To better get acquainted with the rich and eventful past of Japan, doing a pilgrimage through its ancient trails and routes is a must. You can purchase your JR Pass in Australia here
The following are examples of the best pilgrimage routes that you can try on your next trip:
Located in the southern portion of Kansai region, the Kumano Kodois aUNESCO world heritage site that is made up of the following pilgrimage trails:
- Iseji Trail – A route that links Kumano to Ise Shrine, Iseji is a coastal trail surrounded by paved villages and pathways. It offers various picturesque sceneries along the way, most particularly around the areas of Matsumoto Pass in Kumano City and Magose Pass in Owase City.
- Nakahechi Trail – This passes through a wooded hill and a number of small villages. It is a relatively easy course that can be completed in about two days. If you are doing this route, you should consider staying overnight in a minshuku (or Japanese-style bed and breakfast) in Chikatsuya Oji. It ends in HonguTaisha, where you will be welcomed by a large, towering torii gate.
- OmineOkugake– This is a long, hard, and dangerous trail that links Yoshino and Kumano, and passes through Mount Omine.
- Kohechi – Situated atop a mountain, Kohechi provides a connection between Koyasan and Kumano. Because of its higher level of difficulty, travellers are advised to carefully plan and prepare for the trek. Lodging options through the route are very few, and distances between valley towns are large.
- Ohechi – A coastal trail between NachiTaisha and Tanabe, it has become less popular and visible due to the rise of modern roads and infrastructures around it.
Also sometimes referred to as the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail is located in the island of Shikoku, and features the best views and scenery the area has to offer.The trail begins at the Ryozenji Temple in Naruto City in Tokushima, and the last temple on the route is the Okuboji Temple in Sanuki in Kagawa.
The entire pilgrimage trail is a loop that is about 1,200 kilometers long, and can be finished in about five weeks to seven weeks. To be able to say that you have successfully completed the trek, you need to visit all of the official 88 temples, as well as the 20 non-official ones along the way, and go back to the starting point.