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
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
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.