What to Expect
"The sacred sites and the pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range, including Kumano Kodo," is designated as a World Cultural Heritage site in 2004. Kumano Kodo, the ancient path, is a generic term of pilgrimage routes leading to "Kumano Sanzan," or the three main shrines of "Kumano Nachi Taisha," "Kumano Hayatama Taisha" and "Kumano Hongu Taisha." People from all levels of society including retired emperors and aristocrats came to pray for the marvels of nature in the Kumano sanctuary from Kyoto and Osaka, and it was described as "ant processions." There are over 3,000 Kumano Shrines across the country and the Kumano Sanzan is foremost among these shrines.
First I would like to take you to Nachi Waterfall (Nachi-no-Otaki). The waterfall is the greatest waterfall with a height of 133 meters, a width of 13 meters, and a depth of 10 meters in the water basin. Kumano represents a place deep in the mountain ranges and has been believed as abode of gods, especially Nachi Waterfall as the sacred body of the deity has been respected and worshipped.
Kumano Nachi Taisha is covered with a thick wooded mountain. It is Nachi Primeval Forest, and all the mountain is designated as a national treasure with a plenty of rare trees and plants.
Seigantoji, located next to Kumano Nachi Taisha, is the first temple of Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. The main hall is built in the hip gable roof style and faces south and east. The view of three-story pagoda and Nachi Waterfall from the foot of the temple is a must-see.
Kmano Hayatama Taisha has the greatest podocarpus nagi which is 20 meters high and 1,000 years old. The original shrine of Kumano Hayatama Taisha is Kamikura Shrine which is located nearly 100 meters up a precipitous cliff of the Gongenyama mountains.
Four deities are enshrined at Kami-yon-sha in Kumano Hongu Taisha while Naka-yon-sha and shimo-yon-sha have been still enshrined together at the small stone shrine in Oyunohara, where the greatest shrine gate with a height of 34 meters and a width of 42 meters stands. Three-legged crow called "Yatagarasu", the symbol mark of Japan Football Association, is printed on the flag in front of the main shrine and is carved on the top of the Oyunohara shrine gate. The crow is believed to be the divine messenger of Kumano.