Long ago, the Japanese believed that their gods lived in the Kii Mountain Range, which is right on Japan’s coast of the Pacific Ocean. This led to the worship of gods and nature within these mountains, and pilgrimage routes were developed.
There are three sacred sites in this mountain range, which are the Yoshino and Omine, the Koyasan, and the Kumano Sanzan, with the pilgrimage route between these sites known as the Kumano Kodo. Each site is home to ancient shrines, some going back to the 9th century.
These mountains have been preserved for over 1,200 years due to the belief of the area being sacred.
Yoshino and Omine
The Yoshino and Omine is a sacred site that was built for a combination of faiths. Tantric Buddhists, Taoists, and those who worshipped Japan would make the journey to this solitary site in the Kii Mountain Range. Built in a beautiful area, there is an abundance of mountain cherry blossoms all around.
The Kumano Sanzan consists of three shrines, which are the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, and the Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine. Visitors can reach all three within a day by vehicle. Nearby, there is the huge Nachi Waterfalls, one of the tallest in the country.
Koyasan is a city that is focused on religion and sits on top of the mountains. Over 100 temples were built, including one that was made by the monk who founded the Shingon Buddhist School, back in 816. Many of these temples are open for visitors to stay in overnight, allowing an authentic experience of Japanese culture unlike anywhere else.
Anyone can participate in eating with the monks, copying the sutra, and in the religious services that the monks have.
The Kumano Kodo, the pilgrimage route, connects all three of these sites. This route winds up, down, and through the Kii Mountain Range, which can be a difficult journey for many, but the experience of the beauty around is worth it.
Those who undertake this journey will be witness to natural wonders that are hidden within the mountains, including waterfalls, ancient trees, rivers, hot springs, and other beautiful sceneries.
2 sites in this World Heritage
- Mount Yoshino
- Pilgrimage Routes (Kumano Kodo)