[Sightseeing in Wakayama] A trip from Koyasan to Kumano Hongu Taisha by Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus – Part 1

Koyasan, the head temple of Shingo Esoteric Buddhism, and Kumano Sanzan (the three grand shrines of Kumano) where the gods of nature reside, are two major sanctuaries that have long been worshiped by people.

The two sacred places are conveniently connected by the World Heritage Sites Connecting Bus “Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus”, which makes a pilgrimage tour possible in just one day. I took a ride on the bus not long ago, let me share with you my itinerary, the surroundings of Kumano Hongu Taisha, and the bus itself in the article. This article has been split into 2 parts, please check it out.

What is Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus?

 

Koyasan and Kumano, representing one of the most spiritual and sacred places in the world, are destinations where people would like to visit once in their lifetime. Taking a hike along the Kumano Kodo trails is also what people long for, however, it is not as easy as you think. The Kohechi route linking Koyasan and Kumano Hongu Taisha alone spans over 70km and there are three mountain passes with over 1000 meters in elevation. Considering limited physical ability and time, isn’t it a difficult task to achieve?

Hiking between Koyasan and Kumano might take 4-5 days. But with the Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus, you will be able to visit the two places in just 4.5 hours.

Fares

Fares of the Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus are as follows:

Koyasan Station Departure Departure
Kirari Ryujin / Ryujin Onsen Arrival
2,900yen(Child 1,450yen)
Departure
Hongu Taish-mae Arrival
2,500yen(Child 1,250yen)
Arrival
5,000yen(Child 2,500yen)

It costs you 5000yen if you go from Koyasan to Kumano Hongu Taisha in one day. If you prefer a more relaxing trip, I recommend spending a night at Ryujin Onsen. Ryujin Onsen is also called Bijin-no-yu, which means “Beautiful Women Hot Spring” literally. It is believed that the smooth and silky waters make your skin beautiful.

Advanced reservation is required for the Koyasan and Kumano Access Bus. Reservation can be made through Japan Bus Online. Let’s check it out the details at the link below.

>>Japan Bus Online

>>Official website of Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus

Let’s start my pilgrimage trip (Part 1)

First, let me share with you the bus route and some travelling tips as below.

Bus Route

Senjuinbashi (higashi)Gomadanzan(transfer)Kirari Ryujin(Lunch break)→(※)Kumano Hongu Taisha
※The route after Kumano Hongu Taisha will be shared in Part 2.

Travel Tips

・Make good use of the break time
・Show the bus tickets and receive some discount coupons

Let’s kick off my pilgrimage tour at Senjuinbashi (higashi)!

9:55 Boarded the Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus at Senjuinbashi (higashi)

The Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus has a first departure at Koyasan Station. However, as I stayed at a hotel in Koyasan the night before, I boarded the bus at Senjuinbashi (higashi). The bus stop was just next to the fire station.

【A side note】

The bus stop poles of Senjuinbashi (higashi) and Okunoinmae are green in color, and they are where the Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus will make a stop. Compared with Senjuinbashi (nishi) which is not a bus stop of the Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus, the pole color is different. If you are still confused, just remember the green pole as a symbol.

I wandered around while waiting for the bus. There were toilet, vending machines and post office nearby. You could also withdraw money from the ATM if you use the Japan Post Bank.

I found a spot which might be convenient to you. It was the Koyasan Shokubo Association – Tourist Information Center, which was located about 1-min walk from the bus stop.

You could get some pamphlets, do some research or get some news update inside the information center.  If you have not done a proper research on Kumano before your trip, do not worry as you could get all kinds of information there. Free wifi access was also available inside the center. As there was no shelter in the bus stop, I was told by the staff that everyone is welcome to use the center even in rainy days. The staff were nice.

◎Basic information “Koyasan Shokubo Association – Tourist Information Center”

Office hour   8:30~17:00
Address           600 Koyasan Koya-cho, Ito-gun, Wakayama
Tel    0736-56-2616
Homepage Click here for details

In the meantime, the bus arrived. I boarded the bus by showing the ticket, and picked a seat wherever I liked.

This was how the bus looked like inside. There were 4 seats in a row, and overhead racks for storing carry-on luggage.

Shortly after departure, the bus passed through the Koya-Ryujin Skyline Road where you could enjoy a panoramic view of mountainous terrains. I was fascinated by the stunning natural scenery.

10:50 Took a rest at Gomadanzan and got a bus transfer

After about an hour ride, the bus arrived at Gomadanzan. At Gomadanzan, I took a 15-min rest and transferred to another bus (※). In the parking area, there were toilets, vending machines, observatory tower and even a roadside station. I was able to go toilet and have a quick look at the shops during the break.

※ For reason of changing to another operating bus company.

Shopped for sweets and souvenirs at “Tanabe-shi Ryujin Gomasan Skytower” Roadside Station

Inside the shop, there were plenty of locally produced handmade sweets, preserved food, snacks of different favors. All of them looked delicious, but it was a pity that I was still filled up by the breakfast.  

Souvenirs were in special designs that rarely found elsewhere. The products made by local craftsmen living in Ryujin Village and Wakayama Prefecture particularly appealed me. After returned to the bus, I started feeling regret that I should have bought something as souvenir.

【A side note】

By showing the bus ticket of Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus, you will be able to get a 50yen coupon on a charcoal coffee at takeaway. The coffee is brewed with natural water from the source of Hidaka River. If you are a coffeeholic, do not miss this chance to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

◎Basic information “Tanabe-shi Ryujin Gomasan Skytower” Roadside Station

Operating Hour Shops
Weekdays 9:30~16:00
Weekends & Holiday 9:00~16:00
Restaurant
10:00~14:00
Observatory tower
Weekdays 9:30~15:50
Weekends & Holiday 9:00~15:50
Address 1020-6 Ryujin, Ryujinmura, Tanabi-shi, Wakayama
Tel 0739-79-0622
Homepage Click here for details

11:05 From Gomadanzan to Kirari Ryujin

I transferred to another bus and the bus departed on time.

The seating arrangement of this bus was different from the previous one. There were seats which allow tie-downs with wheelchairs or baby strollers. However, as it did not have a trunk, you might need to take the luggage with you on board.

After riding for about 35 minutes, the bus arrived at Kirari Ryujin and we were going to have a 40-min lunch break.

Lunch at Kirari Ryujin

Kirari Ryujin was an accommodation located in Ryujin Onsen. It was famous for its lobby where a lot of cypress were being used, its onsen water with source from Ryujin Onsen, as well as its home-made dishes made with local ingredients. Kirari Ryujjin welcomed visitors of all types, no matter if you come for an onsen bath on a day use or for a lunch only. Its menu included popular local dishes like Kumano beef croquette set meal and pork cutlet with curry.

If you are not feeling hungry, let’s have a relaxing time at the spacious lobby by having a cup of tea.

The weather was mild today and I took a seat on the terrace for a rest. I had my ice cream while listening to the babbling of river and chirping of small birds. It was such an amazing time.

From here to Kumano Hongu Taisha, it took about 2 hrs. Please do not forget to buy some drinks or snacks at the shop if you want some.

【A side note】

By showing the bus ticket of Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus, you will be able to get 150yen off on the admission fee of onsen bath for day use.  Let’s not miss the chance to enjoy a soak at “Beautiful Women Hot Spring”.

◎Basic information “Kirari Ryujin”

Operating hour Restaurant(Lunch)
11:30~13:30
Day use bath
11:00~15:00
Address 189 Ryujin, Ryujinmura, Tanabe-shi, Wakayama
Tel 0739-79-0331
Homepage Click here for details

Pilgrimage bus trip (Part 2)

How was it? In the first part, I did not cover anything on the sacred places, but I am sure you can feel the fun of riding a bus. In my opinion, thanks to the short break along the way, I did not get any motion sickness even on the rugged mountain roads. If you are easy to get a car sickness, do not worry because the bus drivers are experienced in driving the mountain roads.

In the coming article, we are about to arrive at Kumano Hongu Taisha. There are so much to see and share with you in the forthcoming. Stay tuned.

>>Official website of Koyasan & Kumano Access Bus

If you want to make a reservation for an expressway bus,
Please go to “Japan Bus Online”.

The information in this article is current at the time of writing.
It may differ from the latest information.    

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