japan. The open terrace and the large-windowed wide dining room are simple, created from an old house. We can get a breath-taking view from every table. You might enjoy a glass of white wine along with marinated oysters cooked in oil, or artistically decorated cakes with tea. The café provides a nice and quiet time remote from the hustle and bustle of this very busy and crowded tourist site. This is the antenna shop of an oyster restaurant “Kakiya” at Omotesando Street in Miyajima. The main restaurant is very popular among both locals and tourists.
テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行


軽井沢の主な観光スポットは、軽井沢駅周辺、旧軽井沢、星野エリア、塩沢エリアの4カ所です。1日ですべてを回るのはきついですが、2−3日の滞在期間中に、1−2カ所巡れば、少しずつ違う軽井沢を体験することができます。 ▶️English page

Map: Karuizawa: jp




1 軽井沢駅周辺



2 旧軽井沢









3 星野エリア










テーマ: ゆっくり、自由に、一人旅 | ジャンル: 旅行

Gettinget around Karuizawa by bicycle 軽井沢の巡り方

1. Getting around Karuizawa
2. Access to Karuizawa
3. Rental cycle information
4. Near Karuizawa Station
5. Kyu-Karuizawa
6. Hoshino Area

1. Getting around Karuizawa
Karuizawa is a beautiful highland town situated at the foot of Mt. Asama. Cycling around the popular tourist destinations in Karuizawa is a good way to enjoy the nice, cool, pleasant breeze. There are a few rental bike shops near JR Karuizawa Station (see below). They will give you a cycling map, some useful information about recommended destinations, nice restaurants, and whatever else you need.

The main tourist destination spots are in these four areas below:


2. Access to Karuizawa
JR East: JR Hokuriku Shinkansen (from Tokyo, 1H10M)
Highway Bus: Seibu Bus (from Ikebukuro East Exit, 3H), Keikyu Bus (from Haneda Airport, Yokohama Station, Shinagawa Prince Hotel, 4H)

3. Rental cycle information
Near Karuizawa Station: Cycle Mate Q, Ichimura Rinten, Prince Hotel East
Hotel service: Hotel Marroad, Hotel Cypress Karuizawa, Hoshino-ya Karuizawa

The places I reccomend are listed below.
Click on the titles to watch a video.

3. Near Karuizawa Station

Kumoba-ike Pond
Although it’s chilly in the morning and evening, Karuizawa in the daytime in late September is mild, at around 20 degrees centigrade. We rented bicycles near JR Karuizawa Station, and went up north to the intersection of “Shinonome”(東雲). Then we turned left and rode our bicycles fast. The road was nice and straight and went through a beautiful forest. It was really refreshing. It took about 10 minutes from the station area to Roppon Tsuji (六本辻). At this point, six streets cross. Kumoba Pond is just a few seconds from there.
This narrow pond has a circling path that is a 20-minute-walk course. There is also a big parking lot near there. We visited Kumoba Pond on Autumn Equinox Day; Japanese maples had just started their showing their fall hues. Ducks were swimming and nibbling at things in the water. The sunlight filtered down through the trees and warmed me. Leaves were swaying in the gentle breeze.

4. Kyu-Karuizawa

Manpei Hotel
Manpei Hotel is one of the few remaining elegant classic hotels in Japan. John Lennon stayed at this hotel with his family as a summer retreat. Starting in 1976, he enjoyed summer vacations here for four consecutive years. Their room was always #128. The hotel museum exhibits a hotel piano he played during his stays.
By the way, Manpei Hotel is the first hotel that offered the Western style service in Karuizawa. In 1886 A.C. Shaw (a British Missionary), stopped by Karuizawa by chance. He really loved this place and asked for a room to the owner of an inn. The owner, Sato Manpei, thought it might be a good chance to start a new business for foreign customers. He studied Western customs and eventually opened this hotel in 1894. The hotel museum also displays various items that show the hotel's history.
Autumn leaves in Karuizawa are at their best in late October to early November. I enjoyed a bike ride and stopped by Manpei Hotel, going through a beautiful forest colored with autumn tints.

Kruizawa Shaw Memorial Chapel
Today, Karuizawa is one of Japan's most popular summer resort areas, situated at the foot of Mt. Asama. But amazingly, nobody realized how beautiful it was until around 130 years ago.
In 1885, an Anglican missionary, Alexander Croft Shaw (1846-1902), passed through Karizawa and found it to be a fine summer retreat. Soon he had a cottage built to enjoy the comfortable highland breeze; a wonderful escape from the hot, humid, Tokyo weather. His cottage was simple, yet functional. Its most noteworthy point was that it was not blocked from the street in any way. It was open and welcoming. Shaw tried to develop a good relationship with the locals. Shaw Memorial Chapel and Shaw Memorial House show this, and so way of building became the most common style in the town.
Shaw was the first foreigner to build a summer cottage in Karuizawa. He fell in love with the beautiful highlands and started to bring his family here from Tokyo in 1886. They enjoyed long summer vacations every year here from then on. He told everybody who would listen that Karuizawa was a beautiful town and that its mild climate extremely comfortable in summer. At first, foreign residents of Tokyo joined him. And then Japanese noble people, high-ranking politicians, and business executives came and began to spend their summers here, as well.

St. Paul’s Catholic Church
Walking through the popular “Church Street” shopping mall on Kyu-karuizawa's Main Street, you come upon the St. Paul Catholic Church. One day on a beautiful autumn morning, I witnessed a couple getting married here. As I watched, a colorful leaf fluttered down onto the train of the bride's beautiful white wedding dress.
St. Paul Catholic Church was established in 1935 by French people living in Karuizawa, along with the efforts and donations of other Catholic believers. Amongst them, Czech American architect, Antonin Raymond, and his artisan wife French-American Noemi (both devout followers), worked together for the construction of the building and its ornamentation.

Former Mikasa Hotel
The former Mikasa Hotel, located at the foot of Mt. Asama in Nagano, was once a fashionable social gathering parlor. In 1886, a Canadian-born British missionary, A. C. Shaw, visited Karuizawa unexpectedly and immediately fell in love with it. He and his family, accompanied by his friends, spent the whole summer there. After that, Karuizawa became (and still is) a popular summer resort for foreign residents, Japanese business executives who have lived abroad, and even the Imperial Family and other noble people. The high class Mikasa Hotel was born to the satisfaction of such 'high-level' people. The number of rooms totaled only 30 and the hotel was equipped with a swimming pool, flush toilets, beautiful chandeliers lit by electricity, and other extravagant interior touches that decorated each room. The hotel even offered its guests a deluxe horse-drawn carriage service from Karuizawa Station to the hotel!

5. Hoshino Area

Hoshino-ya (Hoshino Resort)
Hoshinoya Karuizawa, one of the highest quality resorts in Japan, has 77 guest rooms in a small, newly created village. Rooms are arranged in lines along a pure stream running through a valley between hills. Guests are picked up at the gate, driven to reception, and are then checked in at a room where mysterious music comes floating up from the floor and fills your senses. After being served a cup of tea, a staff guide drives you to your room in the village. You move from your daily life into their unique world. During this process, you will unconsciously pass through several barriers they have consciously set up. Inside the village, you feel you are a visitor on the first day, then feel like a resident on the second day, and eventually feel that you are a villager who has been living here for a long time!
Your room, without TV and newspapers, provides a perfect time for relaxing. Enjoying a spa, reading books on a big sofa at the library, and just idling the day away are all you need to do! They also offer some activities, such as Eco Tours, bird watching, and various seasonal events like moon viewing.
We got up early and had a nice walk in the morning, then went out and spent time outside the village on bicycles. We came back to the village in the afternoon, and then relaxed at the spa and library.

Karuizawa Kogen Church
Karuizawa Kogen Church is a 5-minute-drive north along Route 146, from Naka-Karuizawa Station on the Shinano Tetsudo (Line). The church, surrounded by beautiful greenery, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Karuizawa. But it was not a church at the beginning. In 1921, Christian evangelist, Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930) named a small lecture hall “Hoshino Yugaku-do” as a place of learning and enjoyment. A lot of highly educated people gathered here and had passionate talks about art and literature. After WWII, the lecture hall changed its name to Karuizawa Kogen Church. Today, it is not only a place for worship, but also a place where concerts and weddings are held. Hoshino Hot Springs, Wild Bird Sanctuary, and other activities are nearby.
Many couples marry in this church during holidays. When I was here, a minister was talking to the bride in her wedding dress in front of the church door. The scene took place in the midst of beautiful fresh greenery. Parents and friends were waiting for her appearance patiently inside the door.

Stone Church
Stone Church in Karuizawa was built in commemoration of Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930) who was the foremost leader of the Non-church Movement, Japanese author, and Christian evangelist. The church is only 20+ years old, but it looks like it has been here from the ancient days. The building, designed by an American architect, Kendrick Kellogg (1934-), integrates its surroundings naturally. Kellogg was careful to make sure that the building would not change the surroundings: air flow, water stream, and the slope of the land. When I first visited here in around 1990, I was touched and very impressed with this novel design. I felt that the building looked futuristic but also very primitive. Kellogg's concept was that the repetition of stone and glass arches would symbolize male and female, bride and groom. At the ground level is a chapel, and below that is a memorial hall of Uchimura Kanzo.

Hotel Bleston Court
The Hoshino Resorts area in Karuizawa is a gorgeous highland resort that includes hot springs, hotels, churches and restaurants. Hotel Bleston Court is in the center of the complex. Couples who get married have a wedding party and stay there with family and friends. They enjoy a luxurious time together. Many people also spend time in Karuizawa in autumn and even winter, as well as from spring to summer. That is because beautiful autumn leaves, hot springs at the foot of Mt. Asama, and a mystical snowscape can all be enjoyed.
When I was at the lounge café of the hotel, lots of guests were waiting for their wedding party. The sofa at the open terrace was quite comfortable. I relaxed and sipped a nice hot coffee, viewing colorful autumn leaves and listening to them rustling in the breeze.

Sezon Museum of Modern Art
Karuizawa in late September was at a calm, peaceful, and comfortable time after the din of summer. Sezon Museum of Modern Art sits in a forest, and was actually designed as a “Museum in deep green.” We pedaled our bicycles up a gentle slope in the woody area heading north for 30 minutes from Naka-Karuizawa, and finally reached the gate of this museum. After passing the gate, we walked through a beautiful forest. It was nice and refreshing. The murmur of a small stream in the museum garden, and the sound from the leaves rustling in the wind, were comfortable to our ears. The temperature was lower than 10 degree centigrade in the morning and the autumn leaves had just started to turn. We had a pleasant time sitting at the open-air terrace of the museum café.
テーマ: ゆっくり、自由に、一人旅 | ジャンル: 旅行

Engetsu Island Sunset 円月島の夕日

Engetsu Island is a popular sightseeing spot, known for its nice sunset view. There is a perfect circle in the center of the island, and its shape is quite attractive. So, a lot of people visit here to enjoy the gorgeous sunset that forms behind Engetsu Island.
The kanji of Engetsu means 'perfect moon'. Someone thought the hole in this island looked like a full moon and so called it Engetsu Island (Perfect Moon Island).
The day I visited, the reflection of the sunlight was so beautiful on the super-clear water. The ripples that lapped up on the beach created a low-toned murmur. I saw some people gathering sea urchins on the rocky shore, waiting for the sunset. I overheard someone say that the tide pools on the rocks swarm with sea urchins...