South of Osaka on the coast of the Kii Peninsula you’ll find one of Japan’s most mystical areas, Wakayama prefecture. With a rich culture and history, and so many different Wakayama attractions, from the Kumano Kodo to Wakayama Adventure World, there is something for everyone wanting to visit Wakayama. It’s easy to get to on the JR express train from Shin-Osaka or Kyoto, or by local trains from Namba for a cheaper option.
Wakayama is abundant in nature; from waterfalls, rivers, and mountains, to beaches, onsen, and rock formations. Often considered the spiritual heart of Japan, Wakayama is filled with shrines, including the breathtaking Mount Koya. The prefecture has many of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sacred Sites.
A 90-minute ride on the express train from Shin-Osaka, Wakayama City is often people’s first port-of-call when arriving in Wakayama.
With such great transport links to Osaka and Kyoto, Wakayama City is a popular area for anyone considering living in Wakayama.
One of the many popular Wakayama attractions can be found at the center of the city. Wakayama Castle is a beautiful display of Japanese architecture and a great place to learn about the history of Wakayama. The castle is a lovely place to appreciate the changing of the seasons and Japan’s nature. It’s a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring and the attached gardens are a beautiful area to appreciate the autumn foliage. For anyone planning to visit Wakayama, Wakayama Castle is a 20-minute walk from JR Wakayama Station or a 10-minute walk from Nankai Wakayama-Shi Station.
For anyone who appreciates art, the city is home to the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art, only a short walk from the castle. The museum features hometown Wakayama artists like Banka, as well as Western artists including Picasso and Rothko.
Yuasa, a rural town about 30 minutes away by train, is the home of soy sauce. If you’re in the city and considering what to do in Wakayama, try a trip to Yuasa to try delicious soy sauce and the ambiance of the well-preserved town.
If you’re in Wakayama city and looking for what to do in Wakayama, consider visiting Wakayama Marina City for a day trip, it takes just over 30 minutes on the 121 or 42 bus lines.
Wakayama Marina City
A short bus trip from Wakayama City, you can find Wakayama Marina City. Wakayama Marina City is a resort town built on an artificial island with ocean-view hotels and a relaxing summer holiday feeling.
Visit the Kuroshio-Ichiba Market to enjoy fresh seafood and watch the freshly caught tuna filleting demonstrations. Any foodies near Wakayama Marina City should also check out the Kinokawa Fruits Village to buy fresh local fruits and vegetables.
In Wakayama Marina City you can also find Porto Europa, a European-themed amusement park. With reproductions of famous European sights, it’s a fun sport for people looking to experience the slow pace of European life and thrill-seekers alike
Heading south down the coast of Wakayama is one of Kansai’s most famous resort towns, Shirahama. Packed full of Wakayama attractions, including beautiful beaches and Wakayama Adventure World, it’s a popular spot for anyone wanting to visit Wakayama.
Shirahama is known for its turquoise seas and white-sand beach, imported from Australia. Not only does Shirahama have one of Japan’s most beautiful beaches, but it is also an onsen town, with picturesque onsen baths looking out over the sea.
Shirahama also features some beautiful rock formations. Engestu island is a small rock formation that can be seen from the beach. It’s a beautiful backdrop for sunsets, so if you get the chance, watching the sunset behind the island is a wonderful photo opportunity.
For more rock-based Wakayama attractions, visit the Senjojiki rock plateau, made of soft white sandstone, which is said to look like a thousand tatami mats. On the nearby Shihara coast, there’s another natural wonder, the Torige Caves. Near the caves, you might be able to find fossils of worms, as well as marks from the wave patterns.
Wakayama Adventure World is a zoo, aquarium, safari, and amusement park all combined into one. Wakayama Adventure World has the popular PANDA LOVE,[YI1] the largest panda breeding facility outside of China. With a variety of attractions, Wakayama Adventure World makes a fun day trip for any family thinking about what to do in Wakayama.
A relaxing weekend away in Shirahama is a perfect trip for anyone visiting or living in Wakayama and wondering what to do in Wakayama.
Tanabe and the Kumano Kodo
Tanabe is the second-largest city in the prefecture. It’s further south down the coast and is considered the ‘gateway’ to the Kumano Kodo.
The Kumano Kodo is perhaps the oldest of the Wakayama attractions, drawing pilgrims for over 1000 years. From the 10th century, the Kiiji route[YI2] was used by many as a pilgrimage from Kyoto.
Many people visit Wakayama to experience the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. Walking on the trails is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the surrounding nature and to form a spiritual connection.
The Kumano Kodo passes through forests, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and coastal scenes. There are so many shrines and temples in the area to visit. Mount Koya is one of the beautiful Sacred Sites where you can experience an overnight stay at one of the temples and attend the morning prayers as well as enjoying Shojin-ryori.
Nachi Falls is the majestic waterfall along the Kumano Kodo. It’s Japan’s tallest waterfall, with a 133-meter drop. The waterfall is worshipped as the home of a Shinto deity, with the Hiro Shrine, Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, and Seiganto-Ji Temple nearby.
Wakayama is full of beautiful sights and exciting experiences. In addition to all of these things to do in Wakayama, you can also try out traditional log rafting, fruit picking, digging your onsen, scuba diving, and much more!
If you are considering living in Wakayama, please use this as a guide and explore these areas and beyond. Please visit Wakayama if you get the chance!