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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.

(日本語はこちら
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

Nachi:Bus

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.

Hongu.png

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.
関連記事
テーマ: 歴史・文化にふれる旅 | ジャンル: 旅行
Traditional Japanese Cloth 日本の布 | Home | 熊野三山の巡り方

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