A pilgrimage—journey to a sacred place—is a special time in the life of travelers, even though they might be seasoned vagabonds. While we frequently enjoy beautiful sceneries and discover fascinating cultures on our trips around the world, only a pilgrimage can take us to a place that is not on Google Maps—to the landscapes of our heart.

By venturing along the ancient trails, following in the footsteps of the countless of pilgrims before us, we can feel a connection between us and the forest, the mountains and villages we see, and the people we meet. There is ample opportunity for contemplation and reflection before reaching  the  final destination, a site of spiritual significance and veneration.

The Three Kumano Grand Shrines on the Kii Peninsula south of Osaka and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the south of Spain are two such sites. The Kumano Kodo (Old Road to Kumano) and the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) UNESCO pilgrimage routes lead to these holy settings.

These places and trails, one in the East and one in the West, are linked not only by a partnership agreement but also in the hearts of the people who have completed the specified routes and required distances for both. These are the Dual Pilgrims!

Dual Pilgrims have collected stamps along the trails and, upon registration and confirmation of their achievement, they proudly received their Dual Pilgrim certificate made of Washi, locally made Japanese paper, and a limited edition pin badge. In Japan Dual Pilgrims are also given the honor to play the taiko drum at the prayer hall of the Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine.

Since the inauguration of the program in early 2015, over 300 people from around the world have become Dual Pilgrims. When will you become one of them?

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More information here.