Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Wakayama
Population
1,069,839

Kumano Kodo: Kohechi Route

This demanding trek is for seasoned hikers only, but gorgeous views and the unearthly Mount Koya are sure to take anyone’s breath away.

Kohechi is the most remote and strenuous route of the four main Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails. Zigzagging over steep peaks, the route crosses over three mountain passes, reaches over 1,000 meters in elevation, and spans over 65 km (40 mi) in length.

The hike begins in Wakayama Prefecture at the legendary Koyasan, also known as Mount Koya. Revered for over 1,000 years, Mount Koya is one of Japan’s most sacred sites. It’s home to the nation’s largest graveyard, Okunoin, where you’ll find the grave of Kobo Daishi—the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

Okunoin Cemetery Mount Koya

Start your journey on the otherworldly grounds of Mount Koya.

Taking hikers through Wakayama and Nara Prefectures, Kohechi ends at Hongu Taisha, one of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Sanzan in Japanese). Though tough, the opportunity to see two of Japan’s most holy places and the incredible sights along the way make it worthwhile.

Hike through Wakayama’s sacred mountains

Historically, Kohechi was used by Buddhist monks living on Mount Koya. They would travel across the treacherous mountains on foot to pay homage to the sacred Grand Shrines of Kumano. Today, you can walk the same path.

Kohechi Trail Kumano Kodo Torii

Photo by: Roderick Eime Kohechi will take you through sleepy mountain towns.

While hiking over the forested peaks and braving narrow cliff-side pathways, you’ll come across extraordinary sights. Hidden moss-covered statues, traditional ryokan with natural onsen baths, and ancient gravesites are just some of the treasures you’ll stumble upon. Not to mention the views!

There are four sections of Kohechi: Mizugamine Peak (Koyasan to Omata in Nara), Obako-toge Pass (Omata to Miura-guchi), Miura-toge Pass (Miura-guchi to Totsukawa Onsen), and Hatenashi-toge Pass (Totsukawa Onsen to Hongu Taisha). Each section takes about a day to complete.

Kumano Kodo Kohechi Viewpoint

Photo by: Roderick Eime Breathtaking mountain views in the Totsukawa village.

The hike ends at the grand Hongu Taisha, one of the Kumano Sanzan, which is often called the “Land of the Gods.” From there, it’s possible to continue traveling along the other pilgrimage trails to the other Grand Shrines and more sightseeing spots if you wish.

Preparing to hike Kohechi

Kohechi Trail Kumano Kodo Torii

Photo by: Wiki The Kohechi trail is very isolated in some parts and you may have to trek through heavy fog and rain.

This mountaintop route is long and steep, and should not be undertaken without careful preparation or by those not in peak health. There’s always a chance of harsh rain, wind, or fog and parts of the trail are closed during winter due to heavy snow. Kohechi is very isolated in parts with no convenience stores or places to buy food or supplies along the way. Only experienced hikers should consider attempting it.

Hiking the entire trail takes four days, so you’ll need to pack everything needed for that duration. There are inns along the way, but you’ll want to figure out your accommodation in advance just to be safe.

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Things To Know

Difficulty Level

We really want to stress that only experienced hikers are advised to take the Kohechi route. Make sure you’ve packed appropriate gear as well as plenty of food and water before heading out, or you’re going to be in serious trouble!

Check the Kumano Kodo official website for lodging options, maps, and more.

How To Get There

Address

Senjuin-bashi, Kōyasan, Koya, Ito-gun, Wakayama 648-0211, Japan

By train

From Osaka, take the Nankai Koya Line from Namba Station to Gokurakubashi Station. From there, you’ll take a ropeway up to Koyasan Station. Finally, take the bus to the Senjuin-bashi bus stop where you can start your hike.

Buying a Koyasan-World Heritage Ticket could save you time and money.

By foot

Those looking for an extra challenge can hike to Koyasan on the Choishi Michi Trail. To get to the trailhead, take the Nakai Koya Line from Namba Station and get off at Kudoyama Station.

Where To Stay

Fumonin
  • Koyasan 608 Ito-Gun Koya-Cho, Wakayama 648-0211
  • 8.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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Jokiin
  • 365 Ito-Gun Koya-Cho, Wakayama 648-0211
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.2 km
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Koyasan Guest House Tommy
  • Koyasan 596 Ito-Gun Koya-Cho, Wakayama 648-0211
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.3 km
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Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin
  • Koyasan 657 Ito-Gun Koya-Cho, Wakayama 648-0211
  • 8.2/10
  • 0.3 km
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