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Blue Sky Guesthouse
The Kumano Kodo

Conveniently located in Hongu, one of the main spots along The Kumano Kodo path, this simple ‘minshuku’ (Japanese style B&B) is our favourite place to stay while visiting the region to walk this ancient pilgrimage route. The gracious owner, Naoya-san, speaks good English and goes to great lengths to create a homely and friendly atmosphere in typical ‘omotenashi’ (excellent Japanese hospitality) fashion, ensuring you always feel welcome here.

While Blue Sky Guesthouse may not be as luxurious as the other hotels that you'll most likely be indulging in throughout your tour of Japan, it delivers exactly what it says on the tin: it’s spotlessly clean and includes everything you need for a comfortable night or two.

The interiors are simple yet effective, staying true to traditional Japanese design with their woven tatami-mats and roll-out ‘futons’. Each room comes with a private, well-designed bathroom – a rare treat in a Japanese B&B – and an atmospheric forest view, which lends a strong sense of place.

This charming property’s central position in Hongu makes it an ideal base for exploring the Kii Peninsula, following in the footsteps of ‘samurai’ along the revered hiking route and soaking your aching muscles in the nearby ‘onsen’ (hot springs) within the UNESCO-protected town of Yunomine. The sacred Hongu Taisha shrine is easily reachable from here (approximately just a 15 minute walk away) and the scenic routes to the other two famous Shinto shrines (Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha) make for a challenging but rewarding hike, or a picturesque drive through the mythical mountainous terrain.

We recommend adding in overnight stops at Mount Koya, the holy Buddhist alpine basin, or Osaka, the buzzy city famed for its neon-lit nightlife, before or after staying here as they lie only a few hours away by bullet train and would make for a well-rounded tour of this fascinating country.

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