Kumano Kodo 2017

User: walkingwerner
Dates: 26 Mar 2017 - 21 Apr 2017
Duration: 3Β weeks, 5Β days
URL: http://www.agoodquest.com/

April 2017 trip with Colorado Mountain Club to Kyoto Japan and hike of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 15:30

Made it home without problems -- it was a little strange to arrive home before I left Japan! Wally met me at airport and after lunch and a shower I slept the afternoon away with the cat, who seems to have forgiven me for leaving her behind!

Posted: April 21, 2017, 9:30 p.m.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 15:18

At gate waiting to board -- hope this plane flies ✈️

Posted: April 21, 2017, 6:18 a.m.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 12:04

Bus to Narita Airport.

Posted: April 21, 2017, 3:04 a.m.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 11:59

Toyko Station.

Posted: April 21, 2017, 2:59 a.m.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 11:57

Heading home! Outside Toyko Station where I'm getting an express bus to the airport. They really have mass transit figured out in this country. It is very easy to get around even without speaking the language you can figure it out.

Posted: April 21, 2017, 2:57 a.m.

Friday 21 Apr 2017 11:48

This is a Koban or a little police station where you can stop and ask for help if you are lost, etc. I never needed to use one but if you ever travel in Japan it is good to know they are readily available.

Posted: April 21, 2017, 2:48 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 15:06

Top portion of the Sky Tower ... now the tallest radio tower. You can't tell from this picture but it is much much taller than the Toyko Tower. I want to say it's 133 meters but I'm not sure.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 6:06 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 13:24

Selfie on top of bus -- it got quite chilly!

Posted: April 20, 2017, 4:24 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 12:52

Their big Ferris wheel.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 3:52 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 12:47

Fuji headquarters building.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 3:47 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 12:35

While the subway was efficient-- I really wanted to see the streets of Tokyo so I found a hop on-hop off double decker bus and toured the city. I'll post some of my pictures but unfortunately my battery died half way through πŸ˜•

Posted: April 20, 2017, 3:35 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 11:29

Just a few of the hundreds of carp flags hanging outside of Toyko Tower.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 2:29 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 11:12

The Eiffel Tower of Tokyo -- pretty cool!

Posted: April 20, 2017, 2:12 a.m.

Thursday 20 Apr 2017 10:00

Pretty proud of myself ... I waited for rush hour to be over and took on the Tokyo subway system. Took three trains on 3 separate lines to get to the Tokyo Tower.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 1 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 16:28

I had heard that on the top floors of some department stores they have traveling museum like exhibits and sure enough this one had costumes and props from Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie. Many people were having their photos taken with the items. There were guards protecting the displays.

Posted: April 19, 2017, 7:28 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 14:53

Spent the day browsing the Ginza shopping district which is like 5th Ave in NYC with international stores like Tiffany's, etc. I skipped all the familiar names and checked out the Japanese stores. Most stores were at least 8-12 stories tall. This one was dedicated to "little notebooks" (one of my favorite things!) they had planners from around the world but I showed remarkable restraint and didn't even buy one!

Posted: April 19, 2017, 5:53 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 12:07

Passed Mt Fuji!

Posted: April 19, 2017, 3:07 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 11:35

Went over water.

Posted: April 19, 2017, 2:35 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 10:45

Flew past fields and small towns.

Posted: April 19, 2017, 1:45 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 10:19

Nice comfy seats, fast, smooth ride -- it's a wonderful way to travel!

Posted: April 19, 2017, 1:19 a.m.

Wednesday 19 Apr 2017 10:09

Taking the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo on my own today. Trains leave every 10 minutes. They pull into station, unload, load and are off in 5 minutes time--it is a marvel to see--you must be organized or you will miss your stop.

Posted: April 19, 2017, 1:09 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 20:55

Our last group dinner before we part ways tomorrow--we opted for American food and found an excellent place for burgers, fries and beer. Everyone agreed the food was great πŸ‘

Posted: April 18, 2017, 11:55 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 18:55

Osaka River just after sunset. We're not on the Kumano Kodo anymore! Osaka has lots of neon, people -- sort of like Times Square in NYC!

Posted: April 18, 2017, 9:55 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 16:41

After dropping backpack off at hotel I went wandering around Osaka checking out the stores, street vendors and sites before meeting rest of group at a burger joint for our final dinner. Check out who was watching the street from above πŸ˜„

Posted: April 18, 2017, 7:41 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 15:02

One of the first buildings we saw as we exited the train station--it appears to be a climbing wall that "climbs the building" pretty wild!

Posted: April 18, 2017, 6:02 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 14:00

Mike leaving us in Tanabe, his home town.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 5 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 11:37

Torri Gate by the sea.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 2:37 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 11:32

Ocean out the other side of the train.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 2:32 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 11:31

Rice fields out of train window.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 2:31 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 10:26

Waiting at train station for a 4 hour train ride along coast to Osaka. One more night together before we all go our separate ways.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 1:26 a.m.

Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 7:41

Had our farewell dinner with our guide Mike!

Posted: April 17, 2017, 10:41 p.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 13:28

Every town we've been in has had at least one orange shop where they sell multiple types of oranges.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 4:28 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 12:58

After leaving the shrine we took the bus to this blue fin tuna fishing port town on the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately the bus was pretty empty because we were all soaking wet and would have really annoyed any one forced to stand or sit next to us. We had to wait until our accommodation was ready for us so we had lunch in town and wandered around the shops. Here are some fishing boats at the port.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 3:58 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 12:30

Where we are spending the night.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 3:30 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 10:46

It's kind of hard to believe but back in the day this is what ladies wore to walk the Kumano Kodo. You can rent these costumes today to try it -- I found it difficult in pants and hiking boots this long dress, hat and wooden flip flops would have killed me those ladies were tough!

Posted: April 17, 2017, 1:46 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 9:48

Gate at final major shrine -- it was raining so hard I didn't take many photos because I was afraid of ruining my phone.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 12:48 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 9:35

Here are some sample pages from my book.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 12:35 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 9:24

One of the things you do at Shrines is gave calligraphers write a blessing for you in a sketch book. The seated gentleman is who inscribed my book.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 12:24 a.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 8:28

I spoke a little too soon about walking in the rain... we did end up walking in a downpour to tour the shine and walk one last mile over an oft photographed trail to officially finish the trail. It was a good thing we saw the pagoda and waterfall yesterday because today the cloud cover was so think you couldn't even see the 3 story orange building unless you were standing directly in front of it.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 11:28 p.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 6:30

Got back to hotel just before it started to down pour! Am so thankful we are not walking the Kumano Kodo today it was very difficult on a sunny day -- it would be deadly today. Plan for today is to tour shrine and then bus into next town where we will get train back to Osaka.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 9:30 p.m.

Monday 17 Apr 2017 5:40

Ancient gong in Buddhist temple where we went to 5:00 am service this morning -- it's amazing how similar their service is to the Benedictine Monks. More commonalities than differences.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 8:40 p.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 17:04

We got here after the shrine had closed for the day but here is a picture of the falls and the Shinto pagoda. Tomorrow we'll be going back to really check this out.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 8:04 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 16:45

The whole crew as we came off the mountain and had some champagne!

Posted: April 16, 2017, 7:45 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 16:40

Here we are at the bottom of the stairs about to enter our last major shrine of the Kumano Kodo. Our amazing guide, Mike Rhodes, surprised us with champagne that he had carried the whole way!

Posted: April 16, 2017, 7:40 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 14:14

The view from a top the third pass--that's the Pacific Ocean and the town we will be in tomorrow.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 5:14 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 14:05

This tower is significant because our guide pointed it out to us yesterday when we were atop another mountain across the valley and it looked impossibly far away and today we were underneath it! This was a top the second pass.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 5:05 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 10:41

Our guide's hat at a break. Many people covet this hat because it was made by an older artisan who makes very few of them today -- it is really a piece of art.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 1:41 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 9:14

Violets -- my favorite flower -- were sporadically along the path -- usually very small.

Posted: April 16, 2017, 12:14 a.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 8:52

Today was an amazing day -- didn't take many pictures because there was no way to really capture the scope of what we did today. We started the day by walking 5 miles straight up hill -- about 105 floors with almost no flat areas. It was incredible because every time you turned a corner there was another set of stairs as far as the eye could see. I didn't think we'd ever get to the top -- felt like a real pilgrimage and that we were on a stairway to heaven. And that was just the first pass of the day!

This picture is of a gizo who protects travelers. He took care of us today πŸ™‚

Posted: April 15, 2017, 11:52 p.m.

Sunday 16 Apr 2017 5:56

Happy Easter! Some lilies at our inn this morning!

Posted: April 15, 2017, 8:56 p.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 16:16

Our robes, jackets and towels for the evening.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 7:16 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 16:15

Our room tonight.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 7:15 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 16:01

The inn where we are staying tonight. It was an old elementary school.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 7:01 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 12:19

Bento Box at lunch -- wrapped in Bamboo it had over 12 different items.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 3:19 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 11:04

View of the Kumano Peaks.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 2:04 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 11:04

Another vantage point.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 2:04 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 9:19

View from top of the first pass of the day.

Posted: April 15, 2017, 12:19 a.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 8:57

A warning sign for pit vipers on the trail. We've seen a couple on the trails but none today!

Posted: April 14, 2017, 11:57 p.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 8:56

Wild irises along the trail.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 11:56 p.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 8:35

Took a very crowded bus from hotel to trail head today.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 11:35 p.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 7:32

This tea is pretty good -- it is sweeten and I usually don't add sugar but it is close enough πŸ™‚

Posted: April 14, 2017, 10:32 p.m.

Saturday 15 Apr 2017 7:24

If you know me, you know I like my black tea with milk... well this country drinks green tea which is not my favorite. Well who would have guessed that Coca-Cola would come to the rescue! They have vending machines that dispense hot and cold beverages. If the price label is red the drink is hot, if blue it's cold.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 10:24 p.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 14:08

Here's the view from the top -- that's the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 5:08 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 13:51

After lunch we climbed these steps to the site of the original shrine,

Posted: April 14, 2017, 4:51 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 12:54

We had a great lunch-- here is our genius chef who walked the Camino de Santiago in 2011.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 3:54 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 12:25

For lunch half of us went to eat at an Italian restaurant with this Camino sign in the window.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 3:25 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 12:05

The actual Nagi-no-Ki tree. It is over 800 years old and it's leaves are a symbol of the Kumano.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 3:05 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 12:00

In front of the Torri Gate at Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 3 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 11:39

Japanese azalea!

Posted: April 14, 2017, 2:39 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 11:14

For a bit along the river they turned off the motor and the captain paddled while the guide played the flute to give us an idea how things were before outboard motors -- it was just lovely.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 2:14 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 10:27

We stopped and got off the boat at one point to rub some rocks which are supposed to give you longevity!

Posted: April 14, 2017, 1:27 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 10:09

What a fully loaded body look like -- we traveled down river in two boats.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 1:09 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 9:59

Here is me and my roomie, Stacey, on the boat.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 12:59 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 9:54

Rather than hike to our next major shrine today we are taking a boat down the river like the Emperors of old used to do -- here's the boat.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 12:54 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 9:01

More carp flags hanging across the river for the upcoming Boys Day on May 5th. No signs of any Easter celebrations.

Posted: April 14, 2017, 12:01 a.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 8:35

UNESCO World Heritage Hot Spring. It has been in use for over 1800 years! There are legends about its restorative and healing powers.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 11:35 p.m.

Friday 14 Apr 2017 8:22

Waiting at bus stop for bus to boat tour.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 11:22 p.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 19:45

Today was Kris's birthday so she got a birthday cake πŸŽ‚at dinner!

Posted: April 13, 2017, 10:45 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 19:00

Room made up for bed.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 10 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 12:23

Here is what our room looks like during the day. When we're at dinner the staff will come in, move the table and set up our futons.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 3:23 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 12:06

Then back to the hotel for lunch and coffee. This is onsein or hot springs coffee. Most of the others are going to climb over the mountain with the little boys and their fathers but my legs are still tired from yesterday so I'm planning on soaking in the hot springs instead πŸ˜„

Posted: April 13, 2017, 3:06 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 10:46

After visiting the Shrine we went to the information center where we were able to apply for our dual pilgrim status. Here I am with my certificate and pin!

Posted: April 13, 2017, 1:46 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 10:15

My Kumano Kodo and Camino credentials.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 1:15 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 9:42

Two of the Shrines.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 12:42 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 9:41

Flowers in the doorway-- possibly there for the festival...

Posted: April 13, 2017, 12:41 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 9:39

When we got to the top we were lucky enough to see the start of the boys ceremony--I was able to get some great photos of these adorable 2 year old boys and their fathers in ceremonial garb and a video of their procession but I can't post them for their privacy. Was special to be able to witness it.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 12:39 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 9:14

The steps up to the shrine -- there is over 200 of them!

Posted: April 13, 2017, 12:14 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 9:06

Another view of the Otorri Gate.

Posted: April 13, 2017, 12:06 a.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 8:53

This is the Otorri Gate. It is 33.9 meters tall and 42 meters wide. It is the largest in the world. It marks the entrance to the location of the original shrine Oyunohara.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 11:53 p.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 8:32

We took the bus back down to the Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine this morning. As we were walking to the entrance I passed this flowering bush.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 11:32 p.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 8:05

The hotel dogs at the front entrance-- front left to right there is Mago, Kasiko, Komaro Yasa (mother) and Kashiko.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 11:05 p.m.

Thursday 13 Apr 2017 7:43

Experienced my first earthquake that I remember last night. Evidently a 3.7 around 2:00 am. Building shook but nothing was damaged. Fell right back to sleep.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 10:43 p.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 21:45

Tonight we are staying in a traditional onsen or hot spring spa. We're going to be here for 3 nights. I was so tired when I got here today I didn't take any photos. Can tell you the hot springs we're great! Just what we needed after today's hike.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 16:43

For Matt: here is a Japanese fire station-- I should be able to get better photos tomorrow but the fire trucks are the size they of large minivans. I'm sure because many streets here are only single lanes.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 7:43 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 16:09

If you look carefully at the clearing in this picture you will see a Torri gate. This is the largest on in the world and it marks the original location of the shrine. I will have close up pictures tomorrow when we go back to the shrine.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 7:09 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 15:05

We walked through a few small villages today. The bushes in this picture are tea bushes. They carefully groom them to maximize the number of leaves.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 6:05 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 13:01

We stopped for lunch by the river, under the cherry trees and ate our rices balls and banana lunch.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 4:01 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 12:06

The pictures don't do the hike justice. The landscape is stunning. Beautiful tall trees, many many waterfalls. Imagine walking through a forest with the sound of rushing water, monkeys talking, frogs chirping, crows cawing it was magical.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 3:06 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 10:30

The good news is that we had a sunny day and got to collect many stamps for our Kumano Kodo credential but it was not any easy hike. We climbed over 3 mountain passes. My iHealth app on my phone says I climbed 133 flights of stairs. I'm not sure how many steps they consider a flight but if you figure a round number like 20 that means I walked up 2,660 steps. I also had to go down at least that many as well! We walked 13.2 miles and has 13,500 steps.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 1:30 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 10:04

To document you were there you find one of these stands that houses a stamp and an ink pad. I'll take a picture of my Kymano Kudo credential tomorrow so you can see what they look like.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 10:02

Along the way we passed different minor Shrines. Here is the water purification dragon and ladles at one of them.

Posted: April 12, 2017, 1:02 a.m.

Wednesday 12 Apr 2017 8:54

Today we hiked to our first of three Grand Shrines, the Kumano Hongo Takisha. This hike is enough to qualify those of us who have done the Camino to receive our dual pilgrim certification.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 11:54 p.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 19:30

The outside our b&b.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 18:52

One of the dishes at dinner tonight -- you get about 10 different things to eat at dinner. This was Japanese "fish and chips" literally. I was very proud of myself for eating it because seeing a similar photo before signing up for the trip gave me pause because I couldn't imagine how you'd eat a whole fish. Turn out you just eat it -- skin, bones and all! Full confession I didn't eat the head or tail.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 9:52 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 18:15

All clean after our amazing Japanese bath. It's quite different you bathe together (women only/men only). First you shower and then you get to soak in an incredible hot soaking tub (think hot tub without the jets). Super relaxing after a long day of hiking.

This photo was taken as we were having beer or sake waiting for dinner to start.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 9:15 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 16:46

Here's our traditional Japanese room with Tatami mats and futons you need to set out.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 7:46 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 16:21

Here is where we staying tonight-- right by the river.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 7:21 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 14:54

One tree was big enough that Stacey, Richard and Mary could crawl inside the tree.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 5:54 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 14:49

One of the trees was so big it took 6 plus adults to circle tree.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 5:49 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 14:46

Shinto shrine with Torii gates and enormous Spruce trees.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 5:46 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 12:55

Here's where we stopped for lunch. We were able to eat out boxed lunches inside if we ordered a drink or bought a snack-- it was great to get out of the rain! I don't have many scenic pictures because of the wind and rain today.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 3:55 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 9:33

That's me with the orange rain cover. Today's hike was challenging at times lots of rain and wind. The gusty wind evidently made the news as being stronger than usual. The whole group did great. The wind knocked down lots of branches so we had to watch our feet and be very alert along the way so we didn't slip.

Posted: April 11, 2017, 12:33 a.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 8:40

Us starting out this morning. The rain was coming down hard.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 11:40 p.m.

Tuesday 11 Apr 2017 8:11

Getting ready to leave this morning. The inn was incredible!

Posted: April 10, 2017, 11:11 p.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 20:11

Our plan for tomorrow meeting... going much further tomorrow-- over 12 km versus 3.7 today. It is forecast to rain all day tomorrow too.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 11:11 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 19:17

Our dinner! I'm amazed at myself -- eating and enjoying this food -- who'd have guessed it tastes so good.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 10:17 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 18:04

Enjoying a glass of sweet plum wine after taking the hot bath in my yukota ( robe supplied by the inn)

Posted: April 10, 2017, 9:04 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 16:54

The view from my room.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 7:54 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 16:31

A cherry blossom near our inn.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 7:31 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 16:22

The fish windsocks ate for Boys Day which is in early May. This was at a park right near our inn.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 7:22 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 16:15

Our final shrine of the day. Had the ancient camphor tree and is one on the oldest original structures on the Kumano ( many have been rebuilt because of fire).

Posted: April 10, 2017, 7:15 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 15:44

Today we only went 3.7 km but it was all uphill much of it very steep and in the rain. We all did great!

Posted: April 10, 2017, 6:44 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 14:48

One of the Kumano Kodo trail signs. The sign on the post says be careful with fire. The first symbol is for fire.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 5:48 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 13:25

Me ready to hike!

Posted: April 10, 2017, 4:25 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 12:29

Lunch! Not a turkey sandwich πŸ˜‰

Posted: April 10, 2017, 3:29 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 12:25

The visitor center at our starting point. Stopped here to eat our Bento lunches and get dressed for the rain.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 3:25 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 11:56

We're off to begin the Kumano Kodo. Taking a 40 minute bus ride to our starting point.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 2:56 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 10:08

The train station with bus station next door.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 1:08 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 9:33

Route 66 signs -- they're world wide! I asked our guide, Mike, about it and he said the Japanese like the idea of the "open road" which isn't really possible here.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 12:33 a.m.

Monday 10 Apr 2017 9:09

Went to the post office to ship a package home. Note the carousel of eyeglasses-- I've noticed these at places where you need to fill out forms.

Posted: April 10, 2017, 12:09 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 19:19

After eating!

Posted: April 9, 2017, 10:19 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 18:00

Waiting for dinner to arrive.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 9 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 14:41

After leaving the store the shop girls came outside and asked if they could have their picture taken with one of the men. When we got back on the bus the all lined up and bowed and waved to us as we drove away!

Posted: April 9, 2017, 5:41 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 14:21

We then went to tour the ume factory which is the major employer in the area. They make the pickled fruit which is typically eaten with rice and/or made into liquor. We went to their factory outlet and a few of us bought some of the liquor. It was impressive to watch the staff quickly wrap up the purchases. Unlike anything in the states.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 5:21 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 12:00

We had a buffet lunch at the school. The restaurant there featured local produce. We got to eat local oranges and have ume (pickled apricots) with our rice. We again ate traditional Japanese style on low tables sitting on tatami floors.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 3 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 11:37

We toured the school and learned about the local citrus industry-- they grow around 30 different kinds or oranges here. The juice we sampled was delicious.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 2:37 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 11:13

First step -- off with our shoes. Slip on shoes versus hiking boots are recommended when visiting Japan because you take your shoes off a lot!

Posted: April 9, 2017, 2:13 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 11:11

We went to tour a local information center for the orange industry in the area that is housed in an old elementary school building.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 2:11 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 11:11

Beautiful orchid found at our first stop.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 2:11 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 10:58

Taking bus to tour umami factory. Note the bus driver's cap and gloves. Taxi drivers also wear these. Many professions wear uniforms. The school children wear them and business professionals when uniform suits.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 1:58 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 10:11

The streets have this yellow bar embedded in the sidewalk which is for the visually impaired -- they can use it as a guide for their canes. The crosswalks also make 2 different bird songs which let them know what direction the light is green.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 1:11 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 10:09

The sun is coming out so hopefully no tsunami today.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 1:09 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 10:06

Walked down to the beach/park. Kids were out playing basketball and skate boarding

Posted: April 9, 2017, 1:06 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 10:04

Just an observation... in the USA the Prius is a smaller almost compact car. Here it is a full size car. Look closely at this photo and you'll see a "minivan" parked behind the Prius and it is shorter in length.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 9:35

Stopped in a bakery and got a jelly doughnut. The breads and pastries here are moist and delicious. The jelly was a fruit flavored bean paste.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 12:35 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 9:27

Japan reportedly has more vending machines than any other country because there is no vandalism. You'll see them every couple of blocks.

Posted: April 9, 2017, 12:27 a.m.

Sunday 9 Apr 2017 8:50

Had a free morning. Took a photo of the map of the town before I went off exploring on my own.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 11:50 p.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 17:53

Me at dinner. I'm sitting on floor. Stacey, who took photo, was standing next to me.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 8:53 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 17:52

The group went to dinner at a traditional Japanese tavern. Food was excellent although I'd be hard pressed to tell you what I ate... fish, chicken, rice, mushrooms and other things... Lots of laughter and fidgeting as we all did our best sitting on the floor for a couple of hours.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 8:52 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 17:44

On our way to dinner we stopped by a shop to sample some ume liquor which was excellent! Tomorrow we'll go see where it is made.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 8:44 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 17:25

This is for Matt-this is what the manhole covers look like. Must be the marker for their "water hydrants."

Posted: April 8, 2017, 8:25 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 16:55

Here is one of the original ancient markets for the Kumano Kodo -- it says turn left here for the Kumano Kodo.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 7:55 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 16:05

A little bar in the entertainment district. If you want a western burger in Tanabe this is where you want to go -- we didn't try it.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 7:05 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 16:00

After the ceremony we walked around town. Here is Chris in a confectioners shop that has been in business over 100 years. We sampled their cake which was delicious πŸ˜‹

Posted: April 8, 2017, 7 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 15:07

Here's my amulet.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 6:07 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 15:06

With the sound of rain drops, a thundering drum, and bells on branches the ceremony was very sensory. We each received a special amulet to keep us safe on the Kumano Kudo.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 6:06 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 15:00

We were incredibly lucky to have a special blessing ceremony for just our group.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 6 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 14:38

Went to the Tanabe shrine which was granted inclusion in the UNESCO World heritage sites in 2016.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 5:38 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 14:31

This is a camphor tree that is thousands of years old. Having such a tree on the grounds of the shine is evidently common.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 5:31 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 12:59

The bathroom. Reminds me of a cruise ship bathroom. Room and bath in Kyoto were similar.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 3:59 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 12:59

My room for two nights before we start hiking. Wonderful to have a single! Not that sharing hasn't been fun but we all like our privacy.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 3:59 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 12:18

At the Kumano Kodo information center. Mike is in the bright green coat.

Posted: April 8, 2017, 3:18 a.m.

Saturday 8 Apr 2017 11:59

Downtown Tanabe in the rain. We just got off the train and were met by our guide Mike. He says starting the Kumano Kudo in the rain means your pilgrimage will be purifying...

Posted: April 8, 2017, 2:59 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 19:04

Kyoto Tower at night. This is near Kyoto Station where I went to dinner. Since it was raining I had Italian πŸ˜‰

Posted: April 7, 2017, 10:04 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 15:43

Another photo of temple in the rain.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 6:43 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 15:40

Zen Buddhist Temple and gardens,Tofuki-Ji, in Kyoto.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 6:40 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 15:06

"Food court" outside shrine.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 6:06 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 14:52

Charms sold at the shrine for "a little luck"

Posted: April 7, 2017, 5:52 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 14:16

Me at the gates.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 5:16 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 14:05

The Torii gates at the Mt Inari Shrine. Torii gates are used to mark the transition from the ordinary world to the sacred most commonly at Shinto Shrines. You're supposed to bow before you go thru one and again upon leaving. You are also supposed to purify yourself by washing your hands and mouth before approaching to pray.

At this shrine there are thousands of gates which businesses have purchased to reflect gratitude for success in business.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 5:05 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 13:53

Here's a map showing the layout -- there are literally thousands of gates heading up the mountain.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 4:53 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 13:46

We took a couple of trains to the Famous Torii gate shrine, Fushimi Inari Shrine which is guarded by foxes.

The fox in Japan represents fertility, rice, tea, sake, agriculture and industry.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 4:46 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 12:35

After the bamboo forest Chris and I decided to head out on our own to visit the shrines that everyone else saw on the first day when we were stuck trying to get here.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 3:35 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 12:31

A rickshaw driver trying to convince a young couple in traditional dress to hire him. It seems like couples rent costumes as a date or photo activity.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 3:31 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 11:59

Piles of prayers at a shrine in the bamboo forest.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 2:59 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 11:49

We walked through a bamboo forest with many other people some of whom were riding in rickshaws. The guys pulling them were amazing. They could really run if they had the space.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 2:49 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 11:30

My roomie, Stacy, rented a bike and met us st the train station.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 2:30 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 11:11

Cherry blossoms are everywhere even on the roof of the train.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 2:11 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 10:54

A pachinko parlor -- super noisy but now all electronic no more steel bearing balls.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 1:54 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 10:05

Ice cream in the rain. I was boring and had vanilla. Next time I'm going to try the black sesame.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 1:05 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 9:59

Cultural differences--controls for the toilet. I pressed the sound button which makes a waterfall sound.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 12:59 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 9:28

The whole gang at Konkani Jo Temple.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 12:28 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 9:25

Proof that I was there!

Posted: April 7, 2017, 12:25 a.m.

Friday 7 Apr 2017 9:22

The Golden Pavilion -- just beautiful -- drizzle with rain drops hanging on the branches added to the sense of peacefulness and beauty.

Posted: April 7, 2017, 12:22 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 16:30

My battery died so no more photos on phone. We went to an incredible performance by the Kyoto Geishas -- easy to see why they are a national treasure. Amazing costumes, music and dancing. No photos were allowed--this is an image from a poster.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 7:30 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 14:21

A sign in front of another temple complex with a list of don't dos. Was surprised you can't sketch. Also notice the no drones...

Posted: April 6, 2017, 5:21 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 14:12

Bunnies are a popular motif -- symbolize spring and many other things. Have seen a few shops dedicated to all things bunny 🐰

Posted: April 6, 2017, 5:12 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 12:15

Signage along the way.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 3:15 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 12:15

Unknown but beautiful flower along the path.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 3:15 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 12:14

Many of us are quite a bit taller than some of the locals 😊

Posted: April 6, 2017, 3:14 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 11:13

Funny photo: "one with the tree"

Posted: April 6, 2017, 2:13 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 10:35

Quotation on wall of beautiful Zen temple. This is the first of many I will be touring. First impressions were it was calming and beautiful in every direction you looked and smelled incredible--a lovely blend of sandlewood and cypress.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 1:35 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 10:27

Zen Temple along the Philosopher's Path.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 1:27 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 10:04

Cherry blossoms for as far as you can see -- just beautiful!

Posted: April 6, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

Thursday 6 Apr 2017 9:57

Here's the whole crew right before we started our walk along the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto. Forecast is for rain but so far we've got just cloudy skies.

Posted: April 6, 2017, 12:57 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 20:18

Festival Lanterns -- or a Japanese donor wall -- lanterns represent businesses/people who help sponsor the event.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 11:18 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 20:11

Large cherry tree lite up in the park.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 11:11 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 19:51

Japanese picnic tables.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 10:51 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 19:50

My dinner. It was very tasty.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 19:19

Yasaka Jinja Shrine in Kyoto where the crowds were out in force for the cherry blossoms.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 10:19 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 19:16

Street food vendors by the shrine. We had a picnic under the cherry trees.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 10:16 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 18:49

One of the more lovely tea houses. Check out the orchid -- it was real!

Posted: April 5, 2017, 9:49 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 18:46

Instructional sign for how to behave if you see a geisha. We saw a few but they were like ninjas - walked quickly and disappeared fast into the tea houses. Never managed to get a photo.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 9:46 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 18:15

A geisha house. The lantern and cherry blossom branch indicate the geisha either live or work there.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 9:15 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 18:05

Made it to hotel just as group was getting ready to leave -- dumped my pack and joined them for a tour of Gion district last night. The cherry πŸ’ blossoms were out in force.

Posted: April 5, 2017, 9:05 a.m.

Wednesday 5 Apr 2017 14:52

Made it! Found this PokΓ©mon just outside of customs πŸ˜€

Posted: April 5, 2017, 5:52 a.m.

Tuesday 4 Apr 2017 10:27

On third Dreamliner, this time in an economy plus window seat, praying this plane works. So far has a more bustling energetic feel to the boarding process. I really want to catch up with group tonight and not miss any more of tour of Kyoto.

Posted: April 4, 2017, 5:27 p.m.

Tuesday 4 Apr 2017 7:50

Hoping this plane has what it takes to get to Japan -- fingers crossed πŸ™

Posted: April 4, 2017, 2:50 p.m.

Tuesday 4 Apr 2017 7:25

Easy ride and security at San Francisco International airport this morning--hopefully an auspicious start for today's travel!

Posted: April 4, 2017, 2:25 p.m.

Monday 3 Apr 2017 22:05

Made to San Francisco and am staying in a perfectly nice Comfort Inn complements of United Airlines. Have 11:05 am flight tomorrow to Osaka. The bad news is that it is another Dreamliner plane and I'm hoping the third one is the charm and it will work.

Posted: April 4, 2017, 5:05 a.m.

Monday 3 Apr 2017 17:04

Yay! I'm now on a plane to SanFrancisco with a flight tomorrow to Japan at 11:00 am -- may make it there in time for night group activities. United rescheduled our flight for 3:00 pm tomorrow but didn't want to chance it again. Also discovered when trying to rebook ticket to Osaka versus Toyko that Air Nippon had cancelled my entire trip because I was a no show for my connecting flight yesterday. I just had to purchase an entire new round trip flight! I can look forward to trying to get a refund when I return home.

Posted: April 3, 2017, 11:04 p.m.

Monday 3 Apr 2017 15:08

STILL in Denver! Second plane is officially out of commission they are looking for another plane. Hoping to leave today because storm is expected in Denver tomorrow-- at this rate will likely miss first day of tour.

Posted: April 3, 2017, 9:08 p.m.

Monday 3 Apr 2017 10:25

On plane again -- changed seat to aisle and there is good chance will have an open middle seat πŸ™‚We're on a different plane so hopefully this one works.

Posted: April 3, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

Monday 3 Apr 2017 8:58

At gate -- ready to try again! The plane is at gate and someone is in the cockpit so hopefully all is well. Thanks to Holly and Kona for getting up and driving me to airport in rush hour traffic ❀ P.S. I'm wearing the same clothes as yesterday but they've been washed πŸ˜‰

Posted: April 3, 2017, 2:58 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 18:42

If you can't fly to Japan having a Freddy's sundae with my wonderful daughter is the next best thing!

Will try again tomorrow to get to Kyoto. Nice to sleep in my own bed again but have lost my planned recovery day in Japan.

Posted: April 3, 2017, 12:42 a.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 17:37

So after sitting on the plane all afternoon (5hrs) and never leaving the gate they cancelled the flight. Chris and I decided to have a pint while we waited for our rides to come back to the airport to get us.

Posted: April 2, 2017, 11:37 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 16:04

Re boarding. Have missed connecting flight so will now take train to Kyoto with Chris.

Posted: April 2, 2017, 10:04 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 15:59

3 hours later I'm still in Denver! They kicked us off plane to fix something electrical so I went to get a coffee.

Posted: April 2, 2017, 9:59 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 12:08

Found Chris waiting to board plane! We're off!

Posted: April 2, 2017, 6:08 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 11:33

Airplane--not very big but it can go a long way fast 😁unfortunately I wasn't able to upgrade to stretch seating so I'm got a middle seat in the back but at least I'm on the plane ✈️

Posted: April 2, 2017, 5:33 p.m.

Sunday 2 Apr 2017 9:42

At DIA ready to go!

Posted: April 2, 2017, 3:42 p.m.

Sunday 26 Mar 2017 12:19

One week and counting! Bag is packed almost ready to go... just have one more week of work and a bunch of projects to finish up πŸ€— I updated my website http://www.agoodquest.com and added info about the Kumano Kodo trip. Check it out!

Posted: March 26, 2017, 6:19 p.m.

Kumano Kodo 2017

User: walkingwerner
Dates: 26 Mar 2017 - 21 Apr 2017
Duration: 3Β weeks, 5Β days
URL: http://www.agoodquest.com/

April 2017 trip with Colorado Mountain Club to Kyoto Japan and hike of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route.

Thanks Joanne! See you soon!

Congratulations on achieving dual pilgrimage status and on completing your journey! I love Japanese calligraphy. It's so beautiful. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Japan and safe travels back home, Joanne

Your journey is almost over. It sounded fabulous. I'm anxious to talk more about the trip with you. Congratulations on your courage. Mom

Thanks Donna! It has been an amazing journey! Today is my last full day in Hapan and I'm about to tackle the Tokyo subway system so I can see some of the tourist sites. Wish me luck!

Congratulations on your dual pilgrimage TC! What an amazing journey you've had and I've learned much from you. Loved your fabulous photos too!

I'm glad you made it off the trail with no mishaps. It looked incredible. Safe journey home.

TC,
What an amazing journey you have had! Congratulations on earning an achievement that few have the courage to attempt. Proud of you!
Love,
Linda

The photos are wonderful. It looks like a great experience. Congratulations on your duel certificate.

TC, you are AMAZING!

Thanks Kate! I'm really glad I'm o. This trip -- it seems like a once in a lifetime type experience. We have a great group and are having a lot of fun.

Mom, you are doing amazing things! I am so proud of your for your dual pilgrimage! Everything looks so beautiful (and I can't wait to find out which pictures you will be painting 😁) .
Love you!

Very nice, TC, and congratulations on achieving your dual qualification! You had a hard and what appears to be wonderful day today, and your photos are beautiful. Glad you had nice weather today.

I love your pictures TC!!! I'll be checking in to see what you're up to :) Love Taylor Smith

The hiking is challenging -- lots and lots of uphill. Trail is full of hazards: slippery rock, tree roots, fallen branches, mud... but I'm doing just fine. My Camino experience has been really helpful. Even without really training for this well I feel like my body has muscle memory and knows what to do. I feel a healthy sense of tiredness but nothing hurts.

Has the hiking been hard or ok so far?

Really enjoying the photos. The cherry blossoms and orchids are incredible. Love being able to "travel " with you. The shrines are beautiful. Keep the photos coming. Be safe!

It is my first time in Asia and I agree much is the same yet there are all the differences especially with the food. I decided to "suspend judgment" on this trip and try every thing I was offered regardless of how it looked because I have no idea how anything would actually taste. So far I haven't been disappointed I'm actually enjoying most things, am getting much more proficient with the chopsticks and am even getting more comfortable sitting on the floor.

Your photos of shrines, bean paste and vending machines are bringing back memories of my trips to Tokyo in the 90s when I worked for a company that had offices overseas. I couldn't remember if this is your first time to Asia. So much different than the western world, and yet many similarities. There was a Shakeys pizza parlor with some pizzas with Japanese flavors, like seaweed. I didn't try it. But it was so unusual to me to see that. Hope you've been able to enjoy some of the cuisine, in spite of sitting low on the floor sometimes.

It looks like you are having a wonderful time so far - keep those lovely photos coming πŸ˜€

TC, Thanks for sharing your adventure. The photos are great!

Those Cherry πŸ’ Blossoms are stunning! What a super time to be there!

Sorry you had such a difficult start to your trip. You never know what force was at play to keep you from some unknown danger. Keep the pictures coming. Everything looks beautiful.

Yay! Enjoy your trip TC!

Sure hope you are on Japanese soil now!

I'm hoping this counts as "paying my dues" and the rest of the trip is smooth sailing!

Look at the delay as the making of additional memories from this new journey! Can't wait to follow your walk!

hope that the" bumpy road " start of your trip only means smooth sailing is ahead. Looking forward to reading of your adventures. Love, Mom

TC,
Hoping you can get out of town soon! Wishing you lots of fantastic experiences on this trip. Will be following along, living vicariously through your adventure!
Love,
Linda

Thanks!

Have a great trip!