JAPAN Inspiration Gallery 11 Japan
Back to Listing

The Kumano Kodo

While the ancient pilgrimage route ‘The Kumano Kodo’ hovers relatively under the radar on an international scale, it is well-renowned in Japan. Recently, this network of spiritual walks has begun to catch on with the rest of the world after being officially ‘twinned’ with the popular ‘Camino de Santiago’ in Spain and awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO in 2004; both of which have understandably won it wider recognition.

The atmospheric trail twists, turns and criss-crosses its way through the unspoiled mountainous region of the Kii Peninsula - not too far from Mount Koya or Osaka – and has been well-trodden by pilgrims, samurai and even emperors for well over a thousand years.

Follow in their footsteps and explore this mythical area for yourself, visiting the sacred triangle of Shinto shrines (Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha), en route. As you walk along the natural pathways, you are bound to feel the calming quality of the remote Japanese countryside: we guarantee that immersing yourself in the verdant woodland valleys and passing crashing waterfalls will make you realise exactly why the natural world is so deeply respected in Japan. Here, the landscape is especially revered as many believe that the mountains themselves are ‘kamis’ (gods), with some even referring to this area as the “holy ground where gods dwell”.

In our opinion, the trek from Hosshinmon-oji, the "gate of awakening of the aspiration to enlightenment" to the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine is the most relaxed option (taking approximately 2 – 3 hours). Overall, we would say that it's suitable for most capabilities but it's worth noting that some parts are relatively steep and the rugged pathways are latticed with roots every now and again, so care should be taken.

Since luxury accommodation is not easy to come by here, we recommend staying in one of the few charming guesthouses in Hongu. Despite this sleepy hamlet’s particularly tranquil feel, its imposing yet welcoming ‘torii’ gate (that marks the spot where the original Hongu Taisha shrine once stood) holds the crown as the tallest of these structures in the world.

If you need a break from hiking in the spectacular outdoors here, make sure to visit the nearby ‘onsen’ (hot spring) town of Yunomine. Lying just a 5 minute drive away from Hongu, this quaint UNESCO-listed town was discovered about 1,800 years ago and is heralded as one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. Soaking in the soothing, bubbling volcanic water surrounded by little else but billowing steam is just bliss, and is truly the perfect cure to aching muscles.

Kumano Kodo Hongu (3).jpg (1) Kumano Kodo Hongu (3).jpg (1)
Kumano Kodo Hongu (4).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (4).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (1).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (1).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (5).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (5).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (6).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (6).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (7).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (7).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (8).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (8).jpg
Kumano Kodo Hongu (9).jpg Kumano Kodo Hongu (9).jpg
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Client Testimonials

Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka

From our Instagram

"They've spotted us!" 🦒 #OkavangoDelta in #Botswana

One of the most sought-after wilderness destinations in the world. Reigning over 15,000 Square kilometers of land - there's no wonder that its home to 200 different species of mammals!

If you'd like to be in with the chance of spotting one of these for yourselves, get in touch to start planning your safari adventure! 📸 @ravalli1 @mlabgol @mo_naser 
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
As you travel through #Cambodia’s countryside you’re bound to come across some friendly faces like these! 🧡
If you’d like to go off the beaten track in this wonderful country and meet some lovely locals along the way, then please get in touch!
📸 @alesmartan
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
'Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever' 🙏
Today, 2nd October 2019, marks 150 years of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. The celebration of Gandhi Jayanti is observed in India as a national holiday, where ceremonies and tributes are conducted across the nation.
If you would like to celebrate this special time of year in India, do get in touch and let us help you plan a trip for 2020. 🇮🇳
📸 @whatbaublenext_sam
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Wander through the bustling fruit and vegetable markets in #Pondicherry to experience the true essence of #TamilNadu 🇮🇳🥬🍎
Follow our stories for live updates!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Welcome to the gateway to #Asia! #Singapore is the perfect stop over destination 🇸🇬

A colourful city packed full of contrast and a variety of ethnic districts ready to be explored!

#LittleIndia, originally a division of colonial Singapore. Today a vibrant district with a mix of Hindu and Chinese Temples and The House of Tan Teng Niah - one of the last surviving Chinese villas in the Indian enclave

If you'd like a taste of #India and #Singapore on your way to #Asia, get in touch to start planning your multicultural trip!
. 📸 @bellabellalara @travel_with_han @melbrammer_travel @climbintogether

💧#WaAle is calling our name this Monday
Set on a secluded island in the #MerguiArchipelago, this eco resort makes for the perfect tropical escape
If you’re also tempted by these shots of the aquamarine #AndamanSea, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to start planning your trip!
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Glide down #ThePerfumeRiver to experience #Hue’s scenery, passing mausoleums as you go 🍃🌿
📸 Beautifully captured by @soaipham
#Vietnam #AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
🇨🇳 Drift down the #LijiangRiver while touring #China with us to find yourself surrounded by towering karst mountains, mirror-still waterways and sunsets like this 🌅
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
📸 @joelsantosphoto
🇮🇳Reminiscent of a French village, with its bright Mediterranean architecture and flower-laden balconies, it’s no surprise that #Pondicherry (or #Pondi) is nicknamed the ‘Indian Côte d’Azur’ 🇫🇷
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience 

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences

Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist Award 2019
Condé Nast Readers Choice Award 2019