We, Heartland Japan (Liberta Inc.), which organizes tours in rural Japan to learn about the history and culture of the region while interacting with residents, has launched the Kumano Kodo Iseji Pilgrimage Walking Tour. The tour is a walking tour of the Kumano Kodo Iseji Pilgrimage.
The tour is based on a walking tour of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route and is themed on reliving the pilgrims of the Edo period (1603-1868). Small groups of 4-10 people will be joining. The tour will begin in Japan on October 28, 2022 (JST). The deadline for registration is September 26, 2022.
The tour will highlight several mountain passes along the 160-km route. It will also offer a unique local experience in the rural villages and fishing communities at the foot of the mountain, giving participants a first-hand look at the local way of life.
What is Kumano Kodo Iseji?
Kumano Kodo, the pilgrimage route to the Kumano Sanzan (Three Grand Shrines of Kumano), has five pilgrimage routes, but Kumano Kodo Iseji is especially the unique route.
Compared to the other routes, the Kumano Kodo Iseji is more varied and enjoyable, with both mountainous and seaside paths. Still, it is even more unique in that it offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of people in rural villages and fishing villages and the opportunity to interact with them as you make your way along the route. Another critical point in choosing this pilgrimage route is that it connects two of the most important shrines in Japan, Ise Jingu Shrine (Ise Grand Shrine) and Kumano Sanzan.
The Kii Peninsula, located in the center of Japan, is home to the Kii Mountains, a series of 1,000-meter-high peaks, and since ancient times has been a region where the worship of nature as a deity has flourished. The Kii Peninsula is home to three sacred sites: Koyasan for Buddhism, Yoshino-Omine for Shugendo (mountain asceticism), and Kumano Sanzan for Shintoism. In this tour, you will walk along the Kumano Kodo Iseji, also registered as a World Heritage site.
Kumano Kodo Iseji, a World Heritage Site, is a pilgrimage route where visitors cross a number of mountain passes after visiting Ise to pay homage to Kumano Sanzan and experience rebirth. People walked the Ise pilgrimage route, which became popular in the Edo period, praying to the gods that they may live better in this life and be born in a better place in the next life.
In this tour, participants will receive a hand-sewn “oizuru” as a gift. “oizuru” is a “haori” that pilgrims used to wear over their kimonos to prevent their backs from rubbing against their luggage as they walked the pilgrimage.
This time, we have recreated the”oizuru” of the Edo period with the help of experts from the Kumano Kodo and Iseji routes. In the interest of sustainability, we used domestic product fabrics, hand-sewn by local sewers and hand-written by a local calligrapher. The handmade “oizuru” are made according to each participant’s size and given as a gift. By writing their own country, name, and wish on the “oizuru” and making a pilgrimage to the sacred sites along the Kumano Kodo Iseji, Heartland Japan aims to pass on the local pilgrimage culture to future generations on a global scale.
Flights arriving in Japan on October 28th are set as the starting point for the tour. The itinerary is slightly different for flights from Europe and Oceania and for flights from North America and Oceania, so please check the details.
from Europe and Oceania
from North America and Oceania
We can help you with the hassle-free application process for traveling to Japan
Japan has its own entry regulations regarding the Corona Disaster at the moment.
Travel to Japan is only permitted with a full escort by an attendant assigned by the tour operator both those coming in groups and those coming individually.
Two required documents are needed to enter Japan.
- Certificate of Registration to the ERFS system (Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System)
Registration is required for travelers to Japan by the permitted tour operator.
- Visa application
Travelers are to apply at the Japanese embassy or consulate in their country to obtain a visa to enter Japan.
Heartland Japan (Liberta Inc.), as the permitted tour operator, handles the hassle of ERFS to ensure that travelers from all over the world (those coming from BLUE-listed countries) can enjoy their trip to Japan with ease. We not only do this for a group tour but also for those looking to visit Japan privately. Contact us, and we will create your trip to cover all the criteria for your special visa.
Statistics of Visitors to Kumano Kodo and Japan
According to JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization), comparing the number of visitors to Japan from January to June 2019 (pre-coronavirus) viruses, the same period of 6 months during 2022 (current) has dropped by 79.3 %. However, in 2021(the same six months one year ago), even though there were still restrictions on coming to Japan, the number rose to 560.2% (JNTO, 2022).
*Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan:
Visitors to the Kumano Kodo Iseji route have recorded an increase of 108.6% compared to the year from 2020 (226,406 visitors) to 2021 (245,833 visitors). Looking at the statistics, we can see that this trip’s popularity could increase more in the following years (Higashi Kishu Regional Organization, 2022) (Higashi Kishu Regional Organization, 2022).
*Higashi Kishu Regional Organization. (2022, 8 8). 2021 熊野古道伊勢路 来訪者数推計値（峠別・月別）について:
Retrieved from https://kumanokodo-iseji.jp/news/r3_visitors/
*Higashi Kishu Regional Organization. (2022, 3 31). 2021 熊野古道来訪者数（峠別・月別）推計値
*JNTO. (2022, 6). Statistical data by month and year (foreigners visiting Japan and Japanese leaving Japan). Retrieved from Visitor Arrivals for Jun. 2022:
Future Travel to Japan
Japan has been a popular destination for many years, with the standard course being Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto + Hiroshima. Those major destinations are must-visit places everyone wants to visit at least once for their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan. And until now, travel to Japan has been limited to tours around major cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, etc., and that has been the standard.
However, we greatly emphasize adding Japan’s authenticity to that list. Traveling only to Japan’s major cities does not reveal the true picture of Japan. Only by visiting the countryside along with the big cities can you see the wonders of Japan.
Experience nature through outdoor activities such as walking.
Experience different cultures through traditional crafts and performing arts that remain in the region.
Experience regional exchange through contact with the lifestyles of people in rural and fishing villages and the issues facing Japan’s local communities. Through these experiences, one can truly understand the country of Japan for the first time.
A “memorable trip” that is more than just a photographic experience. Our mission is to provide that. Contact us from below.
Tour application page: https://heartlandjapan.com/kumano-kodo-iseji-pilgrimage-walking-tour-0ct-2022/
Heartland Japan: https://heartlandjapan.com/
Tour Operator: Heartland Japan (Liberta Inc.) Licensed travel company 2-7699
Location: Villette Hayashi 503, Waseda Tsurumaki-cho 566, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 162-0041