Wakayama Japan – I wanted a good dose of adventure while traveling between Nagoya and Osaka so I decided to visit Wakayama. I’d heard a lot of good things about this city but I didn’t really know what to expect. Wakayama is the capital of the prefecture of the same name and like Nara and Kyoto, it is located in Japan’s Kansai region.
Considering the small size and population of the city, Wakayama will really make you feel like you’re traveling off the beaten path. I went there in April during the spring in Japan and despite it being high tourist season, I saw very few foreign tourists there. Traveling to Wakayama is venturing into a calm and peaceful place where you can discover wonderful nature and developed culture.
We’re going to review some of this beautiful city’s best attractions but let’s first look at the available options when it comes to transportation and accommodation.
Japan’s modern railway network is obviously very developed and although transportation costs are a bit expensive, it’s still the best way to travel around in Japan and therefore to Wakayama too. From Osaka’s Tennoji Station, you can travel directly to Wakayama. The trip lasts a little over an hour and a one-way ticket costs only 860 yen (about $8).
As you can see, the Hanwa line is a JR line and is therefore covered by your JR Pass if you have one. Otherwise, there is also the Kansai Pass which, as its name suggests, allows you to travel throughout the Kansai region without restrictions.
As far as transportation in Wakayama is concerned, I rented a bicycle at the hostel I stayed in to be able to move around the city. It was more than enough to visit the 10 places I’m listing below.
If you are traveling on a budget and looking to get the best bang for your buck, I suggest you book at Guesthouse Rico. The hostel is very conveniently located at a walking distance from the Wakayama train station. The staff is also very friendly. They also have dorm beds but if you’re not traveling alone, their double rooms are also great!
If you can afford better accommodation, you can book at the Wakayama Kada Onsen Kada Kaigetsu which is a seaside hotel, just outside the city. The sea view and the indoor and outdoor onsen (natural hot spring baths) are the hotel’s greatest advantages.
It also offers Japanese style rooms and serves a Japanese breakfast (with rice, fish, soup, etc.).
Now you know how to get to Wakayama and where to stay, let’s tour the city together! You’ll need at least two days to complete the following itinerary so plan ahead for that!
If you go over the bridge you see in the picture below, you will cross the Kii River and enter the beautiful park of Wakayama Castle. The blooming cherry trees made it all look magical and I never get tired of looking at the sakura so it was wonderful, to say the least. As you walk further into the park, you will eventually get to the stairs that will lead you to the castle.
The castle was built in 1585 and sustained a lot of damage from wars between Japanese warlords but also because of American bombings during the Second World War. The inside of the castle has been converted into a kind of museum where many historical objects are exhibited.
You can climb to the top floor of the castle to enjoy this beautiful view of the entire city of Wakayama.
If you head south, you can visit the beautiful Gonenji temple. I kind of stumbled on it while riding my bike. It has a very beautiful, lush and flowery garden during the spring.
The shrine of Kamayama is located southeast of the city. Because it is remote, there is a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere there. I didn’t meet any tourists when I visited the shrine. Kamayama is actually a Shinto shrine and is dedicated to the Hikoitsuse-no-Mikoto kami.
Kimiidera is undoubtedly the most beautiful place in Wakayama! It is located on a hill overlooking the city, and the setting is simply marvelous.
It is actually a Buddhist temple that was founded around the year 770 AD by a Chinese monk. You’ll have to climb many (many!) steps to access the temple’s buildings but honestly, it’s well worth the effort. A good hour will be enough to visit the whole temple.
In the far south of the city, you can enjoy the very lively atmosphere of Kuroshio Market. Fish and seafood are sold in the main building of the market so I recommend you go there around lunch time and eat delicious local food! You can even buy food, get it grilled or cooked there and eat it right away. Can’t get fresher than that! 🙂
Next to the fish stalls is where you can buy local fruit and produce. I really loved the oranges and strawberries of Wakayama.
I almost forgot to tell you! If you like amusement parks, there is one right in front of the Kuroshio Market. Entrance is free so you can walk around the park but you have to pay if you want to try the attractions of course.
Exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/V44jWko2TYL2
If you head north, not far from the Kimiidera temple, there’s the beautiful Furobashi Bridge. It was built in 1850 and as you can see, it is quite a picturesque setting so it’s worth visiting. 🙂
Minutes away from Furobashi Bridge, you can visit the Kishu Tochogu Shrine. Like all shrines in Japan, its entrance is marked by a torii (picture above). You’ll then walk along a beautiful path lined with trees and stone lanterns. Climb a few steps and you’re there!
There’s another beautiful sanctuary right next to the previous one, it’s called the Wakaura Tenmangu. I usually try to not edit the pictures I take to keep their actual colors and lights so that you can see the places I visit as they really are. But sometimes, I liked doing just the opposite. 🙂
What do you prefer? Natural or edited pictures? Let me know in the comments below!
As you’re leaving this part of the city, don’t forget to visit the small park that’s sitting in the middle of a pond. It is located between the two sanctuaries I just told you about.
Our visit to Wakayama ends with the following beautiful gardens. The first is the Yoshuien Garden which was built by Harutomi Tokugawa. It has pretty stone bridges, beautiful cherry blossoms and a nice pond that is actually surrounded by the garden itself.
Last but not least is the Bandoko Teien, a seaside garden. If you’re going there on your bike, it might involve some pedaling out of the saddle but as you can see, the beautiful view of the garden is well worth it, don’t you think?
Back in the Edo period, this strategic point was used to watch the entire Wakaura Bay.
This itinerary around Wakayama is over, guys! I hope you liked this blog post and that it will help you organize your next trip. If you have any questions about it, you can ask them in the comments below and I will try to answer as soon as possible.
See you around, friends! 🙂