The Kumano area mainly consists of three shrines; Kumano Hongu, Kumano Hayatama and Kumano Nachi. Each of them offers specific sacred roles. Kumano Hayatama Shrine is said to purify one’s sins from previous lives, Kumano Nachi Shrine is said to provide the grace of the gods in one’s present life and Kumano Hongu Shrine is said to give salvation in one’s future lives.

When I visited Kumano Hongu, I went to Wakayama World Heritage Center. Staff explained how best to see around Kumano Kodo. The place was informative and cozy.

By following the staff’s advice, I took a bus to Iwachi Guchi stop and went through part of the Kumano pilgrimage route to Kumano Hongu Shrine. It took an hour and a half.

Kumano Kodo

Kumano Kodo

Signboard to viewing point

Signboard to viewing point

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Oyunohara’s big gate

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Sangen Jaya-ato

The most popular route is from Hosshinmon Oji to Kumano Hongu Shrine, which is a 3-hour walk over 7 km of gently sloping terrain.

Hosshinmon Oji was the entrance to Kumano Hongu Shrine. Emperors and nobilities purified themselves here by visiting Kumano Hongu Shrine.

A bus runs from Kumano Hongu Shrine to Hosshinmon oji every hour from 7:00am to 2:00pm.

Yatagarasu, three-legged sacred crow is a symbol of the Kumano Hongu Shrine. The legendary Jinmu Emperor was guided to start a new country by Yatagarasu.

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Banner of Yatagarasu

Kumano Hongu Shrine has cypress bark roofs with solemn atmosphere.

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Kumano Hongu Shrine

励, Chinese character of the year

励, Chinese character of the year

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Yatagarasu’s black post

Oyunohara, where the Kumano Hongu Shrine used to be located, means place purified by sacred water and people prayed for rain during drought. After a flood in 1889, Kumano Hongu Shrine was moved to its current location. We can still see its big gate and vast old site.

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Big gate

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Big gate from near river