Kumano Kodo finally has a new World Heritage Center. It's a beautiful building, and it has a natural simplicity which is in harmony with its surroundings.
On July 3, 2009, the new facility was opened in
Hongu-cho in the city of Tanabe. It is located near Kumano Hongu Taisha grand shrine. The facility consists of two one-story buildings separated by an open space. It has simple lines and is made of unadorned wood.
The building on the left houses an extensive display of photos which capture the spirit of the many aspects of the Kumano Kodo World Heritage sites.
There is also a large hall with a large screen projecting scenes along the pilgrimage routes. Panels in both Japanese and English highlight aspects of the Kumano Kodo and the history behind it. A chainsaw wood carving of a practicioner of the Shugendo mountain priest sect is impressive; dressed for hiking in traditional style. The center is staffed by knowlegdeable volunteers (in Japanese).
The building on the right houses the office of the World Heritage Center in Tanabe.
There are many pamphlets and brochures in Japanese, English and limited information in a few other languages. There is a video of images along the pilgimage routes and areas of the world heritage sites. There are a few interesting experiential exhibitions also.
The layout of the facilities is pleasing and soothing to the spirit. There are clean restrooms and places to sit and enjoy learning more about the world heritage. People interested in hiking along the routes will be able to find maps and suggested routes for walks.
The center is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00 year round.