Hiking the Kumano Kodo – Yunomine Onsen to Shingu to Katsuura

5/18 – Took a bus this morning from Yunomine Onsen to Shingu, to take a ride in a traditional flat-bottomed boat used historically by pilgrims on the Kumano River to visit the Hayatama Taisha, the second of the three grand shrines. We donned life jackets and straw hats to get into the spirit.image
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We were the only gaijin (foreigners) on the boat, but our guide Kyoko-San translated most of the highlights for us.

We got out of the boat at a small island to touch “the monster’s spine”, assuring us of strength and long life.image
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It was a gorgeous morning for a boat ride.image

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Kyoko-San played a traditional flute as we drifted past the cliff faces in the clear turquoise water.image

We disembarked in Shingu, and walked toward the Hayatama Taisha. We were surprised that the Japanese tourists opted to get on a bus back to the station instead. We entered at the torii gate. image
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Near the Hayatama Taisha is a long flight of rock steps up Mount Gongen, where runners holding torches race during the annual fire festival. Can’t imagine racing up these steps in the dark…imageimage

The steps lead up to a small shrine at a sacred rock where the three deities are believed to have come down to earth.

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We watched many come to pray and meditate here.image

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The overlook gave us a great view of the city below, and the Pacific Ocean beyond.image

We took a short train ride to Kii-Katsuura, where we spent the night in a western hotel. Yay for mattresses! Tomorrow we will visit our third shrine.

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