Tag Archives: pilgrimage

Kyoto, Japan to Tanabe, Japan – the Kumano Kodo

5/13 – Got an early start this morning to catch the 8:36 train to Kii-Tanabe. The Kyoto train station was busy on a weekday morning. image

When our train was called, everyone lined up in two rows, just like it said on the sign. The Japanese are an orderly people. I felt badly for the businessmen, dressed in their identical black suits and white shirts. With the glum looks on their faces, it was easy to imagine they were all on their way to an undertakers convention!

We passed some beautiful beaches on the way, with swimmers and surfers.image



Two and a half hours later, we arrived at Kii-Tanabe, had a yummy pork and noodle soup lunch, and waited for a bus to Takijiri, where our Kumano Kodo hike began.imageimage

Here’s what you do while waiting for the bus.

It was already mid-afternoon by the time we arrived, so it was nice that the day’s hike was planned for only 3.7km/ 2.3mi. Here is the entrance to the trail. We will walk to visit three major Shinto shrines this week.image

Pilgrims ritually wash themselves at the beginning of the walk.image

The first part of the hike was totally uphill – climbing, climbing, then climbing some more! image



We saw several small shrines in the forest,which is what the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage is all about.  Several were Jizo, or Buddhist bodhisattva, which help travelers to attain enlightenment.  The mixture of Buddhist and Shinto symbols is common in Japan.

We arrived at the Takahara Lodge at 4:30pm and were welcomed by the delightful owner. I had my very first Japanese communal bath – men and women bathe separately here. After sitting down on a little stool to shampoo and wash, we climbed into a deep pool, lined with stones, for a hot soak. It was lovely!image

We went down to supper freshly washed and wearing our kimonos. The meal was amazing, with little bites of different vegetables, sashimi, grilled fish and Kobe beef cooked at the table, so tender it just melted in your mouth. Fruit sorbet for dessert. So delicious!image

We met two couples from Australia who will be walking our route tomorrow. We retired to our room with the beautiful view of the mountainside. Tomorrow is a hiking day! 




Split to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina

11/13 – yesterday the skies opened and the rain poured down, so we stayed close to home in our cozy apartment in Split. Our gracious landlady came down to make sure the water wasn’t coming in anywhere – there had been trouble with flooding before. We were nice and dry. She offered us more schnapps. Gotta love this place!

I spent most of the afternoon trying to plan the next leg of our journey. Jim wants to go to the pilgrimage town of Medjugorje, (Med you GOR ya) where the Virgin has been seen or heard daily for over 30 years.

We can get there easily enough on a Croatian bus from Split, in about 4 hours. The problem is where to go from there. Looking at a map, it appears to be a straight shot from there to Sarajevo, then northeast to Belgrade in Serbia, which is where we’d like to go. However, the nice folks at EuRail tell us that this train doesn’t run anymore, and the website for Bus Bosnia suggests that we rent a car! Oh well. The Bosnian infrastructure may have some issues. I’ll keep working on it.

The bus ride was tranquil, taking us up the coast advertised as the Croatian Riviera. Lots of posh hotels, casinos and yachts in the harbors. Only got a few pix, due to the rain.





After a short border check, we were in Bosnia, and the rain stopped. By 4pm, we found our apartment in one of many new buildings erected to support the influx of pilgrims. We have a brand new kitchen, and a washing machine that looks like a deluxe cheese grater!


Unfortunately, I hurt my hip lifting my pack this morning, and have been in considerable discomfort all day. I hope I can walk to the pilgrimage sites tomorrow.

Medjugorje was a small village prior to 1981, when six teens started reporting communications with Our Lady, Queen of Peace. The messages, sightings and miracles have been occurring daily since then, and over 40 million have visited the town, which has grown to support all the pilgrims who flock here. If you are not familiar with the history of the apparitions, you can read up on them at Medjugorje.org.