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Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/8 03:58
Hello! We were planning to go back to Japan in November 2023, but a great flight price came along and we couldn't resist! So, the plan is to be back to Japan in late January - early February.

As I was planning to do the Kumano Kodo for the first time in November (for the temperatures and the colours), I'd like to know if this is doable also in end of January, early February. Information on the web are not so satisfying.

I'd like to know if there is plenty of snow and ice - usually - in those months, if it is dangerous and I need snow shoes, or if the trail is usually kind of "clean" and safe to be walked with standard hiking boots.

Days are shorter so I expect to cover only a few traits of the camino, but if you have any advise of which one is safer and easier to do in that season, thank you very much!
by cochese  

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/8 09:27
I can tell you that the bus line from Mount Koya to Tanabe completely shuts down in the winter. From that, I expect there will be snow. The tourist information center in Tanabe has a wealth of information about Komano Kodo, including elevation information on the various trails. I would suggest you do some research there.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/8 11:03
Personally, Ifve wanted to attend the winter festival in Sapporo, along with seeing Nikko in the winter. I especially would like to go to the Yunishigawa Snow House festival. There is a special Marugoto Nikko Kinugawa Pass that included the busses to and from this Hot Springs Onsen town. It is one of the different flavors of Nikko World Heritage Passes
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/8 20:42
thanks for your answer! I've visited those places already and I am looking for a bit of winter in Kansai this time, as I've covered main places in Kanto and Tohoku.
by cochese rate this post as useful

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/8 23:36
I donft have time to do a detailed or well-researched post right now (possibly later as I look more into it myself), but I found the following two blog posts in a very quick search. They might be useful if you put them through Google translate or some other tool. (Be prepared for a barrage of ads, and on the second page, a lot of information on gear).

https://kumano-fan.com/winter-kumanokodo-info-4042
https://kumano-fan.com/kumanokodo-wearbagpack-8246

A good point is that it depends on where on the Kumano Kodo you want to go. It sort of looks like you equate Kumano Kodo with the Naka Hechi portion. In fact, the Iseji section is closer to sea level and tends to be warmer (as pointed out on one of the pages). If you get any precipitation there it will likely be rain.

A few months ago I was researching the Magose Pass (Owase area, Mie Prefecture) for a February hike, and saw a lot of Japanese posts on a web site that as I recall was a TripAdvisor forum, and it was clear that many people had wonderful winter hikes on this trail, but over and over again they commented on how slippery the trail is (from wet mossy rocks, not snow and ice). Good footwear is a must, and trekking poles are highly recommended.

Sorry I canft offer more right now. I will just suggest that you might want to look into day hikes on the Iseji as possible options. It will definitely be warmer there. However, it is somewhat of a nuisance to get there, and if you plan a multi-day trip with lodging and get skunked by weather, then there isnft much to do.

You can easily do the Magose Pass hike as a day trip (by train) from Nagoya. I will likely do it from Kyoto myself (with a companion). But unless you are driving, you need to research the transit very carefully, and you should not take any hikes lightly. The Iseji is in an isolated area that sees very few hikers, especially in winter. The trails are not challenging in a mountaineering sense, but you are really on your own, so in a sense the Naka Hechi would be safer, especially if you are hiking alone. For something a little less ambitious, maybe consider the Daimonzaka area, spending a couple of nights in Kii-Katsura at one of the onsen ryokans with great ocean views. Then, if it rains a lot you could at least enjoy the baths and great seafood.

Ifm afraid I didnft have much luck finding detailed information in English. It exists in Japanese, but the hard part is finding suitable pages to run through a translatorc
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/9 17:58
Hwllo Kim, you were very very detailed and useful, thank you! I didn't find anything interesting in English and the information you've given to me are very good!
by cochese rate this post as useful

Re: Kumano Kodo in winter 2022/11/9 21:00
Ifm glad you found it helpful. If you want to find more information, you can try doing an online search on the two terms FÓ and ~ (gKumano Kodoh and gwinterh) to get pages in Japanese that you can then try translating. I have only very limited experience with translation software myself so I canft really advise you there, but the software does seem to be getting better over time.

There might be more information available online in English on this specific topic (i.e., winter hiking) but I havenft found it yet. There is a lot of good English information available on the Kumano Kodo in general, especially on the Nakahechi. (The Tanabe City page is particularly good, although it doesnft have extensive information on the Iseji. But it does have some, including maps.) Presumably youfve already found this resource, but herefs the URL:
https://www.tb-kumano.jp/en/

Japan Guide also has some pages on Kumano Kodo, which I assume you have found.

I hope you have some great hiking, wherever you end up going. Your chances for good weather in January or early February are pretty high. The times Ifve been on the Kii Peninsula so far were by necessity all in June, and it always seemed to rain at least one of the few days I was there. My strategy this time is to hang out in Kyoto for a week and follow the weather forecasts carefully to pick the optimal day for a day trip hike. But you have to time things very carefully to do that, and canft do a very long hike. Getting stuck on the trail after dark would be pretty bad. The option of staying somewhere near a trail gives you more time to hike, but once you book lodging reservations you are kind of locked in to specific dates and are at the mercy of the weather gods. I would not attempt to hike anywhere on the Iseji on a rainy day, especially in the winter. The trails are rocky, slippery, and in some places quite steep, and I think rain would distract you from enjoying the incredible natural beauty. If you are quite intrepid, maybe you could do some hiking on the Nakahechi in the rain. I think Daimonzaka would probably work (there is an extensive network of stone steps on that slope, making it a lot less treacherous when wet). I donft know anything about the rest of the Nakahechi.

If you decide you donft want to make the trip to the Kii Peninsula to hike Kumano Kodo, there are some very pleasant day hikes on a fairly recently developed trail network in the Kyoto area, known as simply gThe Kyoto Trail.h I have only hiked a little of it myself but it seems to have a lot to offer. There is a fair amount of English information available on the web, and gobs of Japanese information. (Donft expect too much help from tourist information centers or hotel concierges, though. The ones I asked were definitely not well-informed about this trail network. Its establishment as an organized network is quite new, although some of the individual segments are definitely not.)

Some years ago I used to love to walk on a fabulous gsecreth back trail at Fushimi Inari Shrine, and it was quite magical (not Kumano Kodo, but still very beautiful, and with a very nice section of mainly bamboo). But like the main venue and primary trails there, it has finally been all but ruined by overtourism. New fences put up, signposts installed, bamboo marred with graffitic The last time I tried it, there was an effing entire tour group on the trail, complete with a leader spouting a constant monologue of information. Fortunately, there are plenty of other wonderful places to go to in Kyoto that havenft been gdiscoveredh yet. The great thing about the famous tourist magnet sites there (and everywhere else in Japan) is that they attract the overwhelming majority of foreign tourists, leaving the rest of the country all but untouched by tourism.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

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