Kumano city is located in the south of Mie prefecture. It faces the Kumano Sea and neighboring Wakayama prefecture. Being located in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park, Kumano is blessed with abundant nature and a mild climate. You can also find many sightseeing spots including Tategasaki, Onigajo, Shishiiwa, Shichiri Mihama, Maruyama Senmaida and Hana-no-Iwa-Jinja Shrine.
Kumano Kodo: The Ikkoku Pass, Hirakata Pass, Miura Pass and Kumagaya-michi
This is the course from Kii-Nagashima Kata through the Ikkoku Pass, Hirakata Pass, Miura Pass and Kumagaya-michi, that leads to Miura. With each section being fairly small, the path is flat and easy to follow. Compared to the rest of Kumano Kodo’s more rugged mountain paths, navigating this coastal stretch will allow you plenty of time to recover. You can also enjoy the scenic, panoramic Kumano sea views along this relaxed course. The many islands give rise to the name ‘Matsushima of Kii’. It is also recommended to drop in at the onsen, or explore by foot the quaint seaside towns of Furusato and Dōze.
Onigajo’s caves extend for about 1 km along Kumano’s coast, shaped by the stormy waves and earthquakes over the years. This landscape continues until the southernmost point of this rias coast on the Shima peninsula, before merging into the calm scenery of the Shichirigahama Beach. Onigajo is considered a place of scenic beauty and ‘Kumano no Oniga-jo tsuketari Shishi-iwa’ a natural monument. It was selected as one of Japan’s 100 famous views as part of the UNESCO World Heritage award in July 2004. It is part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”. There is a legend that Sakanoue Tamuramaro, by Emperor Kanmu’s order, defeated a pirate named Tagamaru here, who was feared in the area.
Hana-no-Iwaya-jinja Shrine enshrines the deities of Izanami-no-kami and Kagutsuchi-nomikoto.
Izanami is a Japanese goddess, the wife of Izanagi-no-kami in Japanese mythology. It is said that when giving birth to Kagutsuchi, the god of fire, she suffered mortal burns and died. After her death she was buried in Arima village, Kumano, Kii province, where locals worshipped her grave with seasonal flowers. The deity of Izanami now resides within a large cavity, Hotoana, underneath a giant rock which measures 6 m tall, 2.5 m wide, and 50 cm deep. A worship place paved with white stones and a perimeter fence was established. According to another theory, the burial place is actually at Ubuta Shrine located 1.3 kilometer away to the west. At Hana-no-Iwaya-jinja Shrine, an 18 meter tall huge rock facing Izanami’s worship place is the grave of Kagutsuchi. Onawakake Shinji is held every February 2nd (Spring festival) and October 2nd (Autumn Festival).
Kumano Kodo: Fuden-toge Pass
Fuden-toge pass used to be a very important pass connecting the seaside and mountain villages. Beginning in Oroshi, the mountain village is surrounded by beautiful rural landscape and mountains. Following the old road, the mossy stone paving continues. It is thought that as well as pilgrims, local villagers could be found going to and fro along this route between the mountain and seaside villages, to trade their inland harvests and seafood catches respectively. Fuden Oroshi was a deep morning fog that would cover the whole mountains in the early hours, from Autumn until Spring, due to the temperature difference. The moss-covered stone paving here (made from Rhyolite) continues onward through a large cedar forest.
Described as the best in Japan, the rice terraces of Maruyama Senmaida are located in the Maruyama district of Kiwa-cho (Kumano city, Mie prefecture) at an elevation of 736 meters above sea level on the south-west slopes of Mt. Shirakura. Whilst the name ‘Senmaida’ literally means ‘1,000 rice fields’, the valley’s terraces cover an elevation range of 160 m (from 90–250 m above sea level) with an actual total number of 1,340 rice fields across 7 ha spread across the land. At the time this was measured in 1898 by Tadao Anzai, it was said there were as many as 2,483 rice fields. Along the mountain path that cuts through the Maruyama rice fields, you will find a giant rock that can make for a spectacular Instagram photo.
Tours in the Kumano Region
Heartland Japan offers the following tours inside the Kumano Region. Please have a look!