Kumano Kodo, attracting fewer tourists than the Nakasendo trail, not only offers a more authentic experience of the Japanese countryside but also is one of the world’s only two pilgrimage routes to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (The other one is Camino de Santiago in Spain.)
A network of pilgrimage trails through the southern Kansai region forms the thousand-year-old spiritual heartland of Japan. The ancient forests in the Kii mountains of Kumano stand stoic, refreshed by the waterfalls and rivers that course through the routes. There is one for everyone, ranging from a few hours to 1000 kilometres if you combine all the routes. The most popular ones usually take a few days with stopovers in the ryokans along the way or a shukubo, which is a part of the temple for pilgrims.