Kumano Kodo Nature Hiking & Ise Grand Shrine Trip: Part 4

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 Finally it was time for the main event: the longest hike on the Kumano Kodo route, which is a series of ancient pilgrimage paths that are over 1,000 years old.

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 The entrance of the path began with this lovely torii gate, signifying our entrance into a scared space.

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 After walking through heavy forest, we were suddenly in wide open fields of farms and quaint little houses. The weather was unbelievable.

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 We were lucky to be on the path during cherry blossom season, for the wild sakura trees were in full bloom. Everyone loved it!

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 There were several of these small rock sculptures casually sitting on tree stumps along the pathway. It was so nice to see evidence of other visitors.

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 We even saw the giant torii gate we had visited earlier in the trip! As you can see, even from so far away the gate is spectacularly large.

 

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Also marking the path were many of these stone markers, which I presume are gravestones of some sort (I’m not exactly sure, though). On each of these, there were piles of rocks stacked on top and around the base.

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 It was beautiful view after beautiful view as the path wove through forests and open spaces. This view was one of my favorites, especially because of the wild sakura trees and the hazy blue mountains in the horizon.

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After a few hours of hiking, we reached the shrine, which has an emblem of a three-legged crow.

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 We were lucky enough to see some Shinto priestesses and priests in a procession!

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 The shrine was absolutely beautiful. It was a perfect, peaceful conclusion to our day of hiking.

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