熊野古道小辺路 Kumanokodo kohechi Day 1

It took me a while to process the images, even though raw data never matures inside of a hard drive. 

On Sunday, the 3rd of October 2021, I have started Kumanokodo from Mt. Koya. The reason for starting from there was simple, I had completed my 88 pilgrimage there, and it is the easiest access from Tokyo via a night bus to Namba Osaka, arriving at 6:20 am. From there, I took a train to Mt. Koya. I am a typical Tokyo village people, beyond the area where I live in Tokyo, my knowledge of Japan was quite limited, therefore Osaka is definitely foreign to me, finding a train to Mt Koya is challenge,  even though this was second time.

The entrance to Kumano Kodo Kohechi wasn’t very conspicuous, there is a rather small sign. As I enter the pass, I swiftly shifted into walking mode, aiming to maintain a faster pace. While Kohechi is reputedly the most challenging of the three major routes to Kumano, it may not be so tough for someone who has completed the 88 pilgrimage. After all, each section is less than 20 km. I immediately sensed a difference compared to the 88. The pass exuded a positive energy, not only because of the weather or the soft earth underfoot, but perhaps due to its unique location.

熊野古道 小辺路 Kumanokodo landscape path river bridge

During my walk, I often felt that someone was walking behind me, while my mind always strides a few meters ahead. Could the person behind me be another version of myself from a slightly different timeline? Also I often felt that something is hiding and watching at the next corner, perhaps and hopefully charming little spirits?

熊野古道 小辺路 Kumanokodo landscape path mountains pine trees

Smooth walk in the morning, predominantly through well maintained forests. Towards to noon the temperature got higher, I saw only one person walking in the opposite direction, where  just before the pass intersected with a road. Then after I had quick lunch break where there were three off road motorcyclists having a break. They seemed well prepared, with mesquite repellent incense. Fortunately, I had not have issues with bugs during my 88 journey, perhaps it was the season.

熊野古道 小辺路 Kumanokodo road mountains pine trees

I reached an inn / Minshuku just after15. Just before reaching the inn, I noticed a dog leashed to a traditional Japanese dog house, barking rather fiercely. Then I saw two more dogs leashed to dog houses next to the inn, they were also barking loudly. After a refreshing bath, I hung my hand washed, damp clothes by the window to dry in the strong westerly afternoon sun.

The innkeeper called me over, that dinner was ready. I was the only guest that night. The meal served was “Botan Nabe,” a dish I had never tasted before. It was typical of the region, a hot pot featuring wild boar and various vegetables. The innkeeper sat beside me while I was having the meal. He was quite talkative, sharing that he is also a hunter. The three dogs  are his hunting dogs, the most aggressive one stays bit far from Inn which is the first one I saw. In Nara, hunting deer is prohibited, so they predominantly hunt wild boar. Usually, he hunts in a group, the dogs chase the boars towards to hunters range. If he can not join the group for any reasons, he let two dogs to join but not the most aggressive one, it is untameable for other people apparently.  He was sort of complaining how strict the regulation and expensive to keep renewing his licenses.

He mentioned that they have to meticulously record the number of bullets they own and used.  He also mentioned that it is not so profitable to sell meat in the market. They have to follow specific procedures and deliver the prey within the designated time to the licensed meat treatment centre.

18 km for the very first day, on top of not sleeping well on the night bus, I felt tired. So, I had to say thank you and good night to the very talkative owner of the inn, and then I went straight to my futon.

Kumanokodo Kohechi Section 1.  18.44 km Minsyuku kawarabi

熊野古道 小辺路 Kumanokodo landscape vista mountains pine trees












Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *