Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail 4: From Yamanakadani to Kainan

The Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail that stretches from Osaka to Kii-Tanabe, is an ancient trail that leads to the sacred Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage in southern Wakayama. Since the trail is rather long, we decided to attack it in parts. This time, we resumed our journey from Yamanakdani, the southernmost point of Osaka, to Kainan, which is just south of Wakayama City. Today, we will finally cross the border between Osaka and Wakayama!

The Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail : Yamanakadani to Kainan

Yamanakadani – Kii

We began again on a journey along the Kiiji Trail at the JR Yamanakadani Station ( on the Hanwa Line). Yamanakadani sits at the southernmost in Osaka prefecture and is an hour away from Osaka City. It is a really small station with only a handful of people (including us) getting off at this station.

From this point, the Kiiji Trail crosses the Izumi Mountain Chain, aka the Kisen Alps, which stands between Wakayama and Osaka Prefecture via the Onoyama Pass. Should you ever decide to hike this section of the trail, keep in mind that there is no sidewalk, and traffic is frequent. Stay alert!

Border of Wakayama and Osaka prefecture on the Kiiji Trail
We finally reached the border of Wakayama Prefecture.

30 minutes after Yamanakadani, we finally entered Wakayama Prefecture! However, it is still a long way to Kumano, since Wakayama is a rather big prefecture. The Kiiji Trail crosses Wakayama from north to south and we are still only at the north tip of the prefecture.

While the marks for the oji throughout Osaka were pretty simple, the ones in Wakayama are quite elaborated, and often included a lot of historic information about each one. 

Nakayama Oji along the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Just after the border we found our first oji in Wakayama, Nakayama Oji.
Onoyama Pass along the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
The Onoyama Pass.
Onoyama Pass on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
This pass maybe hard if you go up from Wakayama

After crossing the Onoyama Pass, brought us to Yamaguchi Oji, and just after that point, the trail got comparatively busy. The buses that use this road have a pretty hard time maneuvering in their lanes since the road is very narrow. 

Yamaguchi Oji of the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Yamaguchi Oji
small road in Wakayama
Hard to believe that buses use both lanes of this narrow road!

 

Kii – Idakiso 

Compared to its Osaka counterpart, the Wakayama section of the Kiiji Trail predominately goes through the countryside. The Wakayama section of the trail has so many different kinds of beautiful scenic paths that go through beautiful mountains, tangerine groves, and of course what Wakayama is most famous for–beaches. It’s really exciting to experience so many different views along one trail!

countryside in Wakayama
The beautiful Wakayakama countryside.
Kawabe Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Kawabe Oji. Kawabe literally means riverside as the Kinokawa River is near here.
Site of Nakamura Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Former site of Nakamura Oji Shrine.

After the Kinokawa River, there are several oji, but none of them are in their original locations since the Kinokawa River occasionally flooded, forcing the sites to relocate. The Kiiji Trail also meanders a lot here probably for that same reason.  

Mt. Takatsumi
Kinokawa River and Mt. Takatsumi, which is 237m high. It is a beautifully shaped mountain.
Kinokawa River
Kinokawa River is a huge river! On the left is Kisen Alps.
Hanzaki Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail.
Hanzaki Oji
Kawabata Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail.
Kawabata Oji

It is surprising how different the Kiiji Trail is in Osaka versus Wakayama. For example, in Wakayama, you can find more traditional, countryside-style houses along the trail.  Another, one of the biggest and probably nicest differences is that the Kiiji Trail in Wakayama has many more signs, so it is much easier to follow than in Osaka.

The gate of former Nakasuji Residence
The gate of Former Nakasuji Residence
Wasa Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Wasa Oji

From Wasa Oji, the Kiiji Trail briefly passes a mountain path just before reaching Idakiso Shrine. Though it is only a couple hundred-meter long mountain path, it was pretty steep.

Kisen Alps
View of the Kisen Alps.
Mountain path to Idakiso
Going through a mountain path
Tangerine fields in Idakiso on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Famous Wakayama tangerines on left
Hirao Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail
Hirao Oji

Idakiso – Kainan

We finally arrived at Idakiso Shrine. Together with the nearby Nichizen-gu and Kamayama Shrine, this is one of the most famous shrines in north Wakayama. It is worth noting that the reason the Kiiji Trail does not go through the central area of Wakayama City is that the Kiiji Trail exist long before the city was established. 

Idakiso Shrine is an important marker, not only because of the shrine’s significance, but because from here, it takes another half and an hour to Kainan. 

Idakiso Shrine
Idakiso Shrine
Nakuchi Oji
Nakuchi Oji: there are several stories as to where Nakuchi Oji was located
Kiiji near Kainan
Really nice to walk around here
Matsuzaka Oji on the Kumano Kodo Kiiji Trail.
Matsuzaka Oji

After Matsuzaka Oji and just before a local driving school, there was a stone-paved road right next to a pond. The ambiance of this little stone path is an echo of what walking on the Kumano Kodo was like for pilgrims centuries ago. 

old Kumano Kodo in Kainan
This little path is easy to miss, so keep your eyes open!

Our final destination today, Kainan, is almost there! 

Shiomi Pass
Shiomi Pass
Matsushiro Oji
Matsushiro Oji: this oji is a bit hard to find. It is on the hill next to the community center

So, that’s it today. From Matsushiro Oji, Kainan Station of JR Kinokuni Line is only 10 minutes away. Kainan is only 15 minutes away from Wakayama Station and roughly an hour from Osaka by limited express Kuroshio.

All in all, it took 6 hours to walk to Kainan from Yamanakadani, but it was a comfortable walk. Next time, we are going to walk from Kainan to Yuasa via Fujishirasaka.From Kainan, the Kiiji Trail goes through many mountains and is quite different from what we have walked so far!

 

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