This coming Sunday (October 22nd) the city of Kawachinagano is holding its annual Koya Kaido Matsuri.
This small festival, held near the station, celebrates this ancient pilgrimage trail with numerous volunteer guides on hand to explain the history of the road.
Many local businesses will also set up stalls outside the historical Saijo Sake Brewery to showcase their wears and turn the street into a little market. I will actually be manning one of the stalls so pop down and say hello if you are in the area!
The Koya Kaido itself is pilgrimage trail dating back to the early Heian Period at the end of the 8th century and runs all the way from Kyoto in the north to sacred Koyasan in the south.
Originally only used by the Imperial Court, it slowly became popular among the noble classes and samurai and eventually even with peasants, making it one of the busiest pilgrim roads.
These three photos are all locations along the trail. On the left is the entrance to Eboshigata Hachiman Shrine in Kawachinagano. This once served Eboshigata Castle which sat upon the hill behind and acted as a checkpoint and toll gate.
The bottom right picture is the Saijo Sake Brewery, also in Kawachinagano, which dates back to the late Edo or early Meiji Period and serves as the venue for the festival.
The final picture is Niukanshobu Shrine in Kudoyama, Wakayama Prefecture. This shrines marks the location where the Koya Kaido road turns into the Koyasan Choishi-michi hiking trail that winds up into the mountains to the south and leads all the way to Okunoin Cemetery in the heart of Koyasan.
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