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Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/11/29 01:26
Hi everyone,
We're planning a trip next March/April which appears to be majoring on the Wakayama/Kumano region, and would appreciate your help, please.

Basic plan so far is to spend time in Wakayama town and then to go down the coast via Kainan and Yuasa, stop for a seaside onsen at Shirahama, spend a few days in the Kumano region (Yunomine onsen, possibly Kii Katsura for another seaside onsen, visit the shrines, see the waterfall and do a boat trip on the gorge), and then to visit and stay at Koyasan.

We'll probably have a car once we leave Wakayama, and could either drop it at somewhere like Katsura or Shingu, or could keep the car, drive it up Koyasan and then return it to Wakayama before leaving the region.

If we go up Koyasan without a car, we will look to take the bus from Ryujin Onsen (having stayed there overnight for some more bathing). If we drove up Koyasan, we'd probably still stop at Ryujin Onsen the night before and start our drive from there.

Has anyone done the drive up Koyasan from this direction? Does anyone have any comments? Are there any things we should know about this journey in particular? Is it useful or painful having a car in Koyasan (e.g. parking, driving around the town itself, etc)?

We've driven in Japan a few times, including in some rural and mountainous places, so we're expecting narrow roads, slow speeds, lots of twists and turns, and significantly longer journey times than something like Google Maps might suggest.

We appreciate any help, tips, or suggestions. Thanks very much.
by Winter Visitor  

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/11/29 13:21
I don't know about the drive to Koyasan in particular, but I actually found google maps' estimates to be fairly accurate when I drove around the Kumano area this past May. I was also worried that the roads might be narrow or not well-maintained, but in the end it was a very pleasant area to drive through.

The main route from Ryujin Onsen to Mt. Koya has some wintertime limitations imposed though - from Dec. 15th until next March 25th, all cars going through are required to have chains, and the road is completely closed from 5PM to 7AM. So conditions are likely to be snowy then, and you'll need a rental car with chains plus experience driving in snowy weather. Info here:

Sounds like a great trip overall! I'm a bit jealous.
by Gigi (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/11/29 17:00
I did Wakayama by car in June this year. If you go all the way to Shingu, then I think your route up to Koyasan might be slightly different. Instead of the windy road to Ryujin Onsen, I recommend staying overnight at somewhere near Hongu Taisha like Kawayu Onsen (awesome river onsen experience in open air), then take the road up through Totsukawa village in Nara. Totsukawa is a wonderful rural place with barely any residents, and has some nice spots along the way like an old and long suspension bridge (Tanize). Then you'll have only a short section of windy roads when you go west to enter Koyasan.
by AlexanderStankov rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/11/29 23:17
Thanks a lot, both of you, especially for the tip on an alternative route, Alexander - I will check that out.

Since both of you have done a driving tour in Wakayama, could I ask whether there are any other fantastic places you've found, please?

I'm especially interested in (onsens, and) any hands-on experiences. I've found the really helpful website, and through that (and some shows on NHK World) we're going to aim for the makie lacquerware decorating session near Kainan, and the soy sauce brewery/museum in Yuasa, but would welcome any other suggestions.

Thanks a lot. All further ideas are very welcome.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/11/30 07:59
i have also planned some route (of course with main focus on nice onsen) in this area:
see here:

maybe you find also some spots that interest you...
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/12/1 00:12
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing your route. Will have a good look at it soon. Really appreciate it.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/12/1 01:58
I've just checked out your route. Looks great. Covers a lot of the same places in the Wakayama/Kumano region as we're going to. I see you're also going to Iga Ueno (where we also plan to go on this trip. Us adults have been before, but our daughter hasn't, and I know she'll love the ninjas).

Is your route a round trip from Nagoya? We'll be arriving from Shikoku, so the logical way appears to be to go on the ferry from Tokushima to Wakayama. However, unless we pay one way car hire fees (which may be the best way - I need to price them), it'll mean that we probably do a loop which starts and ends at Wakayama, and then need to get to Iga from there (which will be a bit of a trek on public transport, hence my need to check out one-way car fees).
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/12/1 16:23
no, it is not as round trip, since this time it is made with public transport and not with car and it seemed to be more reasonable to go just one direction. also i indent to visit kobe and some other small onsens in the north and west on after this route (but it didnt put it on the map).

but i think it can be made to a round trip very easily. you could go over ise on your way back. (i have been to ise already two times, so i omitted on purpose this time, but if you havnt you could make a nice de-tour along the east...coast?)

About Iega Ueno: Actually i was already about to remove this from my list, cause a friend of mine was just there, and he said it was very disappointing and not a city worth spending much time. But i know your style from your other travels to Tohoku and if you recommend this place (since you were already there) i still keep it on the route. The more fun ninja are supposed to be at location (4) on this map (Akame 48 Waterfalls).
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/12/1 16:47
Thanks. Re Iga, might be a useful website.
Us two adults have been there before and my thoughts were that it was cool for a day trip. The ninja museum is pretty good (if you like ninjas - which our daughter does, and which is why we're going), and the castle is also pretty good.
That website has told me that there are onsens in Iga too, and it's sort of on the way back to Tokyo (although is a bit of a pain on public transport- but not impossible), so we're going.
There's also an NHK World programme (maybe "Journeys in Japan"? Or maybe "J Trip Plan"?) that also deals with Iga that you might be able to find online, perhaps?
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Driving to Koyasan from the Kumano region 2017/12/1 19:00
thanks for the links. the one contains links to onsen for which i am always grateful :-)

actually i am not so much into ninja, but i was seeing that there is much to see about Matsuo Basho in IGA... so i will keep it on the list.
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

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