1. Japan
  2. The sacred site of Kumano Nachi Taisha et Seigantoji
Written by Sandrine Published on 13/09/16

Nestled in the heart of a beautiful forest on the heights of Nachi, in the prefecture of Wakayama, this sacred place blends Shinto and Buddhist religions. Thus, on this same site, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, the Buddhist temple of Seigantoji (青岸渡寺) and one of the 3 sacred sanctuaries of Kumano, the Kumano Nachi Taisha (熊野那智大社) co-exist.

Seiganto-ji pagoda
Seigantôji temple pagoda

Located on the famous pilgrimage route Kumanodo Kodo, many pilgrims come to gather in this highly symbolic place. But what also makes the charm of the place, it is also the cliché of the famous 3 floors pagoda of the Seiganto-ji which faces the pretty Nachi waterfall which springs from 133 meters in a scenery often foggy.

Nachi waterfall
The Nachi waterfall seen from the platform

From the road, a path has been laid out to allow visitors to approach the waterfall. The start of the race starts in a long hairpin bend where several parking spaces are available, as well as some shops. From here, a fairly wide staircase crosses the old forest and descends to a platform 200 metres further down below. The trail is quite busy because many tourists come to enjoy the place.

The sacred complex is situated a little higher. A road leads there, but it is more interesting to reach it on foot by taking the last part of the Kumano kodo for about 600 meters. The Daimon-zaka trail, a long staircase of 267 steps, leads to the summit, climbing in the heart of a forest of century-old trees, lined with impressive immense cedars. The staircase starts at the last houses in the valley, before the road climbs up into pins. It is advisable to go straight up to the summit and then, when you arrive at the religious complex, it is possible to go down via another path passing by the Nachi waterfall.

Seiganto-ji trail
The staircase is lined with impressive century-old cedars!

If you come by car, it is also possible to park in the parking lot of the Nachi waterfall and climb up through the small staircase, also lined with century-old cedars, but this path is less impressive. Allow 10 minutes for climbing. The road also provides access by car to the summit. A parking lot is available near the temple. The site is also served by public transport. A bus leaves from Kii-Katsura or Nachi railway stations and can drop you off at either the Daimon-zaka trail or the Nachi waterfall. You will have to complete the ascent on foot.

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