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Kumano Kodo featured in the Independent

Kumano Kodo featured in the Independent

“Natural highs” News print title
"Japan: Discover hiking Nirvana on Kii's path to enlightenment" Online title
Text by: Aaron Millar
Published by: The Independent 
June 2, 2013
Profile: The Independent Traveller supplement is published with the Saturday edition of The Independent. It contains features on a diverse range of travel destinations along with classified ads for travel deals.


"Ryoei Takagi is a 62-year-old Buddhist monk. Every January he climbs the steep snowy slopes near his home in the Kii Mountains of Japan to meditate under the 48 sacred waterfalls that flow into the Nachi Otaki: one of the tallest waterfalls in the country, revered in folk legend as a living god. Despite the icy conditions he is able to remain submerged in the near freezing flow for 45 minutes at a time. "This training has granted me supernatural powers," he says, leaning in to whisper in my ear. "I can see people's heart inside."

But subjecting oneself to hypothermic conditions, he explains, is only a small part of the process. The real business is in the mountains. Takagi is a follower of Shugendo, an ancient Japanese religion that fuses Buddhist ideals with indigenous forms of nature worship. For centuries, devotees like him, known as Yamabushi, have been trekking the Kumano area's slopes believing that ascetic training in sacred spots can grant magical abilities. Japanese folklore is rich with examples of these monks predicting the future, walking on fire, even flying – and their rituals are still alive today."

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NEW Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Tourist Pass

NEW Ise-Kumano-Wakayama Area Tourist Pass
This is an easy way to do a loop of the Kii Peninsula.

From July 15, 2016 (Friday)
PRICE Adult 11,000 yen Children 5,500 yen (Children 6 to 11 years old)
NOTE: This pass is not available for purchase in Japan.
VALIDITY PERIOD Five consecutive days
AREA ●JR conventional lines: Nagoya-Shingu-within Osaka City (via lse Tetsudo Line or Kameyama, via Kisei Main Line/Hanwa Line) ●Nagoya-Kameyama-Nara-within Osaka City (via Kansai Main Line) Taki Toba (Sangu Line) ●Kansai International Airport-Hineno (Kansai Airport Line) ●Bus routes for accessing Kumano Kodo, Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha (Only Kumano Kotsu Bus); and Select bus routes
TRAIN TYPES ●Unlimited use of non-reserved seats on ordinary cars on all JR conventional line trains in the subject section. ●Reserved seats can be used up to four times on ordinary cars of limited express and rapid trains. ●Only non-reserved seats can be used on the limited express "Haruka' between the Kansai Inte…