All About Japan

A Taste of the Kumanokodo Pilgrimage

| Pilgrimage , Hiking
A Taste of the Kumanokodo Pilgrimage

The Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was historically used as a trail for pilgrims, from monks and aesthetics to nobles. For anyone who wants a taste of what it’s like to travel the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail, the Magose Toge Pass is one of the most popular portions of the trail, and one of the easiest to access.

Watch runAway Japan Take on the Magose Toge Trail

Although this portion of the trail is one of the most popular, it can be slippery and dangerous during (and immediately after) rain. And as luck would have it, it was pouring rain the day the runAway team took on the hike!

Although this made for an unforgettable experience for our team (as you'll see as in the video), we highly recommend visitors to the Kumano Kodo put safety first, and avoid dangerous hiking conditions.

As rain pounded down on us, we set off on the trail. The runAway team is all about adventure and pushing our limits, but we did our best to avoid injury—safety was essential if we wanted to successfully complete our planned 50-day journey. The Magose Toge trail is the reportedly the easiest part of the pilgrimage, and on a normal day the hike takes just under three hours. We carefully made our way along the 2 km stone path, doing our best to keep our spirits high despite the weather. Although the weather wasn't what we expected, there are many waterfalls, creeks, and beautiful views along the trail, which motivated us to keep pushing forward.

Sure, we were soggy the entire hike. But there was a level of mystery and magic added to our adventure by the ephemeral mist that enveloped the trees and trail. The route is scattered with lots of mini shrines that look like altars, and many travelers have skillfully stacked rocks to create little monuments. With all of the challenges we were facing, it made us think about the monks who made this trek for centuries with no modern equipment. We had nice rain jackets and boots, and didn’t have to carry our supplies with us. It was interesting to imagine not having the luxuries we had and taking the full route like a monk would do, often in complete solitude.

As we neared our destination, Natalie saw an old torii gate and chose to follow the little side path. Surprisingly, soon after taking the path, we stumbled upon a gorgeous waterfall flowing strongly from high in the mountain. It was the last major site we visited before finishing our hike at Kongoji Temple. The traditional end point for this hike was actually next door at Owase Jinja Shrine, but due to being soaking wet, cold, and exhausted, we got disorientated and ended up in the neighboring temple, not realizing they weren’t one joined location! Still, as is the Japanese way of omotenashi hospitality, we were welcomed out of the rain and given a small gift by the priest here.

See more incredible adventures and get to know the runAway team via the link below!