The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails span across the mountains of the Kii Peninsula, located in the Wakayama Prefecture. And along the trails lie three shrines, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha, and Nachi Taisha. I didn’t have enough time to make a trip out to see all three, so I chose to see Nachi Taisha.
I took a 3-hour train from Wakayama Station to Kii-Katsuura Station. From there, it was about another 30-minute bus ride. I suggest getting off at Daimonzaka, a stone path that leads up to the main shrine. Alternatively, the bus also stops at the main entrance of the shrine.
At the base of Daimonzaka, there is a pair of large, 800-year old cedar trees that lie side-by-side called Meoto-sugi, or the “Husband & Wife” cedar trees. There is also a shop at the base of Daimonzaka where you can rent the traditional pilgrim attire. The hike itself was very peaceful, and I was glad that I had the chance to walk along this ancient road.
Upon reaching the top of Daimonzaka, there is a main street lined with shops and restaurants where the bus also stops at. There are a few more set of stairs before reaching Nachi Taisha. Nachi Taisha is a large complex and the entrance to the shrine grounds is free. There is a treasure hall as well; however you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee. I think the most picturesque attraction is the pagoda. Here, you can see the waterfall in the background as well.
There is a separate path back on the main street that leads down to the base of Nachi Falls where you can find a fantastic view of the waterfall. This is supposedly the tallest waterfall in Japan, and probably the most well-known.
I came during the Winter, in the month of February. But I imagine that this would also be amazing to see in the Spring and Summer, heck, in any season!