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

Kumano Kodo: Ohechi Route

Take the road less traveled on this coastal hiking trail once sought out by poets and painters for artistic inspiration.

Ohechi is perhaps the most unique route of the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails. Meandering over forested mountain passes and along the coastline of Wakayama’s Kii Peninsula, this hiking trail provides stunning views of the Pacific Ocean’s pristine waters. The landscape is so beautiful it once attracted writers and artists from all over Japan.

Ougigahama, Tanabe, Wakayama, Japan Kumano Kodo Ohechi route

The Ohechi pilgrimage trail will lead you along the stunning coast of Wakayama.

To see Japan through the eyes of poets of painters of old, hike Ohechi. You may find yourself inspired by the end.

Kumano Kodo’s Coastal Route

During the Edo period (1603-1868), Ohechi was used for both spiritual enlightenment and sightseeing along the southeastern coast of the Kansai Region. Most of the Kumano Kodo routes were made primarily for monks and the elite to make the pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan (Three Grand Shrines of Kumano) which is considered the “Land of the Gods.” The Ohechi route, however, was taken by ordinary people. Writers and artists especially traveled these roads to enjoy the views of the sea, seeking inspiration for their works.

Nachi, Japan at the pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki waterfall, Wakayama Prefecture

The stunning Nachi Taisha is one of the sacred Three Grand Shrines of Kumano.

Historically, the Ohechi trail connected Wakayama Prefecture’s seaside town of Tanabe with Nachi Taisha, one of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. However, the modern recommended route ends short of Nachi Taisha at Mirozu Station. This is because large sections of the trail’s latter half have been paved over by modern highways. You can, of course, continue on to Nachi Taisha, but it will involve walking across highways with no pedestrian footpaths, so be careful.

Though less popular these days (meaning you might be lucky enough to have the trail to yourself), Ohechi continues to provide a scenic refuge for anyone who wishes to visit.

Hiking the Ohechi trails

Kumano Kodo pilgrims

Photo by: ©JNTO You’ll cross a variety of terrain including forests and rice paddies before reaching the ocean.

Hiking the full Ohechi trail takes about three days, but segments of the route can also be done as day hikes. A four-day trek is also an option. This longer itinerary includes walking along the highway, which can be unsafe, but also more sightseeing—including the famous Hashigui-iwa rock formation (approximately 40 large rocks rembling a bridge).

At the start of Ohechi, you’ll walk along paved roads and rice paddies. Subsequent days take you through forests with incredible ocean views and eventually along the seashore itself. You’ll also pass by a viewpoint with a Buddha statue overlooking the sea, ancient ruins of castles and teahouses, and small shrines dedicated to the sacred landscape.

Tenjinzaki Kumno Kodo Ohechi trail in Tanabe Wakayama

Photo by: Wiki One of the small oceanside shrines you’ll pass along the Ohechi trail.

The three passes that make up the hike are called Tonda-zaka, Hotoke-zaka, and Nagai-zaka. Whether completing the multi-day trek or doing shorter day hikes, the towns of Tanabe, Shirahama, and Susami are the best places to base yourself.

There are villages and train stations along the way where you can purchase food and beverages, but we still recommend carefully planning ahead and bringing all your supplies with you just in case.

Topics: , , , ,

Things To Know

Trail Maps

Maps are available onsite at the Tanabe Tourist Information Center (next to Kii-Tanabe Station). To download the full guide online, with detailed tips and maps, click here.

How To Get There

Address

1-29 Minato, Tanabe, Wakayama 646-0031, Japan

By train

From Tennoji Station in Osaka, take a Kuroshio Limited Express train towards Shingu and get off at Kii-Tanabe Station where you can start your hike. The trip takes about two hours.

If you’re coming from Tokyo, take the bullet train to Shin-Osaka Station where you can also catch the Kuroshio Limited Express to Kii-Tanabe Station.

By bus

From Osaka, take the JR Highway Bus to Tanabe/Shirahama from either Namba OCAT bus terminal or JR Osaka Station. The timetable can be found here.

Where To Stay

Tentsuku Guest House
  • Minato 1-11 Tanabe-Shi, Wakayama 646-0031
  • 6.5/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
the CUE
  • Minato 16-6 Tanabe-Shi, Wakayama 646-0031
  • 9/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
Guesthouse Kumano
  • Minato 5-12 Tanabe-Shi, Wakayama 646-0031
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com
Guesthouse Ogawaya
  • Minato 28-1 Tanabe-Shi, Wakayama 646-0031
  • 9.3/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com