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The Importance of the Kumano Kodo Trail

Japan’s Kumano Kodo trail has been a pilgrimage route for over a thousand years, once used by people from all walks of life, including emperors and aristocrats. Today, it is walked by adventurers like us here at TSA who want to challenge themselves and immerse themselves in Japanese culture. The area was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage, named Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. The beautiful area features formidable mountains, natural coastlines, massive old trees, and an abundance of waterfalls and scenic rivers.

Along the trail, walkers will find Oji, which are shrines that line the Kumano Kodo to protect and guide pilgrims. These shrines are places of both worship and rest. They are believed to have been created by religious recluses from Yamabushi mountain, who historically served as pilgrimage guides. Historically, they have been sites for important rituals to take place, such as water purification rituals, or places for people to make specific prayers, such as praying for relief from back pain (which may be helpful to utilise depending on your pack size!).

We believe this trail is important to experience for several reasons. At TSA, we want more people to escape their comfort zone so they can experience personal growth, and this experience fulfils this in many ways. First, the overall experience of travelling internationally can be daunting to some (and hopefully exciting too!) but learning about cultures vastly different to ours helps us expand our worldview and become more tolerant, compassionate people. On our Japan tour, you will have the chance to travel with others from our community, so you won’t have to face acculturative stress alone! Second, the hikes our groups go on can be physically challenging, allowing them to feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride when they reach the conclusion of each walk. Finally, adventuring in nature and having bonding group experiences can be majorly beneficial to your mental health, so our Kumano Kodo tour can allow you to flourish physically and mentally.

Kumano Kodo is located in Japan’s Kinki prefecture, with the Southernmost part connecting to the country’s coast on the Pacific Ocean. It is positioned south of Kyoto, which we take the opportunity to explore during our tour as well. Kyoto is home to some beautiful temples and shrines, such as Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, and Higashiyama Jishu-ji, as well as zen gardens (or “karesensui”) that feature gorgeous plant life and mesmerising arrangements of stones and gravel.

We love running our Kumano Kodo adventure tours and everyone who joins us thinks so too! These could be the perfect opportunity for you to break free of your comfortable, repetitive routine and have brand new experiences that are physically challenging, culturally significant and beneficial for your mental health and personal growth. Find out more information about our awesome trip along this gorgeous trail at the link below.


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