Tag Archives: Takahara

Hiking the Kumano Kodo – Takahara to Chikatsuyu

5/14 – The Takahara Lodge is famous for being the place to witness the Mist on the Mountain.  What wonderful grace that the mist greeted us when we arose in the morning, right outside our bedroom window!image image image

Within in a half hour, the sun was up, and the mist was gone.image

After a wonderful breakfast that included eating a whole fish – eyes, tail, little bones and all – we set out for our day’s walk. Two couples from Australia kept us company for part of the way. We passed flooded fields with newly planted rice seedlings.image

The trail was shady and wooded for most of the day.

There were musical streams:

And we stopped to admire the many small shrines and statues called Jizo that lined the trail. Jizo are bodhisattva who protect travelers, women and children.

By mid afternoon we arrived at our new home, the Nakano Guesthouse.image

Here we got a taste of true Japanese living. Of course, we removed our shoes at the door, and were given a pair of house slippers. The slippers had to be removed at the door to our room, as only bare feet walk on the tatami mats. When using the bathroom, special bathroom slippers must be worn. It got confusing pretty quickly. I’m sure I offended within minutes of our arrival. This was our room.image

After sitting on the cushions to have some tea, we moved the table aside and pulled our futons out of the closet to make up our beds. I’m too old to sleep on the floor! The little pillows were hard and filled with beans. We had a traditional supper, also sitting on the floor. We chatted with Jenna from Canada, a young girl traveling solo. After about 20 minutes my legs fell asleep, but the food was wonderful!image

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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
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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

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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
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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

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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!