The Kumano area is located on the southern tip of the Kii Peninsula.
To get there from Osaka takes about three and a half hours by train. The region is about 100 kilometers south of Osaka.
Ancient Kumano was one unified region crossing the borders of the present day prefectures of Wakayama, Mie, and Nara. During the Meiji Restoration Era Kumano was split up into these three prefectures as a move to reduce the power and influence of the area at the time. Historically, Kumano has been an influential cultural centre and pivotal in Japanese history due to its military power, spiritual leadership, economic prowess, and culturally forward thinking.
If you visit Kumano you want to visit the three grand shrines of Kumano. They are:
Hongu Taisha (in Hongu Town)
Nachi Taisha (near Katsuura)
Hayatama Taisha (in Shingu)
Collectively these three shrines are known as the ‘Kumano Sanzan’.
For thousands of years pilgrims have traveled to the Kumano Sanzan via walking trails. The trails are also known collectively as the Kumano Kodo. Some of the shrines in the area are well over 2000 years old.
The region is rich with religious and historical value that emanates from the three shrines.
Kumano is rich in natural beauty with many hot springs to enjoy in the lush green mountains, along the ocean, or by rivers.
In 2004, Kumano’s religious treasures, including Kumano River, and Kumano Kodo, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Named “The Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of Kii Mountain Range”, the designation also includes neighboring Koyasan, Yoshino and Ominesan.
Anyone wanting to experience a more mystical side of Japan must come to Kumano for a visit.