Kumano Kodo – Day 1 – Takijiri to Nonaka

Awoke about six and finished packing. Ate western breakfast at 7:00. Checked out of Tanabe City Hotel and walked down to the station. Karen went with our walking companion Colin to pick up beautiful Bento lunch boxes while I took the cases to the bus stop. Caught 8:02 bus to Takijiri. Arrived about 8:45 and transferred our cases to the luggage transfer man’s van. Had a brief look in the Tourist Information Centre before crossing the road.

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Had a photo at the Kumano Kodo marker rock then stamped our Pilgrim folder for the first time.

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Started just after 9:00 on a very steep starred first section with two Swiss girls. It took us to the first of the many 500m markers but it went up 100m! After a brief respite it was up, up again for another kilometre. At that stage we took an option to go up to a viewpoint.

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Quite steep stairs but the views were great.

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Then back down a different way to rejoin the Kumano Kodo. There were lots of signs plus even some for Not the Kumano Kodo! Continued up and down until we came to Takahara. I was a bit behind and spotted the shrine.

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Went in and signed the Visitors book and stamped my Pilgrim passport. Karen and Colin had walked further to some seats and a great viewpoint.

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I told them it was a short walk back to stamp their Pilgrim passports too. Turns out later they found the little shrine house and used the correct stamp. I had used a different one. We all ate some of the sushi items and the prawns from our Bento boxes for morning tea as it was warming up.

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The path as we left Takahara was really steep again!

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Kept rising for the next 2kms but at least we could hear the peaceful sound of running water. Soon after there it was.

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Eventually we reached Daimon-oji where we stamped our Pilgrim passports again.

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After that more uphill but at Jujo-Oji saw no stamper for our Pilgrim passports. Kept going for another 3kms over reasonably flat and smooth surface so made good time. We stopped at the Three Fold Moon signboard for lunch from our Bento boxes.

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Quite steady downhill after lunch, some alright but some very dodgy and slippery rock surface. As we approached the Osakamoto-Oji we heard water which became steadily louder. Eventually we came to a series of bridges that crossed the stream with its numerous small waterfalls.

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Very peaceful but the wooden bridges were quite slippery and a bit dangerous we thought.

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At Gyuba-dojo Guchi we took a snack and toilet break as the trail met the main road here. Made the decision to keep walking as if we stopped we had about an hour and forty minutes to wait for the bus. (My knees regretted this decision!) uphill to Gyuba-dojo statue for a stamp then a bit of a descent until we came out to Chikatsuyu township which seemed to be on a secondary road. Crossed the river on a bridge. Great photo spot.

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Then the Kumano Kodo followed mostly sealed tertiary roads uphill, in one section steeply uphill to Hisohara -Oji where it levelled out.

imageOne of the gardens had quite a bit of novelty value so we let our trip mascot, Kirby the frog, rest there for a photo.

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Our walk continued until we came to Tsugizakura for our last Pilgrim passport stamp of the day at the shrine (Oji) there. Here we left the official trail for a detour to our accommodation. We even saw one of the signs telling us it wasn’t the Kumano Kodo!

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The next section took us steeply downhill past a spring for over thirty minutes to the rural village of Nonaka where we finally met the main road again.

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All that climbing seemed such a waste when we had to descend so sharply to get to our accommodation at Minshuku Nonaka Sanso.

imageHowever on our arrival we were warmly met and made to feel welcome with a quick orientation of the property. After settling in went for a soap up, shower and bath. Next Colin and I had a beer with a young American/Japanese couple – Sara and Ian.

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Karen joined us after her shower/bath. Another four young Americans were there too. Had dinner on two tables. Beautifully presented as you can see

imageand by far the most delicious food we have had in Japan. The plum pickled in beer being a highlight. (Bottom centre of this photo) After chatting for a while retired quite willingly to bed (a thin futon with a layer of foam beneath) for an extremely well earned sleep. Had walked the best part of 20kms.

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