The deep mountain course

Local food, Mountain roads, Spiritual, Onsen


Start off in the beach resort of Shirahama and head deep into the Kii Mountain Range. Fuel up on fresh local produce at rest stops along the way and ride past some of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route's key landmarks. Relax after a hard day in the saddle at the natural hot spring resort of Kawayu Onsen.

Mountain roads

Take a ride deep into the mountains

Wakayama's mountain roads snake through the Kii Mountain Range, often running parallel with the ancient Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route.

Local food

Fuel up on local fare

The hotels at either end of the course—and the rest stops along the way—serve local food that's very fresh and seasonal.


Visit ancient spots of deep spiritual significance

The spiritual highlights of the course include a trip to one of the Kumano grand shrines—Hongu Taisha—and the original site of the shrine at Oyunohara.

Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine


A deep soak after a day in the saddle

Begin your trip by relaxing in an ocean-view hot spring in Shirahama, followed by a well-deserved dip in the mountain onsen resort of Kawayu at the end of your ride.

Kawayu Onsen

Useful Information

JAL Japan Explorer Pass

Fly to Nanki-Shirahama airport to begin your exploration of Wakayama. Japan Airlines offers affordable domestic fares with the JAL Japan Explorer Pass. The easy-to-use English website makes booking flights very easy.

Nanki-Shirahama Airport

There are three direct flights a day from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Wakayama’s Nanki-Shirahama Airport. Booking flights is easy and flying into the area is a time-efficient and cost-effective option.

Access the Shirahama area from Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, or Tennoji on the Limited Express Kuroshio. The express train hugs the Wakayama west coast and takes around two and a half hours from Shin-Osaka. Regular flights depart from Tokyo's major airports to Nanki-Shirahama Airport, and a highway bus to the area leaves from various points in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Tips: Travelling with a bicycle is possible, although you will have to remove the front wheel and fit the whole bicycle into a bicycle bag. If traveling by train, reserve a seat at the front or back of a train carriage as there is generally more room in front or behind for storage.

There are a number of accommodation options in Shirahama from traditional ryokan hotels to luxury lodgings overlooking the ocean. Most hotels have hot spring onsen facilities and restaurants that serve local and seasonal fare. Relax and fill up on good food before you embark on the cycling course the next day.

Tips: If you are planning a trip in early May, mid-August or around the new year period, be sure to book well in advance as these are national holiday periods in Japan and hotels and transportation get booked very quickly.

1 JR Shirahama Station

Centrally located Shirahama Station is around five kilometers away from the coast where many of the hotels are located. Routes to the station are well signposted. You will continue your ride into the mountainous heartland of the prefecture from here. Follow the main highway road—the Kyu Kokudo 311—that generally runs parallel with the Tonda River.

6 km ~

2 F-no-katte Café

Stop for some coffee, an energy boosting ginger syrup chai tea or a hearty soup lunch at this café on the edge of Hikogoro Park. The menu is highly dependent upon what vegetables are available at the local farmers market. Café opens at 10:00 and lunch is served from 11:00.

14 km ~

3 Kumano Kodo Kan

The route begins to climb uphill towards the Kumano Kodo Kan—a facility that showcases the World Heritage sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the area. A good place to stop off for a short rest, browse the small exhibition and use the restroom facilities.

12 km ~

4 Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Michi-no-Eki (Roadside rest stop)

A stretch of generally flat road leads to another hilly climb as you make your way towards the Kumano Kodo Nakahechi Michi-no-Eki—a roadside rest stop on the Kyu Kokudo 311 highway with a store selling souvenirs, snacks and drinks. There are toilet facilities available.

2 km ~

5 Kodo Aruki-no-Sato Chikatsuyu

Stop off for lunch at this rest stop facility with a restaurant serving an impressive range of local fare. Visit the information center to learn a little more about the local area, and the grocery store to stock up on supplies for the rest of the ride.

6 Kyu Kokudo 311

The Kyu Kokudo 311 highway stretches across Wakayama Prefecture from the Shirahama area in the west to the Kumano area on the east coast. The well-kept road snakes through the Kii Mountain Range linking up with some of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route landmarks.

7 Nonaka-no-Shimizu Spring

A steady climb along the 311 will bring you to Nonaka-no-Shimizu Spring. Park your bicycle briefly and gulp down some of the pure mountain water bubbling up from the spiritual ground. If you are making good time, pay a visit to nearby shrine grove of Tsugizakura-oji with its towering cedar trees.

5 km ~

8 Kobiro-toge

The road then rises and falls as you ride towards the Kobiro-toge mountain pass—a section of the pilgrimage route that follows the old highway. The cobbled pathway and stone steps are unsuitable for bicycles, but the 311 runs alongside the route.

18 km ~

9 Hongu Taisha & Oyunohara

One of the longest stretches of the course takes you downhill towards the Shingu River and to two of the most important landmarks on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route—the Grand Shrine of Hongu Taisha and Oyunohara, the original site of the shrine.

50 km ~

10 Chinchoan

Stop off for some traditional refreshment at Chinchoan, a shop famous for its Mode Mochi—sticky rice cakes filled with red bean paste. Raise a cup of green tea to celebrate the fact you are on the last leg of your journey.

50 km ~

11 Kawayu Onsen

Follow the river south and back onto the 311 for your final ride of the day to Kawayu Onsen. Look forward to a soak in the natural hot springs in outdoor rock pools and enjoy the hospitality of cyclist friendly hotels Midoriya and Fujiya.

Kitayama Course

Gorge, Rafting, Mountain Roads, Onsen, Flowers

Explore local Wakayama course

Local food, Coast, Spiritual, Stone Staircases, Flowers

The highlights of Shirahama course

Natural monuments, Wildlife Park, Food, Sunset

The south coast course

Ocean, River, Natural monuments, Michi-no-Eki (rest stop stations), Flowers