The focus of the Kumano pilgrimage is to worship at the three Grand Shrines of Kumano. My pilgrimage came to an end at Kumano Hongu Taisha, but it was not the end of my journey. I continued on to Osaka, Kobe and Tokyo, but that's another story....
My journey through Japan started in Kyoto. While at a cooking class in the home of a woman named Emi, I learned of an ancient pilgrimage route called the Kumano Kodo.
Sanjusangendo is a temple in eastern Kyoto which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple was founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later after the original structure had been destroyed in a fire. At 120 meters, it is the longest wooden structure in Japan.
For over a thousand years, the route took pilgrims to Kumano, traversing the mountainous Kii peninsula.
Tōdai-ji (Eastern Great Temple), located in the city of Nara, Japan houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Dating back to the year 752, it is over 49 feet tall and weighs more than 500 tons.
Kyoto is a beautiful city with strong ties to the past. Geisha can still be seen walking the streets of Gion, and thousands of shrine gates lead visitors up the mountainside at Fushimi Inari Taisha.
My cooking class on local cuisine included using a shark skin grater for fresh wasabi.