DAY 7 – KUMANO HONGU TAISHA, Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) 3 of 4, Japan
At Hongu, we dropped off our backpacks at a locker across the street from the main entrance of Kumano Hongu Taisha. We then went to check out the heritage centre where we learnt a little more about the history of Kumano Hongu Grand Taisha and the Kii mountain range. The Kumano Hongu Taisha is the house for the deity of Kumano Gongen, where pilgrims came to pay their respect to the deities of Kumano area for almost 1000 years. Every spring, the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival would take place with three days of ceremonies.
On a bench outside of the centre, we took out the lunchboxes for a quick lunch. The yummy lunchboxes were ordered online before we left for our trip and delivered to our hotel at Yunomine in the morning. After lunch, we took our time to visit Kumano Hongu Taisha a second time. This time, we had more time to examine the donor lanterns, flags, signs, etc. along the main access path. After a relaxing stroll around the complex, we walked down the main entrance stairs one last time under the afternoon sun. We picked up our backpacks at the locker and walked over to the bus stop in front of the heritage centre, where we would hop on a bus for Wataze Onsen.
The banner at Kumano Hongu Heritage Center commemorated the 10th anniversary of inscription into UNESCO’s World Heritage for “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”.
The Heritage Center represents a good example of modern architecture with a traditional touch.
33.9m tall and 42m wide, the Torii gate at the entrance to the sandbank of Oyunohara is the largest in the world. This is where the original Kumano Hongu Taisha stood over a century ago, before the devastating floods destroyed much of the old shrines.
Along with our accommodation and luggage shuttle service, we also reserved this local lunchbox online at http://www.tb-kumano.jp prior our arrival in Japan.
Housed in a bamboo box, our lunchbox contained a number of seasonal local delicacies.
Rebuilt after flood damages, the Zuihouden next to the entrance of Kumano Hongu Taisha houses religious study areas, a hall and a souvenir shop.
The stair leading up to the main shrine is flanked both sides with donor flags.
Worshipers put all kinds of wishes onto these wooden “ema” to communicate with the deities.
Tying the Omikuji, the fortune telling paper slips onto trees or ropes at the shrine is a common customs of worshiping.
Small bamboo flags were another common option for worshipers to leave their messages.
Before entering the complex, cleaning our hands at the purification trough had become a common practice even for foreign visitors like us.
Wooden staff in hand, lots of elderly worshipers spend great effort in walking the pilgrim route before reaching Kumano Hongu Taisha.
Our second visit to the Hongu Taisha. This time we had all the time we needed to wander around the complex.
Beside the main shrines stood this small and popular shrine under tree shade.
After a thorough visit, we walked down the main stair once again.
Lanterns with donor’s name were hung on a rack near the main gate of Kumano Hongu Taisha.
We bid farewell to the Kumano Hongu Taisha under the late afternoon sun.
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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka