From Shirahama, it is about an hour and a half train ride to Kii-Katsuura.
The weather on Saturday was just like Friday, windy and overcast. From the JR Kii-Katsuura station, we hopped into a taxi and asked the driver to take us on a tour of the Nachi-Katsuura area. In many areas, you can get a taxi to take you on guided tours, they are a little more expensive than the local tours, but the taxis usually can take you through back roads to get closer to the sights than the buses.
Our first stop was the Meoto Sugi. (Meoto means husband and wife, sugi is cedar). These trees were about 800 years old.
In 2000, they had their first wedding ceremony performed between the two trees. It is thought that the couple that marries between these trees will love each other for as long as these trees have stayed together.
These trees are part of the Daimonzaka (which literally means large gate hill), it is the part of the pilgrimage route to Kumanosanzan (Kumano Grand Shrine), about an hour's drive from where we were. During the Heian period, many people used to make the pilgrimage from Kyoto to Kumanosanzan using this trail. Recently this trail, Kumanokodo (Ancient road of Kumano), was named a World Heritage site.
You can feel the history as you walk up the gradual slope and uneven rock stairs. And on both sides of the path are huge cedar trees watching over you all along the way.
At the top, there is a little plateau. This is where our taxi guide met us and took us to the next spectacular spot.
From the parking area, you need to walk down several flights of rock to the Nachi o-taki (Nachi waterfall). This waterfall is 133 meters high (436 feet) and 13 meters across (42 feet), it is the largest in Japan and is also a World Heritage site. It was an awesome sight.
After oohing and ahhing at the waterfall, we jumped back into the taxi and he took us up to Kumano Nachi Taisha (Kumano Nachi Shrine). This shrine is dedicated to the god of desires fulfilled.
On the property is a natural spring. A cupful of this water is supposed to give you 10 extra years. These people were taking the spring water by the liter!
After Satoshi and I had our cupful, we stopped in a little shop on the property for a little bite to eat.
From the shrine, you can see the falls. Even though the weather wasn't too cooperative, it was still beautiful to see the falls and experience the trail.