新宮観光協会

Kumano, the Dwelling Place of Kami (Gods)

The Kumano Kodo, or the ancient pilgrimage routes to the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine, Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine and Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine), have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2004. The three Grand Shrines are usually called the Kumano Sanzan, and are central to the Kumano faith.
Kamikura-Jinja Shrine in Shingu is sacred because it is said to be where the gods first descended to earth. But at some point in history, people began worshiping the gods of Kumano at the Kumano Sanzan, so Kamikura-Jinja Shrine is called the original Grand Shrine, while Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine is known as Niimiya, the new Grand Shrine. Another way to read the characters for Niimiya is Shingu; it is said that this is the origin of the town's name.
The Kumano Sanzan are closely connected, with each worshipping both its own deities and the deities of the other two shrines.

World Heritage
熊野速玉大社
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine

熊野速玉大社

The vermillion lacquered Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine lies along the Kumano-gawa River. The shrine's main deities are Kumano Hayatama no Ohkami and Kumano Fusumi no Ohkami, who are husband and wife, but twelve other gods are also worshipped. Kumano Hayatama no Ohkami is believed to be the deification of flowing water, and also represents Shingu, which is situated at the mouth of the Kumano-gawa River.
On the grounds of Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine is a grand Asian Bayberry that was planted by Taira no Shigemori and is designated as a natural monument. There is also the Kumano Sacred Treasure Museum, where more than 1000 nationally appointed cultural properties are on display, including hiougi, handheld fans made of cypress.

熊野速玉大社のナギの木 田上修「神の光」 A thousand years old Nagi tree is a symbol of the god of Kumano.

World Heritage
熊野本宮大社
Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine

熊野本宮大社

After walking a few hundred kilometers from Kyoto on the Kumano Mode (the Kumano Pilgrimage), the first shrine pilgrims would reach was Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine.
The shrine, which is roofed with cypress bark (hiwadabuki), is sure to impress visitors, but also conveys a gentle warmth. A poet of the 12th-13th centuries wrote about how he was moved to tears when he visited it.
The shrine was moved to its current location in the 19th century. It was originally on Oyunohara, an island where Kumano-gawa River converges with two other rivers. A torii gate on the island is 34 meters tall, making it the tallest in Japan.

大斎原大鳥居 Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine was in Nakasu called Oyunohara at the confluence of the Kumano-gawa River, Otonashi-gawa River and Iwata-gawa River.
和歌山県世界遺産センター

Wakayama World Heritage Center

The “Wakayama Prefecture World Heritage Center,” aiming at conservation and information dissemination of Kumano Kodo, is located in Kumano Hongu Heritage Center near Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine.

Wakayama World Heritage Center website

World Heritage
熊野那智大社
Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine

熊野那智大社

The Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine is reached by walking up the Daimon-zaka Slope trail, through a forest of centuries-old cedars fragrant with the trees' scent. At the top of the trail, another 473 stone steps lead to the gates of the shrine. A splendid view opens up upon reaching the plaza in front of the shrine. Next to it is the main hall of Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple, from which one can see Nachi Falls, one of Japan’s top three waterfalls.

那智大滝と三重塔 Three-Storied Pagoda and the Nachi Falls, one of three famous waterfalls in Japan which has 133m in height and 13m in width

World Heritage
那智山青岸渡寺
Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple

那智山青岸渡寺

The Kansai area, which includes Shingu, has a pilgrimage of 33 Buddhist temples, called the Kansai 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple is the first stop on the pilgrimage, and many pilgrims still visit and pray there today. The main hall was rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590, and its unique architecture is representative of that era. Behind the main hall is a vermillion three-storied pagoda, and behind and to the side of the pagoda is Nachi Falls. The pagoda and the waterfall together make for a stunning view, and many people come to take photographs.