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Nakahechi West Area

Nakahechi West Area

  • LocationWakayama

The Kumano Kodō (熊野古道?) is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the Kii Hantō, the largest Peninsula of Japan. These sacred trails were and are still used for the pilgrimage to the sacred site "Kumano Sanzan" (熊野三山)), or the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano: Kumano Hongū Taisha (熊野本宮大社), Kumano Nachi Taisha (熊野那智大社) and Kumano Hayatama Taisha (熊野速玉大社). The Kumano Kodō pilgrimage routes that lead to Kumano can be geographically categorized into three sub-routes: "Kiji", "Kohechi" and "Iseji". The Kumano Kodō and Kumano Sanzan, along with Koyasan and Yoshino and Omine, were registered as UNESCO World Heritage on July 7, 2004 as the "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".

The "Kiji" route runs along the west coast of the peninsula to the city of Tanabe where it forks into two: "Nakahechi" and "Ohechi". The "Nakahechi" route leads into the rugged interior mountains towards Kumano Hongū Taisha and the "Ohechi" continues south along the coast. The "Nakahechi route" was the most popular route used by pilgrimages from Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. The earliest records of the use of this route dates from the early 10th century. The trail has a long history of use by people with diverse belief backgrounds leading to a variety of mixed religious symbolism overlaid and incorporated into the geographical setting and stages of the pilgrimage itself. The UNESCO World Heritage registered section begins at Takijiri-oji which is considered to be the point of entry to the sacred area of Kumano. From here it is about 40 km of mountainous trail before you reach the mystical Kumano Hongū Taisha. Most pilgrimages break the journey into a two-day walk. The Chikatsuyu-oji is about halfway and most pilgrims stay the night here at a local minshuku, or Family Inn.

Nakahechi West Area


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