Urban Camping Japan - Week 5
~ Adventure by Ahslynn and Val ~
Mom found the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage on the National Geographic website. After the Onaida Nature Trail I was a little hesitant to go on another Japanese hike, but since National Geographic recommended it, we thought it shouldn’t be too hard, so we camped out at the start of the trail to begin our pilgrimage the next morning. The beginning of our hike began in a slight sprinkle but it eventually dried out. The cloud formations and atmosphere during the whole hike was miraculous. With the mist rolling in through the woods, the bright orange crabs crawling by, dark red wood chips covering the walkway, and the bright green leaves, the pilgrimage was visually incredible, but not as easy of a hike as we had hoped.
View of the information center at the beginning of the Kumano Kodo trail from inside our Nubé
Woods on Kumano Kodo Hike between Takahara and Jujo-oji
Dorokyo is a gorge on the Kitayama-gawa River, a tributary of the Kumano-gawa River in the Kumano National Park. It is famous for its steep cliffs, clear emerald waters, and unique rock formations. The gorge was a particular favorite portion of our hike because every angle we looked - up, down, and all around - was just so peaceful and ruggedly beautiful.
At one point, we came out on a hilltop village surrounded by rice fields all the way near the top of the mountain range in the Kii Peninsula. By this time, we were completely exhausted, even though it was only six in the evening. We opted to set up our Nubé home and go to sleep. The next day we woke early to be sure to finish our pilgrimage that day. It ended at the next closest bus stop that would take us to the shrines.
Rice field in Takahara
Drying out our hiking clothes at our camp spot midway through our Kumano Kodo pilgrimage
Finishing up our exhausting (but beautiful) pilgrimage and heading to the nearest train stop
We eventually made our way to the Grand Nachi Shrine, which was located by one of the tallest waterfalls in Japan. At the top of the stairs to the shrine, we were greeted by the unforgettable scent of incense. The pagoda with the waterfall in the distance was remarkable, even now it looks like it was photo-shopped, and the experience was surreal. The shrine was one of the best that we visited and the different shops that lined some of the walk-ways were nice. I found a fantastic re-usable bag for Mom.
Kurano Nashi Grand Shrine Torii
Kurano Nashi Pagoda with tallest waterfall in Japan
Leaving the Kii Peninsula we headed for Nagoya, which is also the closest connection to the Shinkansen to our next location. Interestingly we could not find a park in Nagoya to camp out in, but we did find a park-ish area that was around the Nagoya Noh Theater and that is where we slept. It was a great find for us. It was a little farther away from traffic, so it was quieter. In addition, it had less foot traffic as well, so we were able to sleep in.
Our Japan Rail Train ( Shinkansen ) from Katsuura to Nagoya:
After visiting a few other destinations, we eventually made it to Kanazawa. Before leaving this destination for the rice fields, we had to check out the castle. We had previously checked out Himeji Castle, but could not enter the main castle as it is under renovation. Here was us hoping we could see the interior of Kanazawa Castle…alas the actual castle was destroyed hundreds of years ago and they are working on reconstructing the castle following old photos, plans, and pieces that had survived from the original.
Posing with Kanazawa Castle
Exhausted and ready to turn in for the night, we found a park in Kanazawa a little ways away from the castle. We found a nice spot near bathrooms so we could wash up. We set up our Nubé and hammocks and rested like never before.
Kanazawa park urban camp spot right near bathrooms