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Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of Kii Peninsula

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Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of Kii Peninsula
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of Kii Peninsula

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage consists of Sacred Sites of Kii Peninsula and the Pilgrimage routes that connect them.  The Sacred Sites of Kii Peninsula consist of Yoshino & Omine, Koyasan and Kumano Sanzen.

Each one of these sacred sites have their own charm and I will provide more information about each site in my Buddhist Holy Sites section.  Please check back there for the addition of more information about these Sacred sites.

In this section, I will list the various Temples and Shrines that are part of these Sacred Sites.

1) Yoshino and Omine (all in Nara Prefecture):

       a) Yoshino Mikumari Jinja Shrine
       b) Kimpu Jinja Shrine
       c) Kimpusenji Temple
       d) Yoshimizu Jinja Shrine
       e) Ominesanji Temple

2) Kumano Sanzen (Wakayama and Mie Prefectures):

       a) Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine
       b) Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine (This one in Mie prefecture)
       c) Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine
       d) Seigantoji Temple
       e) Nachi no Otaki Waterfall
       d) Fudarakusanji Temple

3) Koyasan (all in Wakayama Prefecture):

       a) Niutsushime Jinja Shrine
       b) Kongobuji Temple
       c) Jisonin Temple
       d) Niukanshofu Jinja Shrine
       e) Okunoin (Resting place of Monk Kobo Daishi Kukai)

The next aspect of Kumano Kodo pilgrimage is the various pilgrimage routes that connect the above sacred places.  Unlike "Way of St. James" , which consists of various pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela, Kumano Kodo consists of pilgrimage routes connecting the three Sacred Sites mentioned above.  All the routes generally use Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine as a common meeting point.  

The exception to this, is the pilgrimage route that started from the Ancient Capital of Kyoto and ended at Kii Tanabe city.  The name of the route is "Kiji".  This route has a special place in the hearts Japanese Buddhists, as it was used for hundreds of years by the Emperors, nobility and the common man alike to visit the Sacred Sites of Kii Peninsula.

I will briefly mention various routes that connect these Sacred sites.  All the routes generally use Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine of the Kumano Sanzen as the common meeting point.  Please use the above map for basic guidance.  

1) Omine Okugakemichi:  This route starts at Omine in Nara prefecture and ends at the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine in Tanabe city in Wakayama prefecture.  The total distance of this route is about 90 kilometers.

2) Kumano Sankeimichi: This pilgrimage route consists of multiple sub routes.  These routes connect the Kumano Sanzen (Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrines, Seigantoji Temple) and Koyasan.  These sub routes are namely:
     a) Nakahechi: This is the sub route from "Kiji" which forks at Kii Tanabe city and towards the
     Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine.

     b) Kohechi: This sub route connects the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine with Koyasan.

     c) Ohechi: This sub route connects the Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine with Fudarakusanji Temple
     and runs along the coastline of the Wakayama prefecture.

     d) Iseji: Similar to the "Kiji" route this route runs along the east coast of the Wakayama prefecture
     and provides access to the Kumano Sanzen area.

3) Koyasan Choishimichi: This is the shortest of the pilgrimage routes (covering about 25 kilometers) and represents a pilgrimage route to Kongobuji Temple inside Koyasan precincts.  This pilgrimage route was devised by Monk Kobo Daishi Kukai himself, to provide a way for the pilgrims to Koyasan to cover all the holy places in the Koyasan precincts and then reach Kongobuji Temple.

This information will get you started with the basics of the Sacred Sites and the Pilgrimage Routes of Kumano Kodo.  For further information please visit this website: http://www.tb-kumano.jp. This website contains a treasure trove of information about Kumano Kodo, everything from travel tips, access maps to accommodations.  You can also contact me and I can help you with any further information.

(The above maps courtesy of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage brochures)

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