Our last day in Wakayama was a very long day, it included leaving our magical bubble in Yunomine (oooh!), hiking (way up and up!), visiting temples, checking out the famous pagoda next to Nachi falls and going back to Tokyo. All in a single day, and its perfectly doable!
Let’s go for it!
We travelled to Nachi Falls from Yunomine Onsen, with the following itinerary:
- Bus from Yunomine to Shingu, it leaves from the bus station in front of the Adumaya Ryokan. It takes 69 minutes.
- Train from Shingu to Kii-Katsuura. It takes 17 minutes.
- Bus from Kii-Katsuura to Daimonzaka slope. It takes 19 minutes.
Both Shingu and Kii-Katsuura stations were an amusement in themselves. The first one has this cute panda mascot and you can take pictures on the kawaii seat. Moreover, just outside the station you’ll find the cutest shop called Chou Chou, were we had (the best I ever tasted) homemade matcha bubble tea. The shop is adorable and super tiny and also offers some food if you are travelling during lunch hours.
On the other side, Kii-Katsuura has a fishermen retro village vibe that we adored! Make sure to check the surroundings! We were able to visit while waiting for the bus, and also before taking the train back to Tokyo once we got back from our day at Nachi falls.
The bus from Kii-Katsuura can take you directly to Nachi Taisha shrine or Nachi falls, but we decided that we couldn’t miss the impressive cobblestone staircase slope, part of the millenary Kumano Kodo, and thus got off at a previous stop.
The Daimon-zaka slope runs from the base of the valley until the Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine in a relatively short hike (only 600m and 267 stairs). You should definitely not underestimate its difficulty, we got on top quite without any breath! Although the route is so beautiful you really don’t mind as you are always surrounded by centuries-old Japanese (very) big cedars and bamboo groves.
Compared to the Dainichi goe (the other trail from the Kumano Kodo we did) I very much recommend doing this one. It was definitely more popular but it’s beauty is undeniable.
After all the stairs up in the sky…ehem… mountain, we got to Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine to find it covered with white cloths and under restoration. I can’t deny it was definitely a big disappointment. However once we crossed the renovation area the gorgeous Seiganto-ji temple was going to make more than amends for that.
In addition, from here you are already able to see the most iconic view of Nachi, its pagoda with the waterfall behind it. It was truly amazing because on top of the recognizable view, there was some wind and we had a sakura petal shower adding extra charm to it. It’s hardly noticeable in the pictures, but I promise that real life was like an anime still, if you keep put until the end of the Japan series, we have a surprise were you might be able to experience this, so please wait for it!
The Seiganto-ji buddhist temple is a UNESCO heritage site dating from the early 5th century. It’s wooden structure is a marvel and we loved the interior as well, and all the stickers glued to its wall. We learnt that they are called Senjafuda, and that the kanji on them is the name of the worshipper. With a quick wikipedia look, we also read that they can be purchased pre-printed with common names at temples and shrines throughout Japan, I guess my name was not available though, *wink. Senjafuda were originally made from wooden slats, you can also see those on the picture above (can you spot them?), but have been made of paper since the Edo period and were (obvs) the majority at sight on this moment.
Once you have left the pagoda, climbing down you are able to approach the waterfall much closer. There’s a short trail, of about 10 minutes tops, that will take you to the temple that is next to the waterfall, which is free to enter. There’s also an additional platform that for 300 yen will get you even nearer the water. The sun was very strong at that time of the day, and since our chances to take a decent portrait next to the waterfall were slim to none, we preferred to save the yens for another experience. Anyways, the views to the waterfall from the temple were good enough for us.
We actually use some small change to pray for good luck at the temple, and witnessed how the mikos (temple maidens or servants) recollected the change, rekindled the fire and added some new incense. All those daily tasks that are usually not mentioned on the blogs, so here’s a recognition to them.
After this visit, we took the bus just in the stop that’s in front of the starting trail point and got back to Kii-Katsuura, from there we took a train to Nagoya (3h 30 minutes) and finally a shinkansen to Tokyo (2h). We slept in Shibuya, in a new (to us) hotel, keep tuned for our last days in my favorite place in the world!