Walking the Kumano Kodō 熊野古道- Kumano Hongū Taisha 熊野本宮大社-

Sydney Solis ready to walk the pilgrimage on the Kumano Kodo.
A little fun. I’m “dressed” in traditional pilgrimage attire for the journey and ready to go!

For the first portion of my pilgrimage on the Kumano Kodō, my Sensei, Nakamura-san, took me on a pre-pilgrimage visit to an array of shrines that started out in Nara.

First, an unexpected visit to Inunakiyama Tohorinji Temple犬鳴山轉法輪寺 then on to hike and visit the ancient Tamaki Shinto Shrine 玉置神社 , a lovely overnight at the Kamiyusou, Totsukawa onsen to soak our weary bones. (I still miss Japanese onsen so much I could cry.)

The real beginning of walking the dark path for us began at in Wakayama at the 熊野本宮大社, Kumano Hongū Taisha Shinto Shrine, which Sensei said is usually the end point pilgrims exit their journey.

Kumano Kodo Cultural Heritage Center image of Shungendo practitioner.
The Kumano Kodo Cultural Heritage Center has in depth information about the history of the path. Here a representation of a Shugendō practitioner,

It serves as the head shrine of more than 3,000 Kumano shrines across Japan and is part of the sanzan – three famous shrines that cover the route.

Hongu Taisha enshrines its own deity and the deities of the other two Kumano shrines, Hayatama Taisha, Nachi Taisha, as well as the sun goddess Amaterasu. 

Japan worships nature. Trees, rocks, water – everything is sacred, related and alive. Up until the mid-20th century Japanese thought it absurd that they were separate from nature, as the West does with its Cartesian rational. Kumano Hongu Shrine highly respects the Sun. Yata Crow is also the Sun God, representing the resurrection of the Sun and salvation of the future.

The Shugendō 修験道 sect of mountain asceticism know nature’s power – leave behind the material world that distracts from the spiritual and purify yourself walking below the canopy of astonishing trees lining this dark path. Practitioners spend months there wandering and unite with the forces of nature. The world melts away and you are united with pure nature. After my immersion, I never wanted to return!

Shodo in the head office of the Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine.
In the office of the head priest of Hongu Taisha included many Shodo works.

Like Tamaki Shrine, I was privileged to attend a great and rare meeting with the head priest that Nakamura-san arranged to discuss his thesis that Shinto is the path to world peace.

The Priest endorsed it and his book, The Japan Code, that discusses the philosophy and mythology of Shinto and Japan.

I present the beauty and awe of Kumano Hongū Taisha.

I am so grateful to my sensei and whatever I did to deserve such amazing grace. ARIGATO!

Entrance and torii gate to Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine. Photo by Sydney Solis
Entrance and Torii gate to Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Walking to Hongu Taisha
Looking back while walking to Hongu Taisha. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Steps to Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine. Photo By Sydney Solis.
You walk A LOT of steep steps on this journey! Photo by Sydney Solis.
Purification fountain at Walking to Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine on the Kumano Kodo. Photo by Sydney Solis.
I love the ritual of purification with water when entering a shrine , especially the dragons. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Kumano Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine in the rain.
After climbing many, many steps, we arrived at Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine. The forecast was rain, as fewer pilgrims were there and it was a Friday as well. Luckily, the rain let up before we started the hike. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Entrance to the Honden of Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine.
Entrance to the honden, main shrine. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Tree with mushrooms at Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine
Tree with mushrooms on it at Hongu Taisha Shrine. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Goshuin for Kumano Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine.
Goshuin for Kumano Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine.
Walking the Kumano Kodo path
And we’re off!
Fallen log with mushroom on it along the Kumano Kodo.
Fallen log with mushrooms on it along the path. Photo by Sydney Solis.
May Peace Prevail on Earth. Kumano Hongu Taisha.
May peace prevail on earth! Shinto emphasizes nature, and a return to nature will bring world peace. Photo by Sydney Solis.
Sydney Solis at the Back end of Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine and entering the forest to begin the walk on the dark path, the Kumano Kodo.
Back end of Hongu Taisha Shinto Shrine and entering the forest to begin the walk on the dark path, the Kumano Kodo.

7 thoughts on “Walking the Kumano Kodō 熊野古道- Kumano Hongū Taisha 熊野本宮大社-

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  3. Nice! I am planning go walk the Kumano Kodo trail myself next year. For now I’ll satisfy my wanderlust reading your entries about it 🙂


    • Hello! Thank you, and terrific that you are going to walk the Kumano Kodo!!! I’m trying to get back over to Japan myself, after my April-June trip was delayed because of Covid. I am 2/3 way through writing about the experience, so you have motivated me to finish it!!! Best wishes and happy traveling! If there is anything you’d like to know about it, I’m happy to oblige and if I don’t know I will ask my Sensei who is expert in all things Japanese myth, philosophy and culture!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I assumed u live in Japan (I was super jealous about it) 😬 Yes please would love to read all of it. Thank u Sydney.


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  5. Pingback: Things I Miss About Japan Most #2: Onsen and The Japanese Bath | Sydney In Osaka

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