Nakahechi – Day 1 – Takijiri to Chikatsuyu

  • Nakahechi route

  • Day 1 – Takijiri Oji to Chikatsuyu, 13km

  • Accommodation: Minshuku Nakano, ¥9000 including dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch

I flew from London to Tokyo and took a few trains south to eventually arrive in Tanabe in Wakayama prefecture yesterday to begin my adventure on the Kumano Kodo. I booked my first night at Miyoshiya Ryokan in Tanabe and was greeted by Ken, the very friendly and English speaking ryokan owner. The ryokan is only a three minute walk from the station and they can hold your luggage while you’re off hiking so it was perfect as I’d brought an extra bag that I was hoping to leave behind (then fill with Japanese chocolate and other goodies before flying home!)

I popped into the Tanabe City Kumano Tourist Bureau yesterday after getting off the train as it’s right next to the station and I picked up some maps, the Dual Pilgrim stamp list and bus and train timetables that will probably come in handy over the coming 6 weeks. It was nice to put a face to the names and voices I’d spoken to on the phone when making some last-minute accommodation reservations for the trip.

Selfie at the start in Takijiri

So, day 1! The first bus leaves Tanabe station at 6.35am for the 36 minute bus ride to Takijiri, but I missed this (blame the jet-lag), and instead caught the 6.50am bus which arrived at 7.28am. There were French, American and Japanese people on the bus all kitted out in hiking gear, some with tiny daypacks and some with oversized backpacks. There’s a luggage courier along the Nakahechi which I was wishing at many points today I’d taken advantage of!

When you get off the bus at Takijiri there’s the Kumano Kodo Kan Pilgrimage Centre across the bridge on the right (open from 9am) and on the left there’s a souvenir shop/accom with some convenient drink vending machines outside so I downed a nice cold coffee, took the obligatory selfie in front of the Unesco sign, visited the first of many Oji (Takijiri-oji), got my first stamp in my dual pilgrim credential and started up the picturesque steep, rocky and tree-root trail. The first 4km to Takahara were quite the baptism of fire but this was the hardest part of the day.

Takahara is a quaint village with lovely mountain views and crazy steep roads. I stopped at the viewpoint carpark (with wc and vending machines) and thought if I was walking this again then I would love to stay the night here and relax even though it’s only 4km from Takijiri! I also thought that I might’ve missed the cherry blossoms but they’re still blooming here in the mountains.

From Takahara to Chikatsuyu I continued collecting stamps and marvelled at how stunning and varied the trail was… moss-covered stones, tree roots, steep ascents and descents, streams, wildflowers and with the constant background sound of woodpeckers and nightingales. I met two Aussies and a group of French people and everyone agreed, the trail is beautiful.

I arrived in Chikatsuyu around 3pm and found my way to my home for the night at Minshuku Nakano, about a 7 minute walk from Chikatsuyu-oji.  I’ve just had a delicious feast of a dinner and although it’s only 8pm, it’s dark and I’m ready to hit the sack ahead of a long day tomorrow.

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24 responses to “Nakahechi – Day 1 – Takijiri to Chikatsuyu

  1. Kat……..this looks so beautiful! Weather seems nice also. I know its only the first day but i would be interested to know how it compares to Shikoku. Seems more relaxed!
    Look forward to your reports.
    thanks and Buen Camino dual Pilgrim☺
    Aidan

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I might’ve given you the wrong impression 😉 Think of Shikoku’s mountain paths and that’s the entire Nakahechi, quite the henro korogashi path but stunningly beautiful!

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  2. Hi Katrina,
    Such amazing scenery and wildlife. You can understand why this became a way for reflection and contemplation. It looks simply serene. Good that you caught the cherry blossom at this elevation. When I think of Japan I think of cherry blossom. Looking forward to your next blog. Jxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s just great to see on the trail again – your blogs I will be following with great interest. I am still getting over my southern France walk a year ago – the up and down mountains has given me some ware and tear on the knees.
    Stay well and enjoy
    Iain in Melbourne

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad to see you walking again. Thanks for inviting me along. The image “fungus maybe” I know as Indian pipes, it is also called ghost plant and corpse plant according to Wikipedia. Love the mountain views. take care of that ankle.
    Kudos on the Bushwalker article.
    Isabelle

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m delighted to follow you on another trek. Thank you for sharing. We head out in a few weeks to Mont Blanc, we will be walking the tour de Mont Blanc. Next year again from Le Puy to St Jean Pied de Port. I would love to bump the needle off Europe and walk in Asia. Buen Camino!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interested to follow as thinking of doing december this year & January …. How many days and kms is the whole pilgrimage? You said you were taking 6 weeks I think??? enjoy

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    • Hi Sandy, the Nakahechi route typically takes two days from Tanabe to Hongu Shrine and two days from Hongu to Nachi Shrine with other day walks and loop walks in the area. If you had a weekend or a week you could fill both comfortably.

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    • Hi Fiona,
      For the Nakahechi route it’s advisable to book accom in advance as its quite popular (depending on the season). Some places are available on booking.com or you could use the Tanabe booking office. Have a great time!

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    • Hi Lily,
      This stage takes around 5-6 hours but can take longer depending on fitness / rest breaks. Most people get one of the first busses from Tanabe in the morning and allow a full day to walk here or a little further on to Tsugizakura Oji. I hope this helps, have a great trip!
      Kat

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  7. Hi! I am planning to do this route with 2 friends. We want to camp because we have all the camping gear. There are a few problems. First, we found some campsites that have websites but you can only reserve by phone. I tried calling but the calls failed. Do you have any information on camping along the Nakahechi trail? Can we show up to campsites and spots will be open? Is there free camping? I’m fine to pay for campsites, just want to make sure there’s space for our tent! Any advice you have on this would be wonderful. We will be there in July. Thank you!

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    • Hi Colleen,
      Apologies for the delay, I’ve been off-grid hiking. If you haven’t left yet… Camping is only permitted at official campsites and there are campsites at Chikatsuyu, Wataze Onsen and Kawayu Onsen. Your best bet would be to speak to one of the tourist offices (Tanabe / Hongu / Shingu / Nachi-Katsuura) and maybe ask them to try calling for you. The camping isn’t free and from what I saw it was mainly geared to car-camping and quite expensive for few facilities. I hope this gets to you in time,
      Kat

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