Thursday, June 14, 2018

Onsen in the Hills and a Morning Hike

Kumano Kodo is the generations-old pilgrimage route through the Kansai region, linking many of the temples and shrines in the area. Its religious significance aside, just by looking at the picturesque scenery and immersing ourselves in the nature filled with forests, mountains and rivers, I can totally see the charm of spending a few days following those footsteps with a hiking trip along the route.

But not for us, obviously. That said, we roughly followed part of the routes in the comfort of our car and to visit some of the landmark sites. And then we hike a bit on a relatively easy downhill route so we could tell people we did indeed walk the Kumano Kodo.

We spent a little longer than planned in Maruyama Senmaida the afternoon before so we were slightly late by the time we arrived at Kawayu, an onsen village in the mountainous Kumano region where we spent the night. The most interesting feature of this onsen village was the hot-spring right underneath the riverbed – in the drier summer months, one could bring a shovel and dig their own “tub” for a relaxing hot bath, or at winter times, they have a makeshift giant bath for everyone by the river bank. Well we were a bit lazy to do that (and it’s too cold outside too) but we did enjoy a quick footbath in one of the existing holes prepared by someone else.

We stayed in a cozy traditional ryokan called Fujiya, which is located right along the river. A member of Hitou (group of ryokans located in secluded hot spring regions), this ryokan has 30 rooms and great onsen facilities within the premise, with both indoor and outdoor baths with their own hot-spring source right next door, plus a private bath guests could book and use. Dinner was simple (in onsen ryokan standard) but well-prepared, using seasonal and local ingredients. My favorite course was the asari-meshi at the end of the meal – rice cooked in traditional pot with dashi and clams.

Next morning after breakfast we set off with a morning hike on part of the Nakahechi route. The shuttle provided by the ryokan dropped us off at a spot called Fushiogami-oji and from there it’s a short trail of 3.3km leading to the destination of Kumano Hongu Taisha, one of the three grand temples in the Kumano area (the other two being Nachi Taisha which we went yesterday and Hayatama Taisha which we skipped this time)

The trail goes downhill most of the time and was well-constructed and well-marked with checkpoints every 500 meters, so we didn’t even need a map. Along the trail we made a slight detour to a vantage spot up in a small hill, where we had a short break enjoying the cute bento box prepared for us by the ryokan and for the spectacular view of the Oyunohara plain and the iconic Torii gate from afar. It’s a comfortable 2-hour hike and just at the right level and length we could cope with, plus it’s not a bad idea to walk off some of the many food we got to enjoy during the trip.

(Part of the Wakayama Travel Series)

No comments :


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...