Temples Of Japan

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes

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Map of Kii Peninsula

Kumano Kodo or Kumano Ancient Road pilgrimages route are one of the only two pilgrimage routes in the world to be recognized in the UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage routes.  The other pilgrimage route in this distinguished list of two, is the "Way of St. James" pilgrimage route.  Kumano Kodo was inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2004.

To the readers of my website, click the web page "Way of St. James" for a brief description of this ancient pilgrimage routes in Europe.

A peninsula is a piece of land that is surrounded by water on three sides Kii Peninsulaand connected to the main land on one side.  Being essentially an island nation, Japan has many peninsulas.  Kii Peninsula is one such peninsula in the Kansai region of western Japan.  The water portion of Kii Peninsula consists of pacific ocean.  The Wakayama prefecture occupies most of the peninsula.  Two other prefectures are prominent in Kii Peninsula; they are Nara and Mie Prefectures.  Both Osaka and Okayama prefectures border the Kii Peninsula.

Kii Peninsula and it's location in Japan

Because of it's location in Japan, Kii Peninsula gets more rain (sometimes too much) than other parts.  Large areas of the peninsula consists of dense forests and mountain ranges. Some of the peaks in these mountain ranges are taller than one thousand feet. 

This mountain rages on Kii Peninsula for centuries have nurtured a special type of ascetic Buddhism known as Shugendo.  Shugendo is popularly known as "Mountain Worship"; basically combines the rituals and gods of Shintoism and Buddhism.  Being remote and mountainous; these mountains have developed certain mysticism about them and so did the religious aspects of various Temples and Shrines that are present in the Kii Mountain Range.

The Kumano Kodo ("Kodo" in Japanese means ancient road) is also known as the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.  In 2004 the three sacred sites of Kumano Sanzen, Koyasan and Yoshino & Omine, as well as the pilgrimage routes that connect them are officially recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Pilgrimage Routes.

So, there are two aspects of Kumano Kodo.  First the three sacred sites in the Kii Peninsula, namely Kumano Sanzen, Koyasan and Yoshino & Omine.  Second the pilgrimage routes that connect them. 

In the next page I will introduce these Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes that comprise Kumano Kodo.

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