Deciphering a Japanese hiking map

You don't need to read Japanese to be able to decipher a hiking map. However, if you decide to go on a hike on your own, ask for help from Japanese friends or staff at information booths. There are many parts of the Kumano Kodo which are somewhat unclear as to where the paths may be going.
Historically, throughout the 1200 years of pilgrimages, the paths have changed from era to era. The prefectural and local governments have made every effort to mark the paths clearly, but one can still stray off the path inadvertently.
Look at the following map and study how to use it. The Legend (8) has been translated into English to give you an idea of map marking.

Click on the map below to enlarge it.

(1)Shows the elevation of land, 0 meters being at sea level and 900 meters

Tanabe - Gateway to Kumano (Part 1)

Tanabe is a wonderful base to begin your exploration of the Kumano region.  
 There are several towns and cities in Japan called Tanabe.  It is easy to go to a different location instead of going to Kii-Tanabe.  
The Kii Peninsula is the location of Tanabe of  Kumano Kodo fame.  It is located south east of Osaka at the southern most point of Honshu Island, the main island of Japan.
Kii is also the old name for the area before

Hiking Through the Seasons

On the Kii Peninsula, there are four seasons plus the rainy season. Summers are hot and humid. Fall and spring are comfortable with temperatures in the low 20s (70s for Fahrenheit). Winters are short and mild. The rainy season usually lasts from the end of June to the end of July when the temperatures ramp up and the humidity become quite uncomfortable. It is a six-week period of rainy days interspersed with sunny days. Hiking through all seasons is possible, and careful planning is necessary to have a great experience.