Sure the World Heritage sites in Kumano are great, but there are other sites to see up in the mountainous areas of Kumano. Go pick oranges and other fruit, relax at Kumano Club Hotel, and see the amazing terraced mountainside in Maruyama Senmaida!

It was early afternoon of day two of my trip to Kumano. I had enjoyed the beach area (You can read about it here: (https://www.kankomie.or.jp/en/report/detail_104_0.html) and now it was time to head in a little way towards the mountains.

I left the beach area and started towards the mountains. With the sun at my back, it was an awesome view! Beautiful blue sky and rolling green mountains rising in front of me. I was on my way to visit Maruyama Sendamai - an series of rice fields cascading down the mountain side.

I passed through a few tunnels and now the road was into a steep climb. You will find everything you would want from a drive in the country! Green trees everywhere, separated only by the bright blue sky and the road you are driving on. The constant flow of trees breaking away to expose valleys with clusters of houses, and fields of pansies and other flowers. Some of the mountain peaks seem to burst away from the tree line and expose tall faces of solid rock in near vertical drops.

A few minutes before I expected to turn into the area of my destination, I noticed a road sign telling me to turn. But after checking the map, it seemed that the road I was on was the better choice. Unfortunately, when I was instructed to turn, I didn’t see any signs there at all!

I pulled forward and saw what appeared to be something like a hiking trail information sign and a small bridge. There were signs that other vehicles had crossed, so away I went and soon I was climbing through a narrow forest road, further and further up the mountain. The sound of rushing water drew my attention to stream rushing under a bridge as I passed over.

Suddenly I came into a clearing and up to my right there was a vast hilly area with terrace upon terrace of rice paddies! Visually stunning! The road wound up and around the rice fields and houses.

A large boulder made an impact on the visual landscape, marking out its territory and adding a strong visual accent to the layers of the hill. From a small rest area, it’s even more impressive, almost as if it’s a baby mountain looking out to his big brothers.

A small, stone column indicated that this is Maruyama Senmaida.

I headed back down the winding road and the narrow forest road that I had come up, then out to what appeared to be the main road. Again, more beautiful forest roads but these were wider and I definitely recommended to use them when coming to visit. At the bottom of the heavily forested area there was a nice river that looked perfect for swimming – but in the summer. I’m sure it’s much too cold now!

Just past the school there was yet another beautiful site that looked perfect for swimming or fishing. The bridge led to a small road on the other side, so I decided to take that. There was a man-made tunnel of some kind of plant that I suppose blooms and creates a tunnel of flowers. I would love to see it when it’s in bloom! It seems there’s even a place to do some hiking in the mountains here. The trails are well-kept and there are support facilities like restroom and parking spaces.


I wanted to take a break and I found a good place to do it - a roadway station called “Kurobe no Sato Michi no Eki”.

It was a smallish “michi no eki” but one of the first things I noticed was that they had racks for parking road bikes! I realized that this entire area is ideal for cycling trips and it was nice to see warm, country-side hospitality extend to even this small detail.

“Kurobe no Sato Michi no Eki” is a typical roadside stop with all the things you need – a bit of food some snacks and some souvenirs. The operator highly recommended the local jidori (chicken) ramen. “It’s our number one seller. All made and grown locally.” So I gave it a try. And it was pretty good! I recommend putting in half a boiled egg for aesthetics, taste and a bit of dark humor.

According to the manager, this road station (and surrounding area), were named after Tamaki Kurobe, a peacemaker who lived 330 years ago in the Edo period. Tragically, he killed his wife by accident, and though it is said to be unclear why he and his wife are buried in different areas, I imagine the accident had something to do with it. His wife Okiku is buried about five minutes hike up the mountain across the river. The same hiking area I passed earlier by coincidence. Kurobe is buried in another location nearby.

After checking out the various souvenirs, I decided on getting some nihime, a kind of citrus fruit that can only be found here in the Kumano area. There’s even a little guidebook that shows you how to use it for different kinds of foods and drinks!


My next stop was Kumano Club Hotel. I was originally drawn to the beautiful guest rooms I saw on their website, but I was unable to reserve a room this trip, so I decided to visit their hot baths before finishing my trip in Kumano.

But… I got sidetracked. Just a few minutes away from the hotel, I passed Kumano Paradise, a fruit farm and shop. I stopped by for a visit and was lucky enough to speak with the owner and operator, Mr. Satoguchi, who explained about his farm.

Kumano Paradise opened about 5 years ago, and is operated by Kanayama Pilot Farm. They grow a 10 kinds of oranges, as well as blueberries. They started growing strawberries from this winter season.

He introduced some of the products in his shop, and I was surprised to see that they had honey with oranges on the label for sale. He explained that this honey was made during the blooming season of the oranges, and had orange overtones to the taste of the honey. I had to try some so I purchased a small bottle.

As for the orange picking, it costs 1200 yen for adults to select 2 or three kilograms of oranges to take home, plus all you can eat while inside the farm. I mentioned that that sounded very reasonable. To my delight, Mr. Satoguchi invited me to step inside the farm and try some oranges. Yay!

We went out to the orchards where the orange trees seemed to go on forever. There were several people in and among the trees, picking and eating oranges. I tried a few oranges. They were great! Nothing beats fresh fruit!

Of Kumano Paradise’s goals, Mr. Satoguchi said, “We have mikan, blueberries and now strawberries. It’s our goal to have picking activities year round.”

I was back on the road soon after, and arrived at Kumano Club within a few minutes.


Looking for a modern Japanese getaway out in the country? Want to enjoy amazing food and local rice wine, beer and other drinks in a chic lounge looking out over a beautiful mountain range? How about a unique hot spring with tatami-like mats instead of stone floors both inside and outside? Then visit Kumano Club just 15 minutes from the beach in Kumano City!

Set on what used to be part of Kanayama Pilot Farm out in the valley northwest of Shichiri Beach, Kumano City, and spread out over an area about three times the size of Tokyo Dome, Kumano Club is designed to be like a Japanese shuuraku, or small village.

The hotel has a lounge is a relaxing and spacious room with a great view of the mountains. In the evening they play relaxing jazz music etc. and sometimes host live performances from local artists. Here, guests can also enjoy a variety of alcoholic beverages on tap, as well as dried fruits and unique fish rolls - all complementary, and can interact with each other in the jazzy lounge.

Mr. Naito, the hotel manager, explained that it was their goal to make Kumano Club a place where guests can relax and enjoy many activities for free, with the goal of making the resort an all-inclusive facility with many more activities for guests to enjoy. Currently, they offer free yoga programs, free cycle rentals, and the lounge with free drinks.

Koku, Kumano Club’s main restaurant is a chic, modern Japanese style restaurant with a cozy atmosphere and mostly private tables. There are even tables for couples where they can sit side by side while they gaze out the window and enjoy their quiet meal. The restaurant were recently awarded 4 Michelin stars! Most of their food is locally grown.

Koku is also the name of a sake that is sold only here. You can find it in the gift shop. Koku means “May rain.”

Kumano Club has seen a sharp increase in visitors. They are currently operating at 91% occupancy, with foreigners accounting for nearly 10%. Many of them are from Taiwan, but I noticed some English speaking guests checking in during my visit. The staff was able to assist them with very good English. Guests from Osaka account for approximately 20%, and those from Aichi for nearly twice that.

Despite the spacious layout of the hotel, there are small buses circulating the five bus stops around the grounds throughout the day from 7AM to 8PM, so the elderly, the handicap, or anyone who simply wants a ride, can get around easily. You can even call the front desk and arrange a pick up from your room 24 hours a day.

Kumano Club is a fantastic place to stay as you tour the Kumano area, or even just to take it easy and relax all day at the hotel. Learn more about this fantastic resort here: https://www.kumanoclub.jp/
 I had a great time and I’m sure you will too!

Tourist attractions covered by this article