Kumano Kodo and the Camino

Kumano Kodo, Japan’s Camino, celebrates 10 years as a UNESCO-listed heritage trail today. Similarly to the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims have been following the journey to Kumano for over 1000 years, taking a network of routes across the forests, rivers, mountains and valleys of the Kii Peninsula. It was here Kyoto’s emperors came to as a spiritual retreat: they would purify themselves in some of the natural hot springs (including Yunomine Onsen, Japan’s oldest spa village), walk in the deep forest and pray at one of the three sacred sites, known as Kumano Sanzan: Hongu, Hayatama and Nachi.


In 2004, UNESCO added the various Kumano Kodo routes to its prestigious World Heritage list, recognising the cultural and spiritual importance of Japan’s Camino.

Since they share a history and tradition of pilgrimage, Santiago de Compostela and Tanabe City tourism officials have been working in recent years to promote both trails together and both UNESCO pilgrimage routes have been twinned since 1998. Following a recent visit to the Camino de Santiago by Japan’s Prince Naruhito, Galician representatives walked part of the Kumano Kodo ancient trail a few weeks ago. It is also possible to get a dual Kumano Kodo-Camino de Santiago pilgrim passport to get stamped along both trails.

The Kumano region has been a sacred place for centuries and is regarded as the cradle of Japanese culture and spirituality. A pristine land of outstanding natural beauty, located south of Osaka and Kyoto, the Kii Peninsula is home to a unique mix of Shinto and Buddhist temples, a testament to the peaceful exchange of cultures and religions in Japan.

For more information about the Camino de Santiago or to book your Kumano Kodo trip, contact our travel specialists




  1. By Maria

    Hi William, we don’t have tours on the Kumano Kodo at the moment but the Kumano Travel Centre: http://www.kumano-travel.com/ in Tanabe will be able to help you, Oku Japan have guided tours on the Kumano Kodo also: https://www.okujapan.com/ways-to-go/type/self-guided. I did the Nakahechi route myself a couple of years ago and just loved it! https://www.okujapan.com/trips/kumano-kodo-self-guided-walking-5-days-12 Kindest regards. Maria

  2. By Maria

    Hi Ian, at the moment we are not organising trips on the Kumano Kodo but we’ll send you some information by email shortly. Kind regards

  3. By Ian Hales

    Hi! I completed the Camino de Santiago last year in July and what amazing adventure. My friend would like to do the Camino Japan mid next year. Can you provide us with some information on this walk? Thanks Ian

  4. By Maria

    Hi Brenda, thank you for your note, we will send you some information by email shortly.

  5. By Brenda PanTangoo

    I just finished my Camino de Santiago journey and
    it was amazing. I met several Canadian friends who
    raved about booking with CaminoWays.
    Could you please send me info on the Japanese Camino. I am very interested in working toward my next venture and trust you to point me in the right direction for how this can be done on the Japanese Camino. I cannot carry my backpack and need alternative transport plans.
    With much appreciation!

  6. By Maria

    Hi Lili, at the moment we are not organising trips to the Kumano Kodo ourselves, but the Kumano Travel Centre: http://www.kumano-travel.com/ in Tanabe will be able to help you. Kindest regards.

  7. did my Sarria to sdc camino through caminoways. Would you pls send me info on this?

  8. By Lisa

    Hi Pauleen, thank you for your e-mail. I will send you information today. Best wishes, Lisa.

  9. By Pauleen

    Appreciate any information you could send me on the Kumano Kodo.
    Thank you

  10. By Maria

    Hi Yali, I will email you information shortly. Kind regards. Maria

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