Slept well for a while but by about five o’clock my left hip and right knee especially began to ache badly so didn’t need our alarms to wake up at 6:30. Breakfast was artistically presented. Rice with lots of small dishes. One even had ham and lettuce on it. Melon and a piece of orange were a refreshing finish. Packed and rested until our bus at 7:49. Due to our huge effort yesterday opted for a bus part of the way to Hosshinmon-Oji. After leaving the bus the first part of the trail was on the road. Soon after we turned onto a narrow country lane which took us through a number of small rural villages. After a while we came to a stamping point for our Pilgrim passports. As it was an area with seats we stopped to have morning tea and also take in an awesome view.
As we continued we passed a number of shrines
and even a pillar with many small rocks stacked up against it by previous pilgrims. Our mascot Kirby joined them.
About a kilometre past Fushiogani we came to a spot where a lady was selling vegetables. She told us that this was the turning off point for pilgrims going to Koyasan using the Kumano Kodo Kohechi trail.
From here the trail was reasonably smooth for a while.
At times we found it amazing to see how the trees could grow in such rocky places. Given they were up above us we were pleased they were well rooted.
Like the day before we came to a sign tempting us up to a viewpoint which again we did. The climb was well worth it. Later on we would see the tori gate in the distance for the massive structure it was.
We continued downwards for some time until we reached the tori gate on this side of the Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine complex.
A short walk through a small forest and we were there.
We had a good look around
ensuring we found the shrine with the pilgrim stamper.
Next we had a steep descent down stairs which in former times, and now too, many pilgrims and visitors use to come up to the shrine complex.
We sat and ate our lunch in the gardens before heading over to the adjoining Cultural and Visitor Information Centres. We had a good look at the static displays as well as a couple of informative videos before going out of the town through the huge tori gate we had seen from high above earlier in the day.
Our last few kilometres were extremely punishing. Firstly an ascent of just over a kilometre of very steep steps followed by an equally steep staired descent which my old hips and knees definitely didn’t appreciate!
Eventually we made it to the shrine at the entry to Yunomine,
our stopping point for the next two days. Thank goodness we had a rest day coming up to rest and soak our worn out joints in an onsen!