DAY 5 – TAKAHARA to TSUGIZAKURA, Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) 2 of 3, Japan
At around 10:30am, we left Takahara and continued to hike east towards Tsugizakura. In the next seven hours, we passed by a number of shrines, including Daimon Oji, Jujo Oji, Osakamoto Oji and stopped by the Chikatsuyu Village. We took our time along the way, checking out almost every shrine and lookout, some of which required a short detour from the main trail. The shrines (Oji) were in various conditions of preservation, from decently intact to completely in ruins or even disappeared entirely except an interpretation signpost. In Tsugizakura, a small village 18km from where we began our hike at Takijiri, we checked in at Minshuku Tsugizakura.
After Takahara, dense forest took over the scenery of rice fields and green rolling hills.
Soon after we ventured into the forest we encountered two timber shelters.
Perhaps these shelters were resting huts for local loggers.
Evidence of forestry was common along Kumano Kodo.
At each major oji (shrine) along Kumano Kodo stood a wooden shelter where hikers can obtain a souvenir stamp chop.
A small porcelain cup at Osakamoto Oji was left for hikers to leave a small offering.
Although small, the statues at Gyubadoji shrine were beautifully carved.
More detailed stone carvings were found at Gyubadoji shrine.
At 3pm, we were approaching the village of Chikatsuyu, a popular destination for hikers to stay the night.
We entered the village of Chikatsuyu via a bridge spanning across the Hiki-gawa River. The atmosphere of Chikatsuyu resembled an Alpine village in Europe.
While many hikers stopped at Chikatsuyu for the night, we still had another 1.5 hour before reaching Tsugizakura, where we could finally rest for the night at Tsugizakura Minshuku.
We passed by a number of self-served vending spots where local villagers left their agricultural products or handcrafts for sale.
Along the way, we saw a number of interesting scarecrows.
Before leaving Chikatsuyu we saw a large school complex.
Inside the school fence, a cool playground equipment caught our attention.
Upon leaving Chikatsuyu, we passed by a long flight of stair leading up to the torii gate of a local shrine.
By the time we reached Hisohara Oji in half an hour, it was only twenty minutes away from Tsugizakura.
Because of the humid climate, much of the stone pavement and walls were carpeted with moss.
Finally at about 5pm we reached the famous torii gate of Tsugizakura Oji. Tsugizakura means “grafted cherry tree”. Accordingly to historical account, an aristocrat from the 12th century passed by a cherry tree grafted on a Japanese cypress at this location. Today, a number of century-old Japanese cedar trees still remain.
At top of the stairs beyond the torii gate stood the shrine. We clapped our hands, paid a small offering, and were grateful for reaching Tsugizakura after a long day of walking in relatively good weather.
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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