Kumano Kodo pilgrimage – Day 1 – Sunday, November 12, 2017 – Nakahechi Main Route.

After a nice rest, I was up for breakfast at 8 am and caught the 9:10 am bus for the starting point of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.

Since it is only a 3 hour walk today, I decided to start early to spend some time at the Kumano Kodo Kan Pilgrimage Centre which is at the start of the trail head.

From there the trail starts at Takijiri-oji, which is one of the five major Oji shrines – the entrance to the abode of the gods and Buddhist paradise of rebirth. There was once extensive halls, a bath house, lodging for pilgrims, and residences for priests, priestesses, and monks located here.

Oji are subsidiary shrines of the three Kumano Grand Shrines that line the Kumano Kodo to protect and guide pilgrims. These shrines house the “child dieties” of Kumano and serve as places to worship and rest.

The formation of these shrines has been attributed to the Yamabushi mountain ascetics, who historically served as pilgrimage guides.

Before catching the 9:10 bus I was able to visit the Tokei-jinja which was close to where I was staying. Here are a few photos I was able to take:

The start of the walk was indeed steep and found the Chichi-iwa Rock.

There was also another rock you could climb through if you had faith. I could have but unable to get through with my day pack on.

Along the trail there were some nice views.

There was a mount of rocks where people would bury containers (jars) with their sutras.

The trails at the top of the mountains were beautiful.

The trail markers were great to give you confidence you were on the correct trail.

Along the way there was a nice little shrine where I stopped to have lunch.

There was a nice view of the mountains and a nice place to rest as I waited for my check-in time in Takara.

The weather co-operated and it was beautiful and sunny all day. Tomorrow is a full day of walking with a few mountain climbs by the look of things. WiFi is spotty, so hopefully will be able to get my blog published, as I lost my data connection due to being in a remote area.