This is part of the World Heritage pilgrimage route from Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine to Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine. After paying respects at Hama-oji, one of the Kumano Kujuku-Oji (a branch shrine along the pilgrimage), and walking along Ojigahama Coast with the beautiful view of the Kumano-nada Sea by your side, you'll reach the entrance of Koya-zaka Slope. With mossed cobblestones and the ocean that occasionally shows between the trees, this is the perfect sightseeing route if you only have time for a short trip but still want to experience the wonders of the Kumano Kodo trail.
Refer to the Koyazaka course map at the Tourism Association. This course can also be done in reverse order! (Miwasaki-Shingu)
Take a bus from Shingu Sta. and hop off at the Hirotsuno (Koyazaka) stop. Walk along the narrow road until you reach the entrance, marked by the toilets and Koyazaka signs.
The train tracks run just in front of the climb, and the expansive Ojigahama Coast lies just beyond that. Walk along the well-maintained boardwalk and head off into the mountains.
Pictured: Jizo-sama along Koyazaka trail
After walking approximately 15 minutes from the starting point, the tree line breaks a little letting you see the beautiful scenery of the Ojigahama Coast. On the mountain side, you can see three stone jizo statues built in the middle of the Edo period - these are small deities which protect travelers and children.
Pictured: Viewpoint for Ojigahama Coast
Pass by this small Jizo statue that welcomes visitors to the Kumano area, located in the middle of Koya-zaka Slope. As you go further into the forest, there is also the 'Kujira Yamami-ato' (whale viewing ruins) where the Gorin-to (or Buddhist five-ringed tower) had been built.
Pictured: Magohachi Jizo
"Life with Whales" is registered as a part of Japan's Cultural Heritage. The Kujira Yamami-ato (or whale watching ruins) allows you to get a feel for the history of whaling culture in Shingu. There are three of these sites along the Koya-zaka Slope walk, one of which has an observation platform.
These viewing areas were utilised in the past by whalers to communicate the locations of whales but now you can use them to enjoy the gorgeous view of the Kumano-nada Sea.
Pictured: view of the Kumano-nada Sea
Towards the end of Koya-zaka Slope, after passing the stone landmark called "Benkei no Chikara-Ishi" (or Benkei's power stone), you'll arrive at a beautiful downhill slope covered with moss. After reaching this place, the finish line will appear soon after.
Upon reaching the wooden sign at the crossroads, turn right (don't pass over the train tracks) and continue on your way.
Pictured: Koyazaka's mossy pavements
You'll finish the Koya-zaka Slope walk at the Miwasaki entrance area, which is easy to identify by the peaceful landscape through which a small river flows.
It is about 5 minutes on foot from here to Miwasaki Station, and when you leave the mountain path towards the port you can see the scenic spot, Suzushima Island, only a short distance away.
Feel free to take a bus or train to Shingu or your next destination from here.