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The Nakahechi route is part of the Kumano Kodo walking trail network in Honshu, Japan. I am taken with the idea of staying on this route in particular but do not want to do more than moderate day-walking.

Is it possible to take a train or bus to any of the villages along the route and stay in ryokan accommodation there? What are some of the prettier locations along the route?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes, you can reach most of the places by public transport and stay in the ryokans and visit onsen along the way. There are bus routes that run pretty much along the trail.

In general, you can always assume proper road and good public transport access for almost any famous locations in Japan. Due to the short holidays Japanese people usually take and the huge share of elderly people, longer hiking trails will almost always have bus stops at all major locations so people who do not want to hike the whole way will still have access.

This map shows the train and bus lines around the Nakahechi route on a larger scaloe. There is an even more detailed bus map & schedule.The same website lists also in a very extensive detail all the different parts of the route, together with the time it should take to walk between the spots. You will have to do some planning at least however since there are many stations where the bus shows up only every 2 hours.

Regarding to which spots are the prettier ones I would point to the FAQ since that would be a subjective matter.

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The Nakahechi route can be walked with multi-day trips or shorter walks. One popular shorter walk is the Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha section. It is a seven kilometer walk with a mixture of isolated villages and forests, and finishes at the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine. There are some scenic lookouts along the way.

Being based in one of the hot springs in Hongu is an excellent choice, such as Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen. Yunomine Onsen is along the Kumano Kodo route. Some of these accommodations at Kawayu Onsen have free shuttle busses to the Hosshinmon-oji trail head, such as Fujiya Ryokan.

As mentioned in the previous answer, public busses run to Yunomine Onsen and Kawayu Onsen from Tanabe in the west and from Shingu in the south. There is also a very long bus route to the hot springs from the north through Nara prefecture.

The local community based government run reservation system called Kumano Travel has a list of accommodations for the above hot springs. They really helped me out with my trip to the area.

This is one of the best ways to stay along the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi pilgrimage route being based in a ryokan with some moderate walking routes nearby.

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