The Kii Peninsula, a spiritual path

Itinerary : Osaka - Mont Koya - Yoshino - Kumano - Ise - Nara

3 days from $ 274*

The Kii Peninsula, which includes the prefectures of Wakayama, Osaka, Nara and Mie, is an important religious centre in Japan, with many sacred Shinto and Buddhist sites. These central mountains are home to many pilgrimage trails, where temples and shrines are side by side and to which we could add the words "this is where it all began." If you are not yet ready for the pilgrim's staff, we suggest a road trip.

Mont Koya

Mont Koya

To go from Osaka to Mount Koya, first take the Kinki motorway (近畿自动车道) in Higashi-Osaka, for example, or one of the entrances to the east of Osaka. A little over ten kilometres further on, turn off at Matsubara towards Mihara. You can also reach Matsubara directly by the urban motorway.

After approximately 5 km, exit at Minami Mihara-and continue straight on to the prefectural Route 36 for 3.5 km until you come to the Mount Koya Road or Koyan Kaido (高野街道), where you will turn left.
This route number 371 will take you through Hashimoto and as far as Mount Koya.

To make the most of Mount Koya, an important Buddhist site, it is recommended that you stay for at least one night and that you take the time to walk around the town. At Mount Koya it is possible to sleep in a temple and to enjoy the vegetarian cuisine of the Buddhist monks.

Journey time: 2 h 20 min / 90 km
Cost **: 2,350 yen




From Mount Koya, take the Route 371 back to Hashimoto, then head east on the Yamato Kaido road (大 和 街道), then the Ise Kaido road (伊 势 街道) for about 30 km to Yoshino.

With some 30,000 trees, Yoshino is the spot to see Japan’s most renowned cherry blossoms. It also serves as the departure point for pilgrimages to Mount Omine, and it is home to many temples such as Kinpusenji or Mikumari shrines.

Journey time: 1 h 40 min / 60 km

From here, continue your spiritual journey to the Kumano region. You can begin your pilgrimage (by car...) by going to the Hongu Taisha shrine, one of the three of Kumano Sanzan shrines.

From Yoshino, go back on the Ise Kaido road for about 5 km to the town of Gojo (五条) where you turn left onto Route 168. This road that is also called Gojo Shingu Kaido (五条 新 宫 海道,) takes you, after about 90 km through the mountains, to the Kumano Taisha Hongu shrine.

After your visit, head south, still on the Gojo Shingu Kaido, to reach the town of Shingu. After visiting the Hayatama Taisha shrine, the second Kumano Sanzan temple, head for the third shrine, Nachi Taisha.
Take Route 42 or Kumano Kaido to the town of Nachi. Once in the town, Route 43 and then Route 46 ascend the mountain to take you to the Nachi Taisha temple.

Journey time: 4 h 50 min / approximately 165 km




Your next spiritual stopover will take you to Ise. To get there from Shingu, take Route 42 or Kumano Kaido for about fifty kilometres and at Kisei O-Uchiyama, take the Kisei motorway (纪 势 自动 车道). At the Seiwataki junction (势和多気), change onto the Ise motorway (伊势自动车道) and about 20 km later you will arrive in Ise.

The Ise shrine is in reality composed of several shrines dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu and is the holiest site of the Shinto religion. The architecture of its pavilions is purely Japanese and does not show any outside influence, as is often the case with other religious places in Japan.

Journey time: 3 h 30 min / approximately 165 km
Cost **: 1,300 yen

Finally, you can go to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan, also a city that gives witness to the development of Buddhism, with the most conspicuous symbol, the Todaiji and its gigantic Buddha.

Go back on the Ise motorway and continue north for about 65 km, then at Ise-Seki, take the Meihan road, or Route 25 towards Osaka. About 70 km later you will approach Nara. Exit at Tenri Junction (天理) for Route 169 that takes you to the centre of Nara.

Journey time: 2 h 30 min / 150 km
Cost **: 1,900 yen

From Nara you can return to Osaka by taking the Nishi-Meihan motorway for about 50 km.

* Price for category P1, pick-up and drop off of the vehicle in the same agency
** This cost corresponds to toll fares and ferries

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