If you are looking to explore the natural beauty of Japan, the Kumano Kodo should be a must-do on your itinerary. In this article, we will break down the expenses associated with hiking the Nakahechi route of the Kumano Kodo – including transportation, accommodation, meals, and any additional fees or expenses you might incur along the way. Whether you are travelling on a budget or seeking a more luxurious experience, we’ve got you covered.
Sign up to receive our email newsletter full of actionable tips and practical advice every month
First things first: Key cost determinants for your Kumano Kodo hike
Everyone travels differently – what some consider luxury is absolutely essential for someone else. That said, how much your Kumano Kodo adventure will cost you will always depend on the following:
- Whether you organise the hike yourself or join an organised tour;
- How many days do you plan to hike;
- What accommodation you choose;
- Whether you buy a meal plan every day or self-cater (for parts of the hike or overall);
- How fast (and comfortable) do you want to travel to/from the Kumano Kodo; and
- If you carry your own luggage or get someone else to transport it for you.
We’ll talk about each in a bit more detail below.
Please note: While all prices stated in this article are actuals (either quoted or paid), prices do change over time. Please do your own research at the time of your travels.
Hiking the Kumano Kodo: DIY or Organised Tour?
Pros/Cons of an Organised Tour
We organised our Kumano Kodo experience (almost) completely by ourselves. But there are also organised (self-)guided tours you can join. And doing so definitely has advantages:
- You save time researching and organising your itinerary – a lifesaver when you’re busy.
- Tour operators have local knowledge and speak the language – a great asset given your accommodation hosts tend to only speak Japanese.
- Tour operators provide 24/7 support on the ground – which means if something goes wrong it can be fixed quickly.
On the flip side:
- Organised Kumano Kodo hiking tours are more expensive (as is accommodation organised via Kumano Travel [Official website]) – after all, they got to pay for their own overheads;
- An organised tour may include stuff you don’t want or need; and
- Half the fun of preparing for a trip is the research and the organisation (at least for us).
Typical Tour Group Costs
Walking tour specialist RAW Travel’s self-guided Kumano Kodo itineraries range from AUD2,190 per person (approximately JPY210,000) for a 6 day/5 night Nakahechi program to AUD4,355 (around JPY420,000) for a 12 day/11 night program comprising the full Nakahechi and Kohechi hikes (including two nights at a Buddhist Temple in Koyasan – which is not cheap, but we highly recommend it).
Based on above, an organised Kumano Kodo hiking tour could cost you anywhere between JPY29,000 and JPY42,000 per person per night (including accommodation, most meals and daily luggage transfers).
For comparison, our six-day Kumano Kodo adventure cost us in total JPY85,815 (an average of around JPY7,150 per person per night):
- This included
- The above does not include the train to Kii-Tanabe Station [Google Maps location] or from Kii-Katsuura Station [Google Maps location].
How much to budget for accommodation on the Kumano Kodo?
- If you’re after a bit more luxury (and don’t mind paying more), stay in a Ryokan.
- If you travel on a budget but are still keen to experience the warm hospitality of a family-run guesthouse, choose a Minshuku.
Excluding the meal plan in Koguchi, our 6-night Kumano Kodo accommodation cost us JPY45,950 in total, averaging around JPY7,660 per room per night. Only our accommodation in Asso required payment in cash – all others accepted card payments (in advance or on-site).
|Accommodation||Location||Booking Link||What we got||Cost per room per night (JPY)|
|Guest Cafe Kuchikumano||Asso||Booking.com||Two adjoining rooms with a single futon each; Shared bathroom and toilet; Shared kitchen||4,500|
|Minshuku Nakano||Chikatsuyu||Kumano Travel||Twin room with two single futons; Shared bathrooms and toilets (separated by gender); Shared kitchen and lounge area||9,800|
|J-Hoppers Kumano - We stayed here for two nights||Yunomine||Booking.com||Twin room with two single futons; Shared toilets; Private Onsens (two indoor, one outdoor); Shared kitchen and lounge area; Rice for dinner and rice porridge for breakfast||7,625|
|Koguchi shizen-no-ie||Koguchi||Kumano Travel||(Huge) Twin room with two single futons; Shared toilets (separated by gender); Public Onsens (separated by gender); |
Meal plan: Dinner, breakfast and bento box lunch (JPY9,000)
|Oyado Hana||Kii-Katsuura||Agoda||(Tiny) Twin room with two single futons; Shared toilets; Private Onsen (indoor)||6,600|
What to budget for food and beverages on the Kumano Kodo?
Researching our route in advance, we knew
- which accommodation offered the opportunity to self-cater and which offered a meal plan, and
- where the shops and local restaurants were along the route – there aren’t many, so you do need to plan accordingly.
|Name||Location||Meals||Payment Method||Cost per couple (JPY)||Comments|
|Gyomu Super Asso-ekimae Supermarket||Asso||Dinner (Day 0); Breakfast, lunch, snacks (Day 1)||Credit Card||1,476|
|Coffee Keyaki Cafe||Takahara||Morning tea (Day 1)||Cash||970||Great mid-hike stop with home-made pastries, nice coffee and amazing views|
|Tororoya Restaurant||Chikatsuyu||Dinner (Day 1)||Credit Card||3,180||Delicious set dinner|
|A Coop Supermarket||Chikatsuyu||Breakfast, lunch (Day 2)||Credit Card||1,047|
|V Shop Yunomine||Yunomine||Snacks, dinner (Days 2/3)||Cash||2,660|
|Miyazushi Hongu Restaurant||Hongū||Lunch (Day 3)||Cash||2,000||Delicious set lunch|
|Yamazaki Y Shop Shimoji||Ukegawa||Lunch, snacks (Day 4)||Cash||1,202|
|Koguchi shizen-no-ie||Koguchi||Snacks (Day 5)||Cash||700||Dinner (Day 4) and breakfast/ lunch box (Day 5) were provided by our accommodation (JPY9,000)|
|Nachi Kurotei Mimuro Shop||Nachisan||Ice cream (Day 5)||Cash||600|
|Nachi Kurotei Mimuro Shop||Kii-Katsuura||Dinner (Day 5)||Cash||3,795||Delicious a la carte dinner|
|Olive Cafe||Kii-Katsuura||Breakfast (Day 6)||Cash||1,000||Set breakfast|
Our main staples on the hike were rice balls (onigiri – the best invention ever), pastries (especially melon pan), biscuits, muesli bars, apples and bananas. Our day 3 lunch was supplemented by eggs and sweet potatoes – freshly boiled in the hot spring – that a lovely Japanese family gave us while we were waiting for the bus in Yunomine.
Whenever we did eat out, we tried to get the set menu, which was always substantial and cost (significantly) less than ordering a la carte. That said, we found food in Japan – whether at the supermarket, convenience store or restaurant – generally way more affordable than in Australia or New Zealand.
Including the meal plan in Koguchi, we spent around JPY27,630 in total on food and beverages during our Kumano Kodo hike, averaging around JPY2,300 per person per night.
How much to budget for transportation to/from/along the Kumano Kodo?
Train ticket costs
The JR Kuroshio Limited Express train from Shin-Osaka to Kii-Tanabe costs JPY6,010pp, and JPY7,660pp from Kii-Katsuura to Shin-Osaka (reserved seat in both cases as seat reservation for the train is mandatory). Tickets for the JR trains can be bought at the ticket machines at the train stations. Do bring enough cash though as the machines do not accept foreign credit/debit cards.
The cost for local buses between Kii-Tanabe/Kii-Katsuura/Shingū and the Kumano Sanzan are as follows (per person):
- JPY630 (Kii-Katsuura to/from Kumano Nachi Taisha)
- JPY1,560 (Shingū to/from Kumano Hongū Taisha)
- JPY2,100 (Kii-Tanabe to/from Kumano Hongū Taisha).
Kumano Hayatama Taisha is in walking distance from Shingū train station (~1.5 kilometres/15 minutes), but if you wanted to save your energy, the super-short bus ride would cost you JPY200.
Other typical bus route costs along the Nakahechi are (per person):
- Kii-Tanabe to Takijiri JPY970
- Kii-Tanabe to Hosshinmon-oji JPY2,340-2,570
- Chikatsuyu-oji to Doyukawa-bashi JPY420
- Yunomine Onsen to Doyukawa-bashi JPY670
- Yunomine Onsen to Hosshinmon-oji JPY530-800
- Yunomine Onsen to Kumano Hongū Taisha JPY310
- Yunomine Onsen to Ukegawa JPY340.
Bus rides can only be paid for in cash. Pick a ticket from the dispenser as you enter the bus and pay the fare based on your ticket number (as per the display above the bus driver) when you get off. If you don’t have the correct amount, there is a change machine next to the bus driver. Change first and then pay the correct amount.
We averaged JPY3,580 per person for seven bus rides over six days, averaging ~JPY600 per person per night.
What does luggage storage and/or forwarding cost on the Kumano Kodo?
You can hike the Kumano Kodo – Nakahechi Route point-to-point (changing your accommodation each night) or base yourself in a central location, and take buses to/from the starting/end points of each stage. If you base yourself in one location, you can leave your luggage at your accommodation and hike with a day pack.
If you hike point-to-point, you’d want to reduce the amount you carry to the absolute minimum (whilst still having enough gear, food and water to hike safely). That’s where luggage storage and/or luggage forwarding can come in handy:
- Luggage storage: While coin lockers are almost everywhere in Japan, we do not recommend storing your luggage there (it’s way too costly, and they do have a time limit). Instead, if you want to store excess luggage, look for a storage operator, like Daikoku near Shin-Imamiya Station in Osaka. A medium-sized bag cost us JPY80 per day.
- Luggage forwarding: If you prefer to carry a daypack with food and water but would like to have your main luggage available at your accommodation each night, same-day luggage forwarding is available along the Nakahechi route. The best is to ask your accommodations (or Kumano Travel) to organise this for you. We paid JPY2,500 for one 45-litre travel pack from Koguchi to Kii-Katsuura (organised through our accommodation in Koguchi on the evening of our arrival).
What other expenses to expect on the Kumano Kodo?
Given you are paying your respects at Shinto shrines (and Buddhist Temples), consider some cash for donations.
How much cash to bring when hiking the Kumano Kodo?
Cash is still King in Japan, especially in rural areas. So what percentage of your budget will be cash (vs credit/debit card)?
We prefer to pay with a credit card, as it means we get interbank exchange rates (our card providers don’t charge foreign transaction fees), and we have a better record of our spending.
How much did it cost you to hike the Kumano Kodo?
Please send us details of your budget/costs (together with the route you did and time you travelled) – we’d love to reference them in our article. And if you have any questions we haven’t answered please contact us too.