13 Dec 2016: Day 3 started bright and sunny. We set off from Hotel Kintetsu Aquavilla Ise-Shima after breakfast. What the car GPS (and Google Maps) recommended was a longer route via the Ise-Kisei Expessways. Not wanting to take the expressways I selected the “Avoid highways” checkbox on Google Maps to re-route via the coastal road between Minamiise and Kihuko. Not only is this route undoubtedly more scenic we save on tolls too.
There are more stop-starts along the way. The slow and narrow 50 kmh roads took us through small towns and coastal villages. It was well worth the extra fuel spent in exchange for the beautiful coastline meandering between secluded bays lined with pearl oyster farms that thrived on the nutrient rich water in the calm bay.
After a few extended photo stops along the way we arrived in Shingu well past lunch time. It began to pour so we took shelter at Sukiya restaurant for a warm bowl of beef rice before heading to our accommodation.
Shingu – Gateway to Kumano, a World Heritage Site
Shingu is a small coastal city of about 30,000 people situated on the eastern side of the Kumano region in Wakayama prefecture. It is the base for visiting the historic shrines of Kumano, namely: Hongu Taisha, Nachi Taisha and Hayatama Taisha, collectively known as the Kumano Sanzan (熊野三山).
It is said that God dwells in the mountains of Kumano. For centuries pilgrims from all corners of Japan, including the Imperial family, made their way to Kumano to pay homage to the Shinto gods.
These routes are still preserved till the present day now popularly known as the Kumano Kodō trail.
Accommodation for the 2 nights was a 2-storey unit we booked through Airbnb called Sushi House. We were greeted on arrival by Yusuke who owns the Maeda Sushi Restaurant (Tel: 0735-23-1002) next to it. Hence the name. Rate is SGD 158 (USD 113) a night inclusive of service fees, sushi not included. The accommodation comes with 3 bedrooms, a living room and kitchen on the ground floor. Also included are free Wi-Fi, umbrellas (I understand it rains here often), board games, playing cards, drinks in the fridge, ear plugs (this place is near a main road but quiet at night), 2 bicycles, and free parking. Very useful and thoughtful conveniences especially if you plan to stay longer. Yusuke made us feel at home right from the start with a personalised welcome sign at the entrance.
In the evening we had a satisfying dinner of sushi and sashimi at Sushi House. The excellent service and fresh sushi made us a repeat customer for the second night. Highly recommended even if you don’t stay there.
After dinner the family did some sundry shopping at the AEON mall nearby.
It was a long day and getting dark so the plan is to visit the Kumano shrines the following day.
Also read my tips on renting a car and driving in Japan.