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Daito Koya san

Irori hearth before the smoke

Group walking in Osugidani.

Group on top of Odaigahara

Dinner in Kyoto

Dinner at Sanyusha

Gion Kyoto

Bullet Train

Click here for "First the hike, then the haiku", an article from the Daily Telegraph 31/01/2004.
Please note Mountain Kingdoms (used to be Himalayan Kingdoms) no longer offer this or other tours to Japan. But we still operate our IPR tour and it continues to be one of the best!

The following article, about the first Hike Japan Imperial Pilgrimage walking tour (October 2003), appeared in Japanese, in the Kii Minpo newspaper, on 30 October 2003.



British Hikers Walk the Old Road


Eight British hikers, including a journalist reporting for a national newspaper, started their hike along the Nakaheji route to Kumano on the 28th. On their five-day trek to the Kumano Nachi Shrine in Nachi Katsuura, they will stay four nights in local minshuku and other traditional accommodation. Fine views from the ridge they ascended on the first morning whetted their appetites for what was to come.


The Old Kumano Road and the Three Great Shrines of Kumano are looking forward to being listed as World Heritage sites in June next year. This tour was planned by Bob Heffill (48) and the British company Hike Japan, with help from the Japan National Tourist Organization in the lead up to World Heritage site registration. Participants are mostly mountain-lovers. Martin Thompson (55), a journalist, is writing up the trip for the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Nobuhiro Inada from Taima-cho in Nara Prefecture, a park ranger and eco-tourism coordinator, is helping guide the group.


The tour reached Nakaheji-cho via Mount Koya and Ryujin Village on the 28th. The walk began at the entrance to the sacred realms of Kumano at Takijiri Oji. During the morning, they made their way from one of the oldest shrines on the Old Kumano Road, the Takahara Kumano Shrine, to a point beyond Osakamoto Oji on the Aizaka Toge Pass.


In the afternoon they proceeded along the trail, via another of the earliest oji, Chikatsuyu, to Nonaka. The night was spent at the Nonaka Sanso minshuku. The group will be visiting the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine in Hongu, and then walking on to the Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine in Nachi Kastuura.


According to the guide, Bob, ' The intermittent views of the yamanami* is wonderful. Walking with a destination in mind helps to concentrate and clear the mind'. Martin added, 'This is my third visit to Japan. The countryside here is more interesting than the cities'.


yamanami : literally 'mountain ridges rising like waves, as far as the eye can see'


English translation by Bob Heffill 11/11/03


Thanks to Sean Rowland for keeping the smoke rising and documenting the trip in many of the photos on this page.


Click here to read haiku poems written on this tour.

Interview by local press in Wakayama Prefecture

Around the irori, in the smoke

Group at Nanatsugama Waterfall Osugidani.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Miho Museum

Deer shopping in Nara


Dinner in Osaka


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