BACK TO BASICS, ACCJ Journal features Kumano
Text: Jonathan DeHart
On the southern tip of the rugged Kii Peninsula, about 100km south of Osaka, all roads lead to the sacred region of Kumano.
Winding through the Kii Mountains – a dramatic landscape dotted with rivers and waterfalls cascading on gnarled rocks – the Kumano Kodo has been a pilgrimage route for followers of a syncretistic Buddhist-Shinto mix for more than 1,000 years.
Fervent pilgrims once endured painstaking religious rites of worship and purification as they trudged along the rocky path, at the heart of a region said to be where Japan’s first legendary emperor Jimmu unified the nation.
And if the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau realizes its ambitious vision today, the trail will soon be known to pilgrims of every creed. “Community-based, grassroots, sustainable: these are the words to describe what Tanabe is doing,” says Brad Towle, a Canadian who works for the Tanabe office.
Note: The Tanabe City Kumano TourismBureau's International Tourism Promotion and Development Director Brad Towle was interviewed by the Jonathan DeHart for this article.