Japan 2015: Half a Dual Pilgrim

Whilst walking the Kumano Kodo I discovered a number of things. One was that I really like hiking, the other was the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St James. The Kumano Kodo and the Camino de Santiago are the only two pilgrimage routes in the world to be registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and to celebrate this and the journeys of those who have walked these paths, there is a Dual Pilgrim programme.

Dual Pilgrim Passport

Dual Pilgrim Passport

When I received my orientation before I began the Kumano Kodo I also received this Dual Pilgrim passport pictured above. As I walked along the Kumano Kodo I stopped wherever I found a stamp and stamped my passport.

Stamps at Haraido-oji

Stamp at Haraido-oji

I collected eleven, accidentally missing the one at Kumano Hayatama Taisha (much to my annoyance when I realised later). However, one of the eleven was what I like to think of as a bonus stamp, as I realised I could get a stamp when I was in Mount Koya, too.

Kumano Kodo stamps

Kumano Kodo stamps

Kumano Hongu Taisha is the main shrine, so when you reach there you have to stamp twice. That’s the one in the middle, showing I have completed the pilgrimage.

Kumano Hongu Taisha

Kumano Hongu Taisha

To receive the Dual Pilgrim status, pilgrims must complete one of the options for the Way of St. James, and one of the options for the Kumano Kodo, then register at a designated site.

Way of St. James Options
– at least the last 100 km on foot or by horse, or
– at least the last 200 km by bicycle

Kumano Kodo Options
– Takijiri-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~38 km) or
– Kumano Nachi Taisha to/from Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~30 km) or
– Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~7 km) plus a visit to Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha or
– Koyasan to Kumano Hongu Taisha on foot (~70 km)

I have walked from Hosshinmon-oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha and have visited Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha, but as I didn’t get the stamp at Kumano Hayatama Taisha I might just have to go back there someday and visit again.

As for the Way of St James… well that’s been earmarked for a future holiday! This year’s holiday is already booked, but perhaps a year or two after I can find my way to Spain to walk the last 100km. Perhaps I can even find a horse! 😉

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