Mie Wakayama: Kumano Kodo – Matsumoto Toge, Daimon-zaka, Nachi Falls [Trip Day 2] 三重・和歌山:熊野古道・松本峠・大門坂・那智の瀧

  Trip itinerary and map

The second part of our trip would be to various sites on the Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) pilgrimage routes.

We had some good rest at Pension Dolphin (after the overnight bus previous day), and woke up to a beautiful sea view that we didn’t see last night. There’d be a fair bit of driving today so we had arranged to have breakfast early from 7 am. The pension only has about 4 guest rooms, and one group already finished before us.

Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) – Matsumoto Toge (松本峠)

The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes cover most of the Kii Peninsula, with the eastern one starting near Ise Shrine, where we visited yesterday. All these routes and shrines along the way are designated World Heritage sites, and the mountain trails offer for some great hiking opportunities.

For us lazy modern people, there are a few popular sections that only require a few hours or less to walk, where you can get a taste of the ancient pilgrimage route without doing a full multi-week trek. The easiest, but no less attractive trail, is Matsumoto Toge. It’s a very short trail and so convenient that you can basically start near where your car is parked and do a round trip between 1 and 2 hours.

Oni-ga-jo (鬼ヶ城)

A walkway along the coast from the visitor centre leads to an area with some interesting rock formations.

Daimon-zaka (大門坂)

We drove further south, heading to the Kumano Nachi Shrine, which is also where you can find the highest waterfall in Japan – Nachi Falls. It’s possible to save some effort by driving up to the small village on Nachi Mountain, but rather better would be to leave your car at the trail head of Daimon-zaka (there is a large, free car park). Daimon-zaka is another attraction section of the Kumano Kodo route, lined with cobblestones and large trees, and only takes an half-hour walk to reach the village.

Kumano Nachi Shrine (熊野那智大社)

Nachi Falls (那智の瀧)

Shingu City (新宮市)

The nearby Nachi-Katsuura (那智勝浦) has some onsen resorts, but for some cheaper business hotels we had to go slightly further to Shingu City. We stayed at Hotel New Palace which is the newest one in the area, and has plenty of parking spaces.