Kumano Kodo I

We take a train from Kyoto and then a bus to Takijiri-oji to begin our hike.

For over 1000 years, pilgrims have made an arduous pilgrimage, using a network of trails to sacred Shinto sites in the mountains south of Kyoto: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha

Shintoism is the ancient religion of Japan, originating as long ago as 1000 BCE. Shintoism includes belief in Kami — spirits, essences, or gods that exist in the natural world. These gods can aid those asking help through rituals. Many Japanese engage in Shinto rituals without thinking of themselves as being Shinto practitioners — it is part of their cultural heritage.

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We visit the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Center. The map above Karen shows the pilgrimage route.

We will walk from Takijiri-oji to Takahara and spend the night at the Takahara Lodge.

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Historical marker – beginning of the trail

We walk under the torii.

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The Kumano Kodo and the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) in Spain and Portugal are the only two pilgrimage routes registered as UNESCO World Heritage. We pass a stamp center — for pilgrims to stamp their credentials.

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Examples of stamps — indicating that the pilgrim has reached a particular “Oji.” Oji are subsidiary shrines of the Kumano Grand Shrines that line the trail. They are places of ritual worship and rest.

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Shrine with Jizo statues. Jizo is a Buddhist Bodhisattva — a being who has vowed to help others attain enlightenment.

After a long climb, we reach the ridge.

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Buddhist shrine – Shinbutsu-shutout is the belief that Japanese (Shinto) deities are local manifestations of Buddhist figures.

The view from Takahara

The view from our lodge room — Kari-no-Sato Takahara Lodge

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Sunset

Morning fog

View over a rice paddy

In the morning, we walk towards Chikatsuyu-oji. I am not performing rituals. I am merely doing walking meditation.

For me, the pilgrimage is an inner path, a way inside.

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