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Emperors, pilgrims and pleasure seekers have since the 6th-century AD travelled to the Kii Peninsula for a restorative dip in the onshen hot springs at Shirahama, one of which sits behind the town’s spectacular white-sand beach. Thus fortified, head inland for a guided walk along the Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage trail through a typically Japanese woodland of moss-covered wayside Buddhas and huge cypress trees, to the revered Hongu Taisha shrine, with its upswept eves and rustic wood walls. You can also ride the white-water rapids of the Kumano River on a traditional bamboo raft – one of the most memorable experiences wild Japan has to offer.
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