Kumano Sanzan is a trio of revered Shinto shrines situated on the Kumano Kodo. The shrines’ importance stems from the fact that they lie deep in the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture’s Kii Mountain Range, an area sometimes called the land of the gods. Religious pilgrims have travelled between the three—Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha, for over 1,000 years.
Yunomine Onsen was discovered about 1,800 years ago, and it is thought to be one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. According to legend, the village owes its wealth of medicinal waters to the Buddha of healing, Yakushi Nyorai. There is a statue of Yakushi Nyorai inside the local temple Tokoji, and keen observers will notice a hole in its chest. It is said that fountains of water came gushing from this opening and that from there the original name of the area was born: Yunomune, “Chest of Hot Water.”
Nachi Waterfall is called “Misuji no Taki”, “Nachi no Taki” or “Ichi no Taki” as water falls down from three mouths of the waterfall, and has kept its form of Kumano Faith. Gathering four rivers from Eboshiyama, Okumotoriyama, Myohozan, and Funami Toge, water falls down a vertical 133m-high cliff from a 13m wide mouth of the waterfall, and is one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan.