Mountainous Kumano is the holy ground of Japan and pilgrims have been trekking there for centuries. Shrines, mist, forests and waterfalls combine to create an entrancing hike

Normally I am not given to praying but the occasion demands it. After bowing twice and clapping twice, I make a silent entreaty that my trek will go well. My obeisance is taking place in front of a small wooden building, rather like a summerhouse. It is a shrine in the town of Takijiri-oji, a starting point for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails.

Kumano is the traditional name for the southern part of Japan’s Kii peninsula. It contains pilgrimage routes dating back more than a millennium. The first pilgrims were adherents of Shinto who travelled to worship beside the natural wonders of the sacred Kii mountains. Later pilgrims followed an amalgam of Shinto and Buddhism.

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Source: The Guardian

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