Kohechi (小辺路)

Kohechi is a pilgrimage route to Kumano Sanzan (the three major shrines of Kumano region including Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine, Kumano Hayatama-taisha Shrine and Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine) and one of Kumano-kodo (Kumano old road). It connects Mt. Koya (Koya-cho, Ito County, Wakayama Prefecture) and Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine (Hongu-cho, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture), and extends north and south in the Kii Mountains.

Summary

Kohechi is a road that connects Mt. Koya, a sacred place of Esoteric Buddhism that was founded by Kukai, and Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine which is one of Kumano Sanzan. It is the shortest route among Kumano-kodo, the distance from the starting point to Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine is about 70 kilometers, and it goes over the geologically unique area from Okukoya to the Hatenashi Mountain Range which rises from the east to the west in the western part of the Kii Mountains. It is the severest route except for Omine Okugake Road.
(=> Refer to "Natural History")

Since before the early-modern period, Kohechi had been a community road for the residents in the Kii Mountains, and even after a new roadway was constructed through the mountain in the 20th century, it had been still used as a local road until about the 30's of the Showa era. Since the early-modern period, such a local road was used as a pilgrimage route that connected Kumano and Mt. Koya, and the name 'Kohechi' also appeared at the beginning of the early-modern period for the first time. Most records of pilgrimage to Kumano or Mt. Koya through Kohechi were compiled after the early-modern period and there are few records before the early-modern period.
(=> Refer to "History")

Kohechi starts at Mt. Koya (Koya-cho, Ito County, Wakayama Prefecture), soon enters Nara Prefecture, passes through Nosegawa Village (Yoshino County) and Totsukawa Village, and at near Yagimoto (Totsukawa Village), reaches Totsu-kawa River (Kumano-gawa River). Leaving Yagimoto and immediately after crossing Hatenashi Pass at the eastern end of the Hatenashi Mountain Range, the road enters Wakayama Prefecture and reaches Shimoyama-guchi of Yagio, Hongu-cho, Tanabe City. After that, for some distance it follows National Highway 168 along Kumano-gawa River until joining Kii-ji Road, and finally it arrives at Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine.
(=> Refer to "Passes on Kohechi")

There remain records that some people traveled this route in mere two days, however today it generally requires two days and three nights or three days and four nights. Among many parts of the route, Mt. Obakodake is relatively busy because it is one of the 200 top mountains of Japan and one of routes to climb Mt. Gomadan, however, since the whole route is difficult to access, other parts of the route keep tranquil atmosphere. Although there are several severely damaged parts of roads from Mt. Koya to Omata, it is highly evaluated that old roads with good conditions remain.

There are three passes having altitudes of over 1000 meters must be crossed and there are no communities for many hours after starting off, therefore full mountain climber's rig is required to travel the whole route, moreover snow falls in winter, so it is warned that this road is dangerous to carelessly try to travel on foot.
As a general guide, refer to "Kaido (Road) Map, Kohechi Mizugamine - Miuraguchi - Yanagimoto PDF" (January 28, 2006)
According to this guide, Kohechi is a 'difficult course for the experienced people.'
In the reports of the investigations conducted in late autumn to winter including 'the Kumano Kinenkan Museum 1987' and 'Tamaki 1979,' descriptions of snow and such photographs are found. It explains particulars about snow on the route as Tamaki and others encountered heavy snow and could not know even which was the right course since 40 centimeters of snow lay at one of the passes and there also lay the thick snow at the other side of the pass (Wakayama Prefecture), therefore they could not make sufficient investigation (refer to 28 of 'Tamaki 1979').

Foundation

Since it connects two holy places, Koya and Kumano, Kohechi has a function of a "road for the mountaineering asceticism in Buddhism" and it is said that there are remains of lodgings for the mountaineering asceticism in Buddhism and pilgrimage memorial pictures. However, it is considered that Kohechi was originally a local road connecting Yamato Province, Koya and Kumano for residents in the Kii Mountain Range, and it gradually became a pilgrimage route connecting the provinces in the Kinai region and Koyasan or Kumano.

The time when Kohechi began to be formed as community road is unknown; however, there is a historical document about Totsukawa Village and Nosegawa Village through which Kohechi passes dates back to the eighth century, besides there remain relics and other historical materials which can be linked to the road, therefore, it is considered that Kohechi was formed in the Heian period at the very latest. As for evidences, there remain the record of the 21st Kumano Betto (Chief of the shrines of Kumano) Tanzo who had his residence at Ojo-in Temple in Mt. Koya and "Kii Zoku Fudoki" (the Local History of Kii Province, Continued) that recorded a checkpoint had been built in 1332 at Yagio-guchi (Hongu-cho, Tanabe City) which is still the point for descending from Kohechi today. In addition, there remains "Ritei Yamato Chomonki" dated 1646, re-compiled by Wakayama Prefecture Bunkazai Kenkyukai (Society for the Study of Cultural Properties) (refer to 1982a 19 to 2005a 441). Nara Prefectural Library preserves a copy of this document. The document was drawn up by the lord of the Koriyama Domain Masakatsu HONDA and the lord of the Takatori Domain Iemasa UEMURA who had investigated the roads of the boundary of Kiwa Province by the order of the shogunate; and it recorded Kohechi in the name of 'Naka-michisuji' (literally 'middle route').

In the article about Kohechi in "Ritei Yamato Chomonki", expressions like 'the road 1 shaku (about 30.3 centimeters) in width', 'dangerous spot', 'horses and cattle cannot go through the road' appear frequently, therefore it is known that at that time Kohechi was just a steep slope on a mountain or some animal trail that was very difficult for people to travel. Since Hatenashi Pass was the southernmost pass of Kohechi and also the easternmost pass of the Hatenashi Mountain Range, people of Ryujin Village (Ryujin Village, Tanabe City) used some part of Kohechi which went through the Hatenashi Mountain Range. It is said that this part was particularly called 'Ryujin-kaido Hatenashi-goe' (Hatenashi Crossing of Ryujin Road) which ran from Ryujin to some sacred places including Yoshino, Kumano and Mt. Koya via Hatenashi Pass and Hongu (Hongu-cho, Tanabe City), and it was used by ascetic Buddhist monks and pilgrims for visiting Omine (Ominesan-ji Temple).

In addition, it is also important to remember that kiji-shi (woodturners) and shakushi-ya (ladle shop) used this road for their businesses. Kiji-shi were craftsmen who collected woods in mountains and made wooden products, such as bowls and trays, and it is said that in the mountain range from Okukoya to Yoshino there had been such craftsmen called 'Koshuwatari Kiji-shi' who had their base mainly in Ogura Village, Omi Province (Eigenji-cho, Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture) until the Taisho era. Some pilgrimage records during the early-modern period also say that such kijishi existed.

Such kiji-shi's base, Ogura Village issued kiji-shi's licenses (called 'menjo' or 'kansatsu') and sent runners to collect shares from kiji-shi who were doing their business in various parts of the country. There remains a document which recorded their business; it is titled 'Ujikogaricho' and formed of 87 volumes in total, and it recorded about 30,000 households of kiji-shi for 250 years until 1893 (the year 26 of the Meiji era). It recorded three kiji-shi's names in the article of 1758, 10 years after "San-Kumano Sankei Dochu Nikki" (the Diary on the Way to the Three Shrines of Kumano). In addition, according to it, there were 32 times of ujikogari (the collection of the shares) made in only Nosegawa Village for 160 years from 1707 to 1867.

Before the early-modern period

Unlike Nakahechi which had been a pilgrimage road for the imperial family and nobles, Kohechi had been originally a community road for the locals and came to be used as a pilgrimage road after the early-modern period. And unlike Ohechi which was another pilgrimage road to Kumano after the early-modern period and used by mainly writers and artists, Kohechi was used by mainly the common people. There are few records about Kohechi for these reasons.

There is a legend that TAIRA no Koremori was defeated by Genji (the Minamoto clan) and ran away secretly using this road, and once there had been a historic site associated with the legend; in a village 'Taira,' there still remains a legend that Koremori ran away to the village. It had been said that in the Genko War (1331), Imperial Prince Morinaga, a prince of Emperor Godaigo, used the road to escape from the tracking by the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by shogun) ('Escape of Otonomiya to Kumano,' volume 5, "Taiheiki" [The Record of the Great Peace]). However, these are just legends.

The oldest reliable record of pilgrimage to Kumano dates to the 16th century, according to it, Kiyoyoshi DOI, a samurai of Iyo Province, visited Kumano Sanzan after visiting Mt. Koya to perform a memorial service for his father who had died in a battle. Kiyoyoshi DOI was one of 'Saionji Jugo-sho' (fifteen commanders of Saionji) who served the lord of Iyo Province, the Saionji clan. The Doi clan originated in Kimotodoi, Muro County, Kii Province (Kumano City, Mie Prefecture), their ancestor was from the Suzuki clan, one of three guardians of Kumano, and they worshipped Kumano Sanzan. The pilgrimage record by Kiyoyoshi was compiled in the book of Kiyoyoshi's biography, "Seiryoki" (volume 17). Kiyoyoshi visited Mt. Koya first, went to Otaki and Omata, crossed Jinno-gawa River at Imoze, bought a lot of bows and stayed one night at Yagura. He departed from 'Yagimoto no watashi,' went across 'Mt, Hatenashi' (present Hatenashi Pass) and down to 'Yakiodani' (present Yagio), and visited first Hongu-taisha Shrine of Kumano Sanzan. Then Kiyoyoshi made a round of pilgrimages to Nachi-taisha Shrine of Kumano Sanzan and Shingu Shrine, visited ancestors' former territory Kimotodoi, and went to Ise-jingu Shrine.

In 1581, Yoshiyasu TAMAKI, a vassal of the Mori clan, visited Ise from Kyoto, made a round of pilgrimages to Shingu, Nachi and Hongu, visited Oku-no-in (inner sanctuary) of Mt. Koya. This pilgrimage record by Yoshiyasu was compiled in his biography "Minokagami," and analyzing the record about the dates and the route that he arrived at Shingu City on July 10 and at Mt. Koya on July 14, it is certain that he used kohechi, although he did not record this name of the road.

Establishment of the Road as a Pilgrimage Route

Although there were such examples in the Muromachi period, Kohechi as a pilgrimage road was established in the early-modern period, and its name 'Kohechi' appeared at the beginning of the early-modern period for the first time as well.

The oldest historical material that confirms the name 'Kohechi' is a story collected in "Seisuisho" (volume 1) which was a collection of comical stories compiled in 1628, and this pronunciation 'kohechi' (小辺路) is derived from it.

Sakuden ANRAKUAN, the compiler of "Seisuisho," dedicated it to Kyoto-shoshidai (deputy for governor-general of Kyoto) Shigemune ITAKURA in 1628. For the year of the compilation, it is considered that the name Kohechi had been known as early as the end of the Sengoku period (Period of Warring States, Japan) to the beginning of the early-modern period.

People called Kohechi by various names after the starting point and the ending point of the road. For example, it was called 'Koya-Kumano-kaido,' 'Nishi-Kumano-kaido,' 'Kumano-kaido' (according to "Kii Zoku Fudoki"), 'Koya-michi' and 'Kumano-michi,' and in the pilgrimage records written during the early-modern period, it was called 'Koya-michi' or 'Kumano-michi' (all these 'kaido' and 'michi' mean 'road'). According to the investigation by the Nara Prefectural Board of Education, the locals usually did not call the road 'Kohechi,' instead of it, particularly in Nosegawa Village, they called it 'Koya-michi' or 'Koya-kaido' after Mt. Koya (Temple), particularly in Totsukawa Village, they called it 'Kumano-michi' or 'Kumano-kaido' after Kumano (Shrines), presumably the road reflected local people's strong beliefs not only in Kumano Shrines but also in Mt. Koya Temple and in Daishi (higher priests). It is considered that this difference of names depends on the connection between each region and Koya or Kumano and on the destination of each pilgrim, and the name 'Kohechi' was used only when the whole pilgrimage road had to be explained.

Beliefs in Kohechi

Since it was established as a pilgrimage road in the Edo period, as for the aspect of beliefs, Kohechi had the characteristics of the early-modern period.

Kohechi was a road that connected two holy places Koya and Kumano as explained before. However, according to 'Murakami Sanin' (2001), Kohechi was not the only road that connected Koya and Kumano, and there were other routes. More specifically there were two other routes; the one started from Mt. Koya, passed through Daimon, Yukawatsuji, Shinko, Mino Pass, Mt. Nikko, went across Mt. Gomadan or Mt. Jogamori, and from Tonogauchi, went down the part called Ryujin-kaido to Iwata-gawa River and met Nakahechi: the another started from Mt. Koya as well, and from Mt. Nikko, went east along the ridge, and met Kohechi at Mt. Obako-dake.

This 'Mt. Nikko' is the peak about 1 kilometer northwest from Mt. Gomadan and there is Nikko-jinja Shrine that is said to have been built in the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period. This shrine preserves "Nikko Sankei Mandala" (the mandala of the pilgrimage to Nikko Shrine) which represents the pilgrimage in the Muromachi period. This mandala is not only positioned at the genealogy of the Kumano pilgrimage mandala from its style and but also contains images of Koya hijiri (ascetic of Koya-san Temple), therefore it is considered that two beliefs in Koya and in Kumano were intermingled in the then people's minds. However, beyond question, there remain few religious relics not only on such routes via Mt. Nikko but also on Kohechi. In fact, on Kohechi, any religious relics cannot be found except for traffic relics such as guideposts and remains of lodgings. Only Nikko-jinja Shrine exists on the route via Mt. Nikko.

From such a kind of point of view, the road connecting Koya and Kumano is not considered to have had a special significance of beliefs. Like the imperial family and nobles of Kyoto in the Muromachi period visited Kumano, people in the Edo period visited Kujuku Oji (a series of shrines which were established from the 12th century to the 13th century by the Kumano Shugen priests) and walked the pilgrimage roads, however, for the people who appreciated the religious significance of such visiting and walking, the roads connecting Koya and Kumano were just the shortest routes for their purpose. However, the influence of the pilgrims who started visiting Kujuku Oji in the Muromachi period already disappeared during the early-modern period, and even the shrines of Kujuku Oji were declining. Therefore, in the Edo period, the belief in Kumano on Kohechi meant mainly the pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines including Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine, Kumano Hayatama-taisha Shrine and Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine). As 'Murakami Sanin' pointed out in an article concerning the pilgrimage road to Mt. Koya, during the early-modern period, most pilgrims did not appreciate the religious significance of just walking pilgrimage roads. For that, the beliefs in Kohechi can be said to have had the specific characteristics of the Edo period.

Pilgrimage Records in the Early-modern Period

In the early-modern period, especially after the latter half of the 17th century, the common shopkeepers of Kinai region and the vicinities recorded their pilgrimages, and such records gives the details of Kohechi. And the pilgrims from Togoku (eastern provinces) also often used Kohechi as the shortest route to Mt. Koya and Kinai region after visiting Ise and Kumano. The traffic relics which still remain including lodgings, teahouses and guideposts were built at important key of Kohechi in the early-modern period and it is known that Kohechi was an important transport road.

Anrin TERAUCHI, one of the headmen of Mukai Village, Tanboku County, Kawachi Province (Matsubara City, Osaka Prefecture) and a Haiku poet of Danrin-ha, wrote a book of a travel titled "Kumano Annaiki" (Guidebook to Kumano) (hereinafter quote it as "Annaiki"). In 1682, Anrin and three or four friends of his used Kohechi from Mt. Koya to visit Kumano Sanzan, after leaving Nachi-taisha Shrine of Kumano Sanzan, they used Ohechi (literally, 'wide road') to visit Saigoku Sanjusansho (the thirty-three temples dedicated to Kanzeon-bosatsu in Kinki region) from Kimii-dera Temple to Fujii-dera Temple, and went back home. "Annaiki" was a guidebook containing haiku, kyoka (comic or satirical tanka) and illustrations. Sora KAWAI, a pupil of Basho MATSUO, traveled various parts of Kinki region for about four months from March to the end of July of 1691, and during the travel, he walked Kohechi from Mt. Koya to visit Hongu-taisha Shrine. According to the Sora's diary written during traveling Kinki region "Kinki Junyu Nikki," he visited Mt. Koya on April 9, lodged in Omata and in Nagai, and arrived at Hongu-taisha Shrine on April 11, only two days after visiting Koya.

As for the diaries about visiting Kumano written after the 18the century, there remain "Kumano Meguri" (hereinafter quote it as "Meguri") written in 1738 by a merchant with an unknown name who lived near Korai-bashi Bridge of Osaka and "San-Kumano Sankei Dochu Nikki" (hereinafter quote it as "Dochu Nikki") written in 1747 by a retainer of Yazaemon YAO, a brewer of Itami. According to "Meguri," the merchants including the writer left Osaka on May 14, walked Kohechi from Mt. Koya to Kumano to visit Hongu-taisha Shrine, Shingu Shrine and Nachi-taisha Shrine, and used Nakahechi to return to Osaka. The writer of "Meguri" described the details of various things that he saw during his journey, and gives us vivid descriptions of the roads. The writer of "Dochu Nikki" with two of his friends and two palanquin carriers left Itami on March 29, and followed the same route as "Meguri". They arrived at Koyasan on April 3, and four days later, on April 7 visited Hongu-taisha Shrine, Shingu Shrine and Nachi-taisha Shrine, and after visited again Hongu Shrine on April 11, they went to Tanabe City on April 13, and went back to Itami on April 19. "Dochu Nikki" is an outstanding diary in 'variety of the records, uniqueness and a lot of information about the folks,' and it has an interesting anthropological aspect as well.

As for the pilgrimage records by the pilgrims from Togoku (the eastern provinces), there remains "Ise Sangu Dochu-ki" (Travel Journal of Ise Pilgrimage) recorded a pilgrimage of the members of Yamato-ya, a shop of kiji-ya (wood-turners) of Aizunanzan Hogamigoya (Tateiwa Village, Minami-aizu County, Fukushima Prefecture). The members of Yamato-ya departed from Aizu on New Year's Day of 1850 to visit Ise-jingu Shrine; on February 9 they visited Shingu Shrine and Kumano Hayatama-taisha Shrine, and immediately after visiting Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine on February 10, they went across Kumotori-goe Pass and Okumotori-goe Pass, and lodged at Koguchi; and on February 11 they visited Hongu-taisha Shrine. The next day they visited Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine and crossed Hatenashi Pass, lodged in Yakura and in Omata, and arrived at Mt. Koya in the morning of February 14.

Since the pilgrims from Togoku were characterized by their dialect and clothing, they were called 'kanto-be' or 'oshu-be' in Kinan region including Kumano. Since for the most of them it was only a one-time trip in their lives, they traveled north along Kohechi to shorten the traveling route to visit historical sites in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Such kanto-be and oshu-be began their trips after finishing harvests in Autumn, therefore they had to walk Kohechi in midwinter, however, 'most of them crossed passes on which snow lay about 90.9 centimeters high without any difficulties and stayed at inns in Kayagoya, Omata or Mizugamine'. And the record of pilgrimage by Yamato-ya says that they obtained Kumano Goo-fu (talismans of Kumano shrines) in Shingu Shrine and in Nachi-taisha Shrine, and pounded Kumano-ko mochi (rice cake of the religious association of Kumano shrines), which was a characteristic custom of the kanto-be and oshu-be. They called Kumano Goo-fu talismans 'Ofuda Mojiban' and highly valued them as gofu (talismans), which were indispensable during the pilgrimage to Kumano. Kumano-ko mochi was a custom of pounding mochi (rice cake) with an oak pounder at an inn or lodging, and presumably it was a custom which had been developed in the provinces of kanto-be and oshu-be by the members of Kumano-ko (religious associations of Kumano shrines) and later brought by them to Kumano, the home of Kumano-ko.

From the End of the Edo Period to Modern Times

In the disturbances at the end of the Edo period, Tenchu-gumi (royalist party to inflict punishment), a party of Sonno Joi-ha (supporters of the doctrine of restoring the emperor and expelling the barbarians), rose to action in 1863, assembled in Gojo City, together with goshi (country samurai) of Totsukawa River who were associated with the Imperial Court, however goshi withdrew and returned to their home due to the sudden change of the situation, and Tenchu-gumi collapsed in Higashiyoshino Village. After that, some groups of them ran away along Kohechi to Totsukawa Village.

Totsukawa Village suffered a sever damage from a great flood in August, 1889. Since the then highway (present National Highway 168) along the main stream of Totsu-kawa River which was at the center of the disaster collapsed drastically, the runners used Kohechi to report the disaster promptly to the county office which was located in Gojo City at that time, and people used the road as a rescue route as well. Some residents gave up restoring the village because of the financial troubles from the flood, and moved to Hokkaido (the settlement became 'Shin-totsukawa-cho'). At that time, those people walked Kohechi from Mt. Koya to go down to Kobe City, and from Kobe they went to Hokkaido by ship.

Since in modern times after the Meiji Restoration, the custom of the pilgrimage to Kumano became obsolete, Kohechi was no longer used as a pilgrimage route, however it continued to be used as a community road for trade and transportation of goods by local residents until the early Showa era.

The locals of villages in the mountains of Yoshino along Kohechi depended on human power to carry goods, however, after the middle of the Meiji era, they used horses. Two or three horses were bred in each district of Nosegawa Village and they traveled to Mt. Koya by horses. They received rice, salt, soy sauce, bean paste, liquor, fish and other convenience goods from Mt. Koya, and they sent charcoal, lumber, chopsticks, wood shavings, paper mulberry, dried stems of the taro, and freeze-dried tofu to it. As explained above, Hatenashi Pass at the boundary of Kiwa continued to be used as a community road connecting Ryujin, Kumano, Koya and Omine.

Present Day

As explained above, Kohechi was a community road in modern times, and continued to be used until National Highway 168 was constructed at the whole sections between Gojo and Shingu. By building a tunnel from Gojo City at the north to Tentsuji Pass (800 meters above sea level), in 1922, a motor road was constructed for the first time at Kumano-gawa River Basin through which Kohechi went, however the construction was deferred again and again, and in 1936 the road to Kawatsu Village was finally completed. At almost the same time, the motor road was extended to Nosegawa Village, then, the role of Kohechi as a community road ended. In addition, at some sections, the old sceneries disappeared as national roads and forestry roads were built. The followings are the sections which were particularly damaged among them.

Otaki Village (Koya-cho) - Mizugamine (Nosegawa Village) - Koya Ryujin Skyline (National Highway 371)

Mizugamine - Omata Village (Nosegawa Village) - Forestry Road Tainohara Route (opened in 1997)

The evaluation report for the project did not mention that the sites for the construction contained Kumano-kodo (old Kumano road).

Omata Village - Mt. Obakodake Trail (Nosegawa Village) – the section for widening the Forestry Road

Nishinaka Otani - Yagimoto (Totsukawa Village) - National Highway 425

Yagio - Sangenjaya (Hongu-cho, Tanabe City) - National Highway 168

As explained above, people gradually did not use Kohechi, and in the 30's of the Showa era the road ended its role as the main road in the Kii Mountains. In addition, since Nakahechi was well known as a Kumano pilgrimage road and Kohechi did not draw much attention from the beginning, in the Showa era, Kohechi gradually became almost 'an unknown Kumano pilgrimage road'. Besides, historical sceneries were lost by the constructions of motor roads and forestry roads, and the things about Kohechi was approaching a serious crisis as people forgot not only various relics along the road but also the road itself.

However, after Yoshiharu TAMAKI pointed out the importance of Kohechi in his pioneering works, several reports were published in the 1980's or later. Tamaki tried to travel across only Hatenashi Pass, however a group including a mountaineer Masaichiro NAKANISHI, a local history researcher Koichiro SUGINAKA and a writer/forester Toshikatsu UE walked the whole route and reported on relics, folk customs and legends along the road (1982). These were followed by an investigation report of the Kumano Kinenkan Museum (Shingu City). The team of the Kumano Kinenkan Museum investigated the whole route in Autumn and Winter from 1985 to 1986, and this was the first academic investigation of Kohechi. The investigation by the Kumano Kinenkan Museum confirmed many relics such as guideposts, stupa-shaped stones for indicating distances and ruins of inns, and pointed out that it had been a road for the common people. However, Kohechi was already ruined at that time as it blocked by striped bamboos and windfalls and some sections were collapsed. And many sections of the older road which had been used before the early-modern period had collapsed and were not found.

Around 2000, as the campaign for registering 'holy places and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains' as a World Heritage site was broaden; in 1999 re-investigation into the road was conducted with the opening of Japan Expo Nanki Kumano, and in 2001 and 2002, immediately before the registration, the projects for maintenance, restoration and reconstruction were energetically carried. By the projects, not only old road before the early-modern period was restored and reconstructed, but also facilities for users, such as public restrooms, were built.

Murakami Sanin 2001' is a report of one of the investigations which were conducted at that time, and it repositioned the pilgrimage roads in the Kii Mountains including Kohechi by their connections with the belief in Mt. Koya (temple), and introduced new historical materials. Oyama 2000' that provides an overview of Kumano-kodo including Kohechi includes a brief record of the exploration in 1995. Ue 2004b' was a result of the second exploration by Ue which was conducted in 2002, and it is a very interesting report as well as the report of the first exploration which was conducted twenty years ago, since they give the information of the changes of Kohechi of the twenty years. Nara Prefectural Board of Education 2002=>2005b,' an investigation conducted by Nara Prefectural Board of Education, was carried out to inscribe the Kumano Road as a World Heritage site. It was a systematic investigation following the study by the Kumano Kinenkan Museum, and developed many studies by the Kumano Kinenkan Museum. The reports by Nara Prefectural Board of Education listed the older routes before the early-modern period and reported the information linked to the conservation of cultural scenery including the information of natural history, archaeology, history and sceneries, in addition, it gave the results of the important investigations and studies such as summaries of the history of the investigations and studies, and bibliographies of the old documents and historical materials.

In July, 2004, Kohechi was inscribed as a part of a World Heritage site 'holy places and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains.'
However, many parts of the road were damaged before the registration. The section from Mt. Koya to Omata had been particularly damaged. As explained above, the section from Otaki Village to Mizugamine was lost by the construction of Koya Ryujin Skyline, and the old road on the ridge from Mizugamine to Omata was destroyed and lost completely by the construction of the Forestry Road Tainohara Route. Tainohara Route was built in 1988 to 1997 before the re-investigations and the maintenances for the inscription of World Heritage site, and the intellects who knew Kohechi bitterly opposed the construction. However, at last most of old road from Mt. Koya to Omata was lost permanently and only the name remains in the investigation report of 1987 by the Kumano Kinenkan Museum.

In some sections, the old roads are not found yet because people have not used it for a long time or people used another routes in some periods; and for those sections, further investigations, studies and additional application for World Heritage site are required. One of the pressing matters is that some sections are just about to be lost, including the section in the Hatenashi Mountain Range which was chosen as the development site for wind power generation by Kansai Electric Power.

Passes on Kohechi

The followings are the route of Kohechi and three main passes, famous places, historic spots and relics along Kohechi and its neighboring areas.

Mizugamine

When walking Kohechi from Mt. Koya, the starting point is a slope at the right of the entrance of Kongosanmaiin Temple. At the top of the slope of the forestry road, the road goes into Rokuro Pass. From Rokuro Pass which was one of Koya Nana-kuchi (seven gates of Mt. Koya), a flat forestry road extends along the ridge, and it descends from a dug way before Susuki Pass to Odo-gawa River. There is a stupa-shaped stone for indicating the distance at the middle of the downhill.
The road crosses a bridge over Odo-gawa River and ascends a steep slope to Otaki Village
From the side of the house which is located at the end of the village, a forestry road extends again and it meets the Koya Ryujin Skyline. In this section to the ridge of Mizugamine (about 1 kilometer), the old road had been lost by the construction of the Koya Ryujin Skyline, and the traces of it can be found only in the Torii (shrine gate) of the shrine of Mt. Kojin-dake.

From the left of the Koya Ryujin Skyline, the road goes up to a ridge which is Mizugamine. In the early-modern period, Mizugamine was a village managing lodgings and there still remain the windbreak of Japanese cedars. After passing through Mizugamine, a broadleaf forest continues for a while, and the road meets Forestry Road Tainohara Route which extends on the ridge. As explained above, the old road on the ridge was lost almost completely by the construction of the Forestry Road Tainohara Route.
That is, the section from Mt. Koya to Omata was 'mostly destroyed by the Koya Ryujin Skyline and by the Forestry Road Tainohara Route between Mizugamine and Omata.'

The road of the ridge (present Tainohara Route) leads to the old crossroads to the villages at the foot of the mountain including Hinokimata-tsuji crossroads, Imanishi-tsuji crossroads, and Taira-tsuji crossroads. There is a flat place near Taira-tsuji crossroads, which seems to be ruins of an inn. In this section, Kohechi goes across the ridge, and at some points it branches and leads to villages at the foot of the mountain. Kohechi was important for villages at the foot of the mountain as a main road to Mt. Koya which was a market of the commodities. From Taira-tsuji crossroads, an unpaved road goes into a forest of Japanese cedars, descends to Prefectural Road Kawatsu-Koya Line, and reachs Omata Village near Kawarabi-gawa River.

Since Omata Village was mentioned in "Seiryoki," it is considered to have been formed as a village along a major road in the early Muromachi period, and "Meguri" described the village as an inn town for travelers who crossed Obako Pass and recorded the names of such inns including Tsuda-ya Inn and Sakaguchi-ya Inn. Omata was also a station town for the transportation of merchandise connecting Mt. Koya and Jinno-gawa River of Totsukawa Village, and among the bosses of the horse stations, Umanosuke IKEO is known.

Rokuro Pass

It is a trace of Otaki-guchi which was one of Koya Nana-kuchi (seven gates of Mt. Koya). As explained above, in the mountains of Yoshino and Kumano, many kiji-shi (wood-turners) were doing their business until about the Taisho era, therefore, presumably its name 'Rokuro' originated from a tool of kiji-shi 'rokuro' (potter's wheel). It is said that there was a Nyonin-do for women to pray to Mt. Koya from the distant place, since women had been prohibited from entering Mt. Koya until 1872.

Stupa-shaped Stone for Indicating Distances

It is a monument of a rectangular column with a round head erecting on a slope which extends from Susuki Pass to Odo-gawa River; in the front of it, a seated figure of Priest Kobo-daishi was carved by han-niku-bori (mezzo-rilievo); on the right side, the distances to Mt. Koya and to Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine were engraved; on the left side, the distances to Osaka, to Nara and to Wakayama were engraved; according to it, the distance to Kumano Hongu-taisha Shrine was seventeen-ri (about 67 kilometers).

Mizugamine

Mizugamine is a trace of a village on a ridge road from Otaki Village to Omata Village. Some travel journals recorded that there was one house in Mizugamine (refer to "Kumano Annaiki" and "Meguri"). There were four houses at the end of the Edo period, and there were eight houses in 1899, however it was the golden age of Mizugamine; after that, the number of travelers decreased and the number of residents decreased as well, and in about 1950 there was no longer residents.

Obako Pass

In this section, from Omata Village the road ascends a steep slope, passes through a ruin of an old house called 'Kaya-goya-ato,' and goes to the ridge.

Kaya-goya-ato' is a trace of a small village. According to "Annaiki," there were two houses, however, according to "Nosegawa-mura-shi" (History of Nosegawa Village) published in 1974, there was only one house which was an inn managed by the Kasuya family. After that, the team of the Kumano Kinenkan Museum reported that there had been no resident in the house, and in 2002 when Ue visited it, there was only the remains of the house.

After passing Kaya-goya-ato, the road joins a road going across the ridge at Hinoki Pass which has a legend that a hinoki grew from the chopsticks thrown away by Priest Kobo-daishi (refer to "Annaiki" and "Meguri"). The road goes around the side of Mt. Natsumushi to a guidepost, one of Myogo Honzon Monument, on which engraved as "Kumano Road from Koya." This guidepost was located at a crossroads to Mt. Gomadan, to Obako Pass and to the summit of Mt. Obako-dake, and the old road went through the east side of the summit.

From the pass, the road descends a gentle slope and arrives at a crossroads where remains Uenishi-ke-ato (literally, 'the ruin of the Uenishi house'). From the crossroads, one road (called 'kyudo' literally 'former road') goes down the side of the mountain to the foot, and the other road (called 'kodo' literally 'old road') goes across near the ridge. Kyudo' is said to have been built in the early-modern period or in the Meiji era, and 'kodo' could not be even walked until the re-opening in 2003.

Kodo' leads to Mizugamoto where once Taishi-do (a sacred place for Priest Kobo-daishi) was built (refer to "Meguri") and to Machi-daira where once had a legend of Otonomiya and ruins of a house surrounded with a stone wall (refer to "Meguri"), after that the road descends to the bank of Jinno-gawa River at Shimoyamaguchi near Mitadani Bridge.

Obako Pass

Obako Pass is the highest point of Kohechi (1220 meters above sea level). It goes the east side of Mt. Obako-dake (1344 meters above sea level).
There is a guidepost engraved as it was constructed in 1917 and on the back engraved as 'Kumano Road immediately after crossing Totsu-kawa River.'
On this guidepost engraved the names of donators including Yoshiaki TAMAKI, a forester of Oritachi (Totsukawa Village) and Umanosuke IKEO mentioned above.

Uenishi-ato

Uenishi-ato (ruins of the Uenishi house) is a trace of the inn along a major road, managed by the Uenishi family until about the Meiji era. There are a stone wall one meter high along the old road, a flat area 20 meters by 20 meters, a windbreak and a trace of a garden. There was a residence with a frontage of about 10.92 meters and a depth of about 10.92 meters in the Meiji period and the last residents lived until the early Showa period.

Miura Pass

From Sugikiyo, the road goes down along Jinno-gawa River, crosses a bridge over the river near a primary school of Imoze, and goes to Miura-guchi which is the entrance of Miura Pass. After passing through tanada (terraced rice fields) of the village of Miura-guchi, a slope of tsuzuraore (a zigzag path) begins. At the north of Miura Pass, there are two natural stone guideposts; the one is about 2725 meters away from the river, and another is about 3270 meters away from the river. Beside the stone 3270 meters away from the river (called 'sanju-cho-ishi'), there is also a guidepost of stone jizo which has Funagata-kohai (boat-shaped halo) and was carved in the style of hannikubori (mezzo-rilievo).

The Miura Pass is at a height of 1070 meters above sea level. It crosses a forestry road and the prospect is not good. There is an unmanned observatory of the precipitation. There is a flat area that seems to be remains of a teahouse or inn, however it is not confirmed.

From Miura Pass, the road goes down through a wood lot and passes through the remains of Koyagura (an old watchtower) which was recorded in "Seiryoki." And the road (the old road) meets a new road which is considered to have been built in the middle of the 18th century, the old road extends to the left, passes beside Kannon-do (a temple dedicated to Kannon), and descends to Nishinaka-Otani near Nishi-kawa River, a branch of Togtsu-kawa River. From this point, the old road seems to have been incorporated in National Highway 425, therefore the old road is unclear except for few sections such as the section around Otsu-goe.

Hatenashi Pass

The road goes through near the village of Yagimoto which once had ferries and inns, and leads to the last pass on Kohechi, Hatenashi Pass. Across Nishi-kawa River, in Warabio there was a ferry for the boats which carried goods from Shingu for woodcutters in the mountains (refer to "Meguri"). Although travelers could use such boats, most pilgrims crossed Hatenashi Pass by foot.

The section of Hatenashi Pass was used not only by pilgrims but also by local people as community road. A road named 'Nanairo Yokote' road was built from Warabio to Nanairo in the first year of the Meiji era, however it was seldom used because it was a dangerous path along a cliff. Hatenashi Pass was disused when air propeller boats were introduced between Shingu and Oritachi in 1921. Many years after that, National Highway 168 from Gojo was extended to the south of Yagimoto, and when the road finally connected to Hongu-cho with the electric power development in the 30's of the Showa era, Hatenashi Pass ended the role as a community road.

Stone pavement remains on the ascent from Yanamoto to Hatenashi Village. On this slope, there were two kanjinsho (offices for raising funds) for the construction of the road, and they collected transit duty from passersby for the maintenance of the stone pavement. The road passes through Hatenashi Village and immediately above the village it reaches the 30th Kannon-zo (a statue of Kannon) of Saigoku Sanjusan-sho. This statue is one of Sanjusan Kannon-zo (thirty-three statues of Kannon) which were built along the old road; the 1st Kannon-zo is located at Yagio, Hongu-cho and the 33rd Kannon-zo is located at Ichizako, Totsukawa Village.

After entering the mountain, a gentle ascent extends and leads to ruins of Yamaguchi-jaya Teahouse at the left. It is considered to be the ruins of the teahouse which was described as 'forty-chome teahouse' in "Meguri" and as 'about 3.927 kilometers up from Yanaimoto' in "Guidebook," and there still remains a trace of a stone wall. After ascending for a while, Kannon-do becomes visible. Beside Kannon-do, there is the 20th Kannon-zo, after that, the road goes down a steep slope to Hatenashi Pass. Hatenashi Pass (1,114 meters above sea level) is a small flat area which old road meets on the middle of the ridge of the Hatenashi Mountain Range, and there remain a half-damaged Hokyoin-to (Buddhist stupa) and the 17th Kannon-zo.

From the pass, a steep slope extends again. Before meeting the 15th Kannon-zo, there is an open space which was described as 'Hanaori-jaya Teahouse' in "Meguri," however today there remains only Rokuji-no-myogo Kuyoto (a stone monument engraved a prayer to Buddha). It is said that this was a remain of a teahouse built by villagers of Nanairo Village down the mountain and also called Haccho-jaya Teahouse because it was haccho (about 872 meters) away from the pass. After descending from the teahouse, the road meets Nanairo crossroads which has a little wide space. There is a stone pillar for indicating the boundary of 'Nanairo-ryo' (the territory of Nanairo) at the right of the old road, and it is said there was also a teahouse run by residents of Nanairo.

The road goes down to Kumano-gawa River at Yagio. The road from Yagio is unclear because there constructed a national highway over it. In the early-modern period, some pilgrims used boats from Yagio to Hongu-taisha Shrine (refer to "Meguri"). After going from Yagio to Kuki via Hagi, around Kuki the old road starts again and goes up to join Nakahechi at the remains of Sangen-jaya Teahouse of Nakanodaira. There is a stone guidepost shaped like a shogi piece at the joint with Nakahechi, and it is reported that there were a checkpoint and a teahouse. It takes little time to reach Hongu-taisha Shrine soon after ascending the slope from the joint.

Hatenashi Village

It is a village located on the ridge and it is near one of the entrance of Hatenashi Pass for climbers who climb from the side of Totsu-kawa River. The prospect to the north is fine. There are gentle (almost even) slopes halfway up the Kii Mountains, and they are considered to be traces that the Kii Mountains was once a upheaval semi-plain in terms of geology.

Sanjusan Kannon-zo

It is a group of thirty-three Kannon-zo (statues of Kannon) located along the sections of mountain; it starts at Yagio, Hongu-cho (the 1st), stops by Hatenashi Pass (the 17th) and by Hatenashi Village (the 30th), and ends at Ichiizako (the 33rd). Those Kannon-zo of Saigoku Sanjusan-sho were built by the donation by the believers in Totsukawa, Shingu and Hongu in 1922 to 1923. They have Funagata-kohai (boat-shaped halo) and were carved in the style of hanniku-bori (mezzo-rilievo) or atsuniku-bori (deep-engraving), on each halo engraved the name of the fuda-sho (temple) and the name of the Kannon, and on each pedestal engraved the date of the erection and the names of donators.

Hatenashi Kannon-do

It is Kannon-do (temple for Kannon) located under Hatenashi Pass
This Kannon-do of hogyo-zukuri style faces south on a flat area (13.7 meters by 9.5 meters) with a stone wall around it, and three stone statues are placed in it. The left statue is a standing statue of Thousand Armed Kannon (boat-shaped halo, stone, hanniku-bori); the middle statue is a seated figure of Hijiri Kannon (stone, maru-bori [three dimensional sculpture]); the right statue is a seated figure of Fudo-myoo (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings) (flame-shaped halo, stone, atsuniku-bori); and they have worn away. On the pedestals of the statues of Hijiri Kannon and Fudo-myoo engraved the names of donators and builders.

Geography

Kohechi is a road that runs north and south in the Kii Mountains. The Kii Mountains belongs to the outer zone of the south of the medial line that divides the western Japan into the north part and the south part, and it is formed of mainly the mountain ranges which run from north to south including the Omine Mountain Range that rises at the middle of the Kii Mountains, the Obako Mountain Range that rises at the west of the Omine Mountain Range and at the opposite side of Totsu-kawa River which separates from Omine, and the Daiko Mountain Range that rises at the east side of Kitayama-gawa River which separates from Omine as well. These mountain ranges are influenced by the geological structure that extends east and west, and derives and crosses a lot of mountain ranges including the Hatenashi Mountain Range and the Oto mountains which run east and west. Among those mountains of the Kii Mountains, Kohechi goes across the western mountains such as the Obako Mountain Range and the Hatenashi Mountain Range.

The Kii Mountains was formed by the upheaval in the Quaternary period and has characteristics of mature mountains with many steep slopes, uphills and downhills. There are meandering rivers, cut-off spurs and great v-shaped valleys formed by the rivers in the mountains; valley plains and fluvial terraces are poorly developed while a lot of flat areas are found on the tops and sides of mountains. These were formed by erosion by the rivers that kept its meandering stream which had been already fixed on the level lands before the upheaval of the mountains began. The mountains that Kohechi crosses have a constant height of ridge lines, from 1100 to 1300 meters, with some exceptions. This indicates that the upheaval semi-plain of the Kii Mountains was formed by erosion by rivers.

Geologically, it consists of metamorphic rock and hydroenic rock in the Paleozoic era and the Mesozoic era. The zonation that extends east and west is very clear; from north to south there extend Sanbagawa Belt, Chichibu Belt and Shimanto Belt, the northernmost belt is the oldest and the southernmost belt is the youngest; and around the belts are Tanabe Group and Kumano Group which were formed in the Cenozoic era. As described above, the mountain ranges that stretch east to west are influenced by such geological structures while the mountain ranges that stretch south and north have continuous geology with few dislocations and some rolling deformations by the pressure from the east and the west.

Water System

As for the water system, great v-shaped valleys and meandering rivers with great flections draw attention as described above.

The v-shaped valley along Jinno-gawa River, a branch of Totsu-kawa River, is particularly well developed among the rivers in the Kii Mountains, the distance between ridge lines on both sides is 10 kilometers, the depth is more than 500 meters, the vertical drop from Kawatsu which is a joint of Jinno-gawa River and the main stream of Totsu-kawa River to the divide is more than 1,000, however it does not have great flections. It is considered that the small flections had been eroded by the upheaval which is still on the move.

Among the branches of Totsu-kawa River, Yu-kawa River, Kawarabi-gawa River and Nishi-kawa River which is a branch of Yu-kawa River have many small flections of a radius of 100 to 500 meters. It is noteworthy that the main stream of Totsu-kawa River has no sharp flections like those which are found in Yu-kawa River and Nishi-kawa River. The omega-shaped lands surrounded by such flections usually form cut-off hills, however, some places like are re-formed by people to built short paths of water for the prevention of flood. The meanderings of the rivers are considered to be traces of the stream which had been formed on the upheaval semi-plains. A lot of geographical features which seem to be traces of such upheaval semi-plain are found around Kohechi.

As for creatures, especially fish, in the water system, "Washu Yoshino-gun Gunzanki" written by Tomoari MINAMOTO in the Kowa era (the later Edo period) lists five kinds of fish including Japanese char (locally called kirikuchi), ayu (sweetfish), red spotted masu trout (landlocked masu salmon) and eel; after that, plenty of investigations and studies has been conducted on freshwater fish in Totsu-kawa River and its branches. Japanese char likes cold water and the upstream part of Totsu-kawa River is considered to be the southern limit of its habitat. The mountain stream at the most upstream of Kawarabi-gawa River that Kohechi crosses is commonly called kirikuchi-dani (kirikuchi valley) and kirikuchi living in this stream was registered as a natural treasure of Nara Prefecture in 1962.

Climate

The mountainous region of the south of Nara Prefecture where most parts of Kohechi go through belongs to the continental highland climate or oceanic highland climate influenced by the Pacific Ocean, and it is on the path of typhoons, therefore, it is known as one of the areas that have significantly high rainfall. Although there is no year-round record of the weather of Kohechi, it can be roughly estimated from the record of observations in Totsukawa Village and Nosegawa Village, or from those in Mt. Koya. For example, according to the record of the observations in Mt. Kojin-dake near Nosegawa Village, it was -1.9 ℃ in January (4.6 ℃ in Kashihara City in the same month), 21.3 ℃ in August (27.7 ℃ in Kashihara), 9.7 ℃ on yearly average (1.56 ℃ in Kashihara); in Totsukawa which is warmer than the mountain, the maximum temperature in summer was about 25 ℃ and the minimum temperature in winter was below 10 ℃, therefore it is regarded as a cold or cool climate.

As for the precipitation, it was over 400 millimeters in Totsukawa at the peak of summer, which greatly exceeded the monthly average of precipitation in the Nara Basin (100 to 200 millimeters). In Nosegawa, the annual precipitation is 2000 to 3000 millimeters, and although it is less than the precipitation in Odaigahara, it can be called an area with has a high rainfall.

Distribution of Plants

The vegetation of Kohechi is influenced by a fact that the climate of the western parts of Nara Prefecture where most parts of Kohechi go through belongs to a cold highland climate. Seeing Kohechi vertically, even the lowest point is about 200 meters above sea level except Hongu-cho (Tanabe City) near Kumano-gawa River, and the highest points are Obako Pass (1,220 meters) and Mt. Obako-dake (1,344 meters), therefore, 'distribution of plants by altitude' (Table 1) by the Nara Prefecture history editorial board positions the plants in Kohechi as the plant of hilly terrain, of highland, and of mountain.

The area including Totsukawa and Nosegawa Villages is called the Obako mountains plant region according to plant classification geography. The Obako mountains plant region refers to the area which is surrounded by Totsukawa Valley on the east and by the boundary of Wakayama Prefecture on the south, on the north and on the west; the area is further divided into Obako section and Hatenashi section by Jinno-gawa River. This plant region borders on Mt. Koya on the north and on Kumano on the south, therefore, in those areas, some distinctive plants of the mountains are seen.

Bamboo-leaf oak, akagashi (quercus acuta), konara (quercus serrata), Japanese hornbeam, inuside (carpinus tschonoskii) and sakaki tree (cleyera japonica) grow on the banks of Jinno-gawa River and Kawarabi-gawa River at the foot of Mt. Obako-dake. The area above about 800 meters belongs to the Japanese beech tree zone, and near the top of Mt. Obako-dake, there grow deciduous broadleaf trees including Japanese beech tree, mizunara (quercus mongoloca var. grosseseratta), Japanese hornbeam, yashabushi (alnus firma) and okamenoki (viburnum furcatum), and the trees on the top are stunted by wind and snow. As for low tree, there are rhododendron, some azalea (kobano-mitsuba-tsutsuji) and some cornel (koya-mizuki); as for herbs, there are tsuru-shiroganeso (stoloniferum), mountainous peony and a lot of flowers belong to the orchid family. As the elevation decreases, there increase the plantations of Japanese cedar and hinoki, and the secondary forest of Japanese red pine, ryobu (clethra barbinervis), konara (quercus serrata) and so on which grow after trees of plantations are cut, that is, the landscapes 'created by human beings' are seen.

In the section below Warabio of Hatenashi Pass, an evergreen broadleaf forest extends. On the steep slope from the bank of Totsu-kawa River to the village, kojii (Castanopsis cuspidate), sakaki, oak, asebi (Japanese Andromeda) and ubamegashi (quercus phillyraeoides) grow; and from near Hatenashi Village, there extends a secondary forest of Japanese red pine, konara (quercus serrata), fir tree, southern Japanese hemlock, himeshara (tall stewartia) and honoki (magnolia hypoleuca). In secondary forest at the remains of Yamaguchi-jaya Teahouse, there grow tabunoki (machilus thunbergii) and kakuremino (dendropanax trifidus) which usually grow on a seashore, and it is unknown whether they were brought by birds or residents. The area around Hatenashi Pass has a natural summer-green forest of mainly Japanese beech trees.

In addition, among the plants of Kohechi, koyamaki (Japanese umbrella pine) has a feature as one of the farm products that had been cultivated around Mt. Koya.

Preservation of Cultural Properties

Kohechi was additionally designated on December 19, 2002 as a part of a historical site 'Pilgrimage Route to Kumano' (first registered on November 2, 2000) based on the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Until then the pilgrimage route to Kumano including Kohechi had not been registered by the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, and the registration was planned for reporting the plan of the preservation and management of the site to obtain the recommendation as a World Heritage site. Since it was designated as a historical site, permission of the chief of the Agency for the Cultural Affairs is required to perform activities that change the current condition of Kohechi or influence its preservation. The Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties is not applied to the buffer zone which was specified before the recommendation and the registration as a World Heritage site, however, the zone is protected by other laws and ordinances of the local authority.

And based on the comprehensive plan of the preservation and the management that the Education Boards of three prefectures including Wakayama, Nara and Mie determined after the adjustments by the local education boards and the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the prefectures or the local education boards arranges plans of the preservation for each site and executes them, besides, the government and prefectures appropriate funds and materials for the preservation and the management.