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Kumano Kodo and Kawayu Onsen, featured in The Mail on Sunday

 "Healing thermal waters with a breathtaking mountain view: A steamy journey into the spiritual heart of Japan"
Text: Kevin Coulson
Published by: The Mail on Sunday
Sept 27, 2015


"Wearing a dressing gown, shorts and wooden clogs, I totter down the middle of the road in the dark looking for a place to slip into the river and let my worries wash away.

But don’t fret, I’m not crazy – just in Japan. Specifically, I am about to take an evening dip in the Kawayu – ‘river of hot water’ – where visitors dig their own ‘baths’ in the shallows which are then filled by geothermal springs.

I remove my robe, kick off my shoes and, sliding into the warmth, can just make out the steam surrounding me. My only other companions are the birdsong from the forest across the stream and the bubbles that break gently on my back.

This thermal wonder is just one of the attractions on, or close to, the Kumano Kodo pilgrim trails, a Unesco World Heritage site since 2004, in the Wakayama prefecture of Japan. This area has been visited for more than 1,000 years, and initially worshippers made a 380-mile round trip from Kyoto to see three grand shrines – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha – in their search for salvation and healing.

Admittedly, I had not been looking for any of them as I began my walk that morning, and my route, beginning at Takijiri Oji, was somewhat less arduous – just three miles, with a stop for lunch to gaze at the Hatenashi mountains."


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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…