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!
Note: See here for the other entries of our Kiiji and Kumano Kodo series!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our final destination today, Kainan, is almost there!
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!