In 2004, two UNESCO World Heritage trails, the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodo signed a “Sister Road” agreement and have been doing some joint marketing. They have a program that if you walk both trails you can get a special “Dual Pilgrim” designation– all you have to do is document your journey and bring your certified credential from the other trail.
I’ll be traveling with a group from the Colorado Mountain Club. Here is the trip overview from their website.
Experience Japan at the peak of cherry blossom time!
Kyoto, formerly the Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years (from 794-1868), is one of the world’s most culturally rich cities scattered with hundreds, if not thousands, of pockets of amazing beauty. Kyoto has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites (the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”), 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines. There are 24 museums, amazing gardens and palaces—including the Imperial Palace, the former ruling palace of the Emperor of Japan before 1869. Kyoto is one of the most beautiful and best preserved cities in Japan.
We will spend three full days exploring a variety of temples, shrines and neighborhoods of Kyoto. We’ll attend a traditional geisha dance performance. Along the way, we’re sure to sample some interesting foods and beverages!
From Kyoto we’ll make our way by train to the coastal city of Tanabe, which we’ll explore before heading into the mountains and our Kumano Kodo trek.
The Kumano Kodo is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross through the dense forests and mountains of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. The ancient pilgrimage is one of only two UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage routes in the world, the other being the Camino de Santiago in Spain. In 2015, the two routes were designated as “Dual Pilgrimage Routes” and pilgrims who walk both routes are recognized as Dual Pilgrims.
We will experience authentic rural Japan as we follow in the footsteps of 11th-century imperial pilgrims to the sacred site Kumano Sanzan [the three Grand Shrines of Kumano: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha]. The Kumano Sanzan shrines are also UNESCO World Heritage sites; the shrines and the pilgrimage route are collectively known as the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.”
We’ll follow the UNESCO-registered section, the Nakahechi route, for six days of varied walking along village paths and forested mountains trails. We’ll visit mountain-top villages, soothing hot springs, sacred shrines and temples before we finish our trek at Katsuura on the coast. Along the way we’ll experience the Spring Festival and Yunobori Shinto Festival and take a traditional boat tour down the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano River to Shingu. Each night we’ll stay in local traditional minshuku or ryokan where we’ll be welcomed as one of the family and where we’ll experience impeccable service, beautiful rooms, and delicious food.
Sounds like fun!
And here are some YouTube videos to give you a sense of the Kumano: