Tag Archives: Yunomine Onsen

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.

Hiking the Kumano Kodo – Yunomine Onsen

5/16 – Well, there’s nothing to describe the experience of soaking in a hot, spring-fed sulphur-rich bath. I felt like a boiled egg, and smelled like one too! The water was so hot that I had to mix some cold tap water into the bath before I could get in (no other ladies present at the time). Unfortunately, the tap water comes from the spring too, so there was no way to rinse off the sulphur smell. We were assured that the water was drinkable, and even brushed our teeth with it – one can get used to anything!

This guesthouse is very much like our last, with thin futons, bean pillows and fish for supper and breakfast. I’m told that the good posture of the Japanese is thanks to thin futons. With a nod to the Western guests, our breakfast included instant coffee, and also ham and eggs, eaten with chopsticks, of course!image

We are staying at Yunomine Onsen for three nights, as the Kumono Kodo trail offers several challenging (that means steep) hikes in this area. image

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Our hostess packed us a lunch to eat along the trail. What could it be?image

Yummy! Three rice balls – one wrapped in nori (seaweed), one wrapped in mustard leaves, and pickled squash.image

This area is the home of the Shinto Hongu Taisha shrine. It is the first of the three major shrines we will visit this week. It boasts the largest torii (shrine entrance gate) in Japan. Here’s our first glimpse of the torii from atop the mountain. Can you spot it?:image

Here’s the gate up close: image

The stairway to the shrine (up and up again!):image

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And the shrine itself. The faithful queue up to ring a bell, clap their hands together in a rhythmic pattern, and offer a silent or spoken prayer.image

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The symbol of this shrine is the three-legged crow, with one leg to represent each of the three major deities.image

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Prayers are written on paper or wood, and hung at the shrine.image

We hiked back past flooded rice fields with newly planted seedlings.image

Back at our guesthouse, we enjoyed another bath and changed into our matching kimonos. It’s fun to dress alike!
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We shared supper conversation with Hank and Jose from the Netherlands. Good supper and new friends!
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5/17 – Hiking in the other direction today. A bit rainy in the morning, which makes climbing slippery rocks even more exciting.image

We neglected to ask for a packed lunch today, so we thought we’d buy something to eat in town. Turns out the only items for sale were raw eggs sold in mesh bags. image

The shopkeeper conveyed to us with no English that we were to tie a rope to the bag and lower the eggs into the hot spring to cook them. He even provided an origami basket to collect the shells, and a packet of salt. With some canned coffee, the best lunch we’ve had all week!image

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A fine hiking day.

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Hiking the Kumano Kodo – Chikatsuyu to Yunomine Onsen

5/15 – A beautiful, sunny day for a hike.  We stopped in at the Cultural Center at the beginning of today’s walk, and discovered an old, familiar friend – the Camino shell!  Turns out that Tanabe and Santiago de Compostela are sister cities; each hosting a pilgrimage.

Today we saw some beautiful mountains:image

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Serene wooded paths:

And little shrines along the paths:

Beautiful trees and flowers:image

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We saw the cultivation of tea:

We walked through an area known for folk wood carvings, which were displayed in front of many houses.

We knew we were near Yunomine Onsen when we could smell the sulphur in the air. A natural hot spring runs through the town, and we are staying three nights at small guesthouses right on the spring, with deep hot-water baths. A new experience! image