50 Things to Do in Wakayama
Wakayama is the prefecture west of Osaka and bordering the Pacific Ocean. There's so many spiritual spots that you can visit, from temples, shrines, pilgrimage roads, and hot springs. Here are 50 recommended spots in Wakayama that you can visit to add historical and natural charm to your trip.
Sep 12 2015 (Sep 09 2020)
Since ancient times its picturesque scenery has been very popular, and in recent years its sightseeing areas have also grown in popularity!
Here are 50 recommended spots in Wakayama that you can visit to add historical and natural charm to your trip.
1. Mt. Koya (Koya-machi, Ito-gun)
As one of Japan's three sacred mountains, this is a power spot that any visitor to Wakayama can't miss. It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2004, and recently its popularity among foreign tourists has been increasing. It was given 3 stars in the Japanese version of the Michelin travel guide.
2. Okunoin (Koya-machi, Ito-gun)
This is a historical landmark and World Heritage Site where Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai) is enshrined. The road approaching the shrine is lined with trees that are around 700 years old, and in the cemetery members of the royal family, of the imperial court, daimyo, and military commanders have their tombs and grave markers here for a total of more than 200,000 graves. It's such a sacred place that it's said that "the Okunoin is not a place of the world of humans."
3. Wakayama Castle (Wakayama)
The huge three-story castle tower was originally built in 1585, and the current one was reconstructed in 1958. It's constructed on the summit of Mt. Torafusu, and the huge panorama of all four corners of Wakayama unfolds beneath it. There is also a zoo inside the castle. It costs 200 yen for children and 410 yen for adults to enter.
4. Kumano Kodo (Tanabe-shi)
Kumano Sanzan is the term referring to the three Grand Shrines, all of which are in Wakayama. The Kumano Kodo are a pilgrimage roads that were opened to allow both Shinto and Buddhist pilgrims to easily get to all three. Kumano Kodo is a general term for all five of the routes, which are individually named Nakahechi, Kohechi, Ohechi, Iseji, and Kiiji. The most popular route is the route that goes from Hosshin Monouji to Kumano Hongu Taisha. It has resting areas, and the stone paving left over from the ancient road as well as the terraced rice fields makes for a wonderful atmosphere.
5. Kumano Sanzan (Tanabe-shi)
As mentioned, "Kumano Sanzan" is a phrase referring to the three Great Shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha. Kumano has been revered as a special area that's enshrined many gods from ancient times. In the rugged mountain range that straddles Wakayama, Nara, and Mie prefectures, the sacred grounds of Mt. Koya and the Kumano Sanzan were brought into existence. If you want to have a spiritual experience, walking on the ancient road that connects the Kumano Sanzan and visiting them is definitely one way to do it.
6. Kongobu-ji (Koya-cho, Ito-gun)
This is the head temple of the Mt. Koya Shingon sect of Buddhism and is also a national historic landmark as well as a World Heritage site. The building itself is registered as one of Wakayama's tangible cultural properties. Religious matters are performed here all over Mt. Koya. There are other highlights, such as Japan's largest rock garden, Banryuutei, and fusumae, images drawn on sliding screens. The entrance fee is 500 yen.
7. Tomogashima Hiking Course (Wakayama)
Tomogashima is the collective name for the uninhabited islands (Okinoshima, Jinoshima, Kashima, and Torashima) that are technically part of Kada. On Torashima, you can still find remains of the fort that used to be there from the Meiji era until the end of World War 2. You can take a boat there from Okinoshima, and enjoy camping, fishing, and wandering around the historic landmarks. The most recommended course is the 2 hour one that goes around the fort, the lighthouse, and the observation deck!
8. Umitsuri Park (Wakayama)
This fishing park is inside Wakayama Marine City. Anyone can enjoy fishing here, from beginners to experts. You can fish as much sea bream and yellowtail as you want in the ocean fishing pond, and you can also pay for them to prepare your freshly-caught fish. You can also experience breakwater fishing, so it really is enjoyable for experts who are aiming to catch a large variety of fish.
9. Kada Setonaikai National Park/Miyama Fort (Wakayama)
Just like Tomogashira, there are fort remains here that will make you feel a sense of adventure. Currently, there are three ruins left, but during the war, it's said that it was constructed in order to obstruct warships from invading from Osaka Bay. Inside the park, there are lodging facilities, open lawn space, a campground, a tennis court, and more. The view of the sea from the park is amazing!
10. Shirahama Gyoen (Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun)
If you're going to Wakayama for an onsen trip, Shirahama Gyoen is definitely recommended! At the well-known Shirohama Onsen, they have various buffet courses such as all-you-can-eat crab and all-you-can-eat sashimi, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding the beach, and there are other sights such as Adventure World and Engetsu-shima! If you stay at this hotel, you can enjoy all of what Shirahama has to offer.
11. Shirahama Beach (Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun)
If we're talking about popular beaches in the Kansai area, then this beach is one of the top! The white sand and the beautiful water attracts all sorts of people in the summer. There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy outdoor seafood barbecue, so after you swim, you can gaze at the sea while enjoying the ocean's bounty.
12. Engetsu-tou (Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun)
This little island that has become a symbol of Shirahama is officially named Takashima. You can take a glass boat during the day to get near it. Engetsu-shima is famous because depending on the time of the year and the angle you're looking at it, the sun sets perfectly through the hole beneath the island's arch. In the summer it sets around 6:30, and in the winter around 4:30, so aim to get there around those times.
13. Adventure World (Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun)
At this theme park, both children and adults can enjoy interacting with animals. In Pandaland, you can meet pandas, you can see land animals in Safari World, and you can watch sea animals perform in Marine World. You can also enjoy the carnival rides in the Playzone, among other activities. The entrance fee is 4100 yen for adults, 3700 yen for seniors 65 and older, 3300 yen for teenagers, and 2500 yen for children.
Shionomisaki is Honshu's southernmost point and it's part of the town of Kushimoto. From the observation deck on Shionomisaki's sightseeing tower, you can gaze upon the verdant grass, Shionomisaki's lighthouse, the sea view, and on fair weather days you can even see the World Heritage sight of the Mt. Nachi mountains. There is a restaurant inside the tower so you can enjoy local meals using Kushimoto tuna.
15. Hashigui-iwa (Kushimoto-cho, Higashimuro-gun)
This rock formation in Kushimoto includes more than 40 pillar-like stones of various sizes stretching for about 850 meters. It's officially registered as a national scenic sight. From May to November, since the sun rises through the gaps of the stones, it's a very popular spot for photography buffs.
16. Daimonzaka (Nachikatsuura-cho, Higashimuro-gun)
Daimonzaka is a cobblestone staircase that's part of the Kumano Kodou, and it leads to the sacred ground of Mt. Nachi. It's about 600 meters long. Between the Furigasebashi, said to be the entrance way to sacred ground, the 800 year old Meotosugi trees at the entrance of the staircase, and the spiritual atmosphere, it's considered a power spot for many people.
17. Kumano Nachi Taisha (Nachikatsuura-cho, Higashimuro-gun)
Many people gathered here since ancient times because it's the center of religious beliefs, and now many pilgrims continue to make the journey. This is one of the shrines famous for being part of the Kumano Sanzan. It was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2004. Every July 14th, they hold one of Japan's biggest fire festivals, the Nachi-no-Ougi Matsuri.
18. Kumano Hayatama Taisha (Shingu-shi)
The era when this temple was erected is actually unknown. It's also part of the Kumano Sanzan. In July 2004, it was registered as a UNESCO World Culture and Heritage site. Throughout the year they hold various Shinto rituals.
19. Kamikura Shrine (Shingu-shi)
This shrine sits on Mt. Kamikura, a mountain near the southern tip of the island in an enclave. Seeing the miraculous rock, Gotobiki-iwa, is worth making the trip. However, making your way up the stone steps to reach it is rather difficult, so please take note. It's about a 15 minute walk from Kumano Hayatama Shrine to the foot of Mt. Kamikura.
20. Kumano Hongu Taisha (Tanabe-shi)
Kumano Hongu Taisha is the third of the Kumano Sanzan. These three shrines in the southwestern part of Wakayama are separated by about 20-40 km but the Kumano Koudou Nakahechi road connects them all.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.