Wakayama City has a rich history as a famous sightseeing destination of the Kansai region and many of the legacies and relics of the past still exist today. In Wakayama you can see ancient shrines, visit the majestic Wakayama Castle, swim at the beach, and go to an amusement park all in one place. In addition, the community is outfitted with many modern amenities making Wakayama a perfect place to visit.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi arrived in Wakayama, in 1585, during his quest to unify the country. To protect his interests in Western Japan, Hideyoshi ordered his brother, Toyotomi Hidenaga, to construct Wakayama Castle. In 1600, Asano Yoshinaga arrived in Wakayama, to serve as castle lord. After the Tokugawa family gained control of the government, Tokugawa Ieyasu dispatched his 10th son, Tokugawa Yorinobu, to rule the domain in 1619. Yorinobu's acquisition of the Kishu area solidified the Tokugawa family's three domains of Mito, Owari and Kishu. Wakayama City flourished as the core of the Kishu Tokugawa Domain, which, during its height, netted 555,000 goku of rice.
Upon the abolition of the feudal system in 1871, Wakayama Castle grounds opened to the public for the first time and has since become the symbol of the City.
Characteristic of Edo Period construction, Tenshukaku, Otenshu, Kotenshu, and several turrets, are all connected to form one circular building around a courtyard. The Castle, which before World War 2 was designated a National Treasure, burnt to the ground during World War 2 bombing raids. In 1958, the people of Wakayama rallied to rebuild their beloved castle, constructing a replica of the Edo Period original.
The park surrounding Wakayama Castle can be enjoyed in all seasons, but it is especially popular in the spring during the cherry blossom season, when the park becomes alive with cherry blossom viewing parties which often carry on late into the night.
Located on the west side of Cape Saikazaki, Bandokoro Teien is the preserved garden for the maritime lookout that once existed on this site. The long, peninsula-shaped garden stretches out into the ocean, giving a truly unique view of the ocean. During the Edo period, the feudal lord stationed naval officers here to keep a lookout for the "black ships" of foreign invaders.
Nowadays you can enjoy the beauty of the ocean, while taking in the historical and natural beauty of this traditional garden.
For more information, please contact the Banjyo Garden Office at 073-444-6533.
On the north side of the castle tower and surrounding a part of the inner moat, is the Momiji-dani Teien garden, which is one of only a few remaining Edo period gardens. A walk around its grounds can be enjoyed all year long, whether it is under the fresh leaves of spring, or the golden leaves of autumn. A traditional tea house, ancient stone bridges, and schools of koi, help visitors experience a trip back in time to ancient Japan.
A visit to the Momiji-dani is not complete without a stop at the Koshoan tea house, where you can experience a Japanese Tea Ceremony while enjoying the quiet garden ambience.
For more information on the garden, please call the garden office at 073-431-8648.
The Yosuien garden was built by Harutomi Tokugawa, the 10th lord of the Kishu Tokugawa domain, as an accompaniment to the Nishihama Goten palace residence.
Representative of mid-Tokugawa era gardens, this walk-around style garden features a rare seawater pond within its 33,000 square meter grounds, as well as a traditionally designed bridge that make effective use of both curves and straight lines.
The Yosutei teahouse at the garden provides an opportunity to relax, have some traditional Japanese tea, and truly feel what the Japanese lords must have felt when they sat in the same garden long long ago.
The garden costs 600 yen for adults, 300 yen for children. Park hours vary by season as follows:
April 1 - August 31: 9:00 - 18:00
September 1 - March 31: 9:00 - 17:00
For more information, call the Yosuien Garden Association at 073-444-1430.
Kimiidera Temple boasts a rich twelve-hundred year history and is renowned for its three wells; Shojosui, Yoryusui, and Kishosui, from which pure water springs forth year-round. It is the second stop among the 33 sacred locations in the Kansai Area on the pilgrimage in honor of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
The temple is also famous for being a beautiful place to view early-blooming cherry blossoms. The climb up the 231 stone steps to the main grounds featuring the Muromachi-era Tahoto pagoda, yields a splendid view of Wakanoura and even as far as Awaji Island and Shikoku. Kimiidera is also an ideal spot to relax and watch the sun set over Wakaura Bay.
Kishu Toshogu Shrine was built in 1621 by Yorinobu Tokugawa, the first lord of the Kishu Tokugawa domain, in commemoration of his father Ieyasu. After passing through the crisp air of the entrance path and ascending the 108 steps of "Samurai Hill," you will find the Gongen-style shrine, called the "Nikko of Kansai".
This magnificently crafted building recalls the authority that the Tokugawa Family commanded during the early Edo period. Within the shrine, there are ranma-style carvings called Ranma Chokoku, which according to a shrine legend, were carved by the famous sculptor Jingoro Hidari. The elaborate artistry and vivid colors of the carvings and wall paintings offer a glimpse into the great power that the Tokugawa Family possessed at the time.
Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine is dedicated to Michizane Sugawara who is revered as the spirit of learning and is said to be the god of the Wakaura land. According to legend, Michizane stopped here en route to Dazaifu, after being expelled from the capital.
The view of Wakanoura from the shrine enclosure evokes sensations of what Michizane must have felt at that time. In addition, the brilliantly colored buildings display the majestic and extravagant characteristics of Momoyama Architecture.
This temple was built in 1666 in remembrance of the first legal wife of Yorinobu Tokugawa, the first feudal lord of the Kishu-Tokugawa Domain. The temple was founded by the monk Nichijun at the request of the second feudal lord Mitsusada, and contains many items from the Kishu Tokugawa House.
Awashima-jinja (shrine) is famous for housing the god of the ocean, and as the launching point for the hinanagashi festival.
Every March 3rd, dolls that have been donated to the shrine throughout the year are loaded into specially constructed boats and sent out to sea. It is hoped that the dolls with take with them the sicknesses or problems that would have otherwise affected the children of the donator. Centuries ago, the lords of the Tokugawa house used to have dolls made that closely resembled their own daughters, and from these dolls we can imagine what wealthy children of the era looked like.
As evidence of this shrine's close relationship with dolls, the shrine grounds are literally covered in miniature dolls and figurines, sorted by category. This is a highly recommended stop on any trip to the Kada area.
The deity of innocence and respect for women, Waka is enshrined at Tamatsushima-jinja. Tamatsushima has also been the subject of many songs and poems; cited in various traditional Japanese songs as well as the ancient Manyoushu, a collection of tens of thousands of Japanese poems and literature compiled over a thousand years ago.
The tree gods, Susano-ononomikoto and Ohyabik-onomikoto, contain the seeds for many types of trees and have been worshipped by the Japanese since their descent upon Japan. Idakisou Shrine is famous for its summer festival Wa-kuguri, where participants pass through a large ring Japanese nutmeg and pray for good health.
The Tomogashima Islands have a long history, dating back to ancient times when they were used as a training place for Buddhist aesthetic rites. In the past century, weapons batteries were constructed on these islands, as well as a naval lookout point.
Many of these historical legacies remain existent today as a testament to the islands' rich past. There is a campground, a visitor's center, cliffs, caves, as well as an abundance of wildlife. Tomogashima remains one of the best places in the area to take a day trip to hike around the island and enjoy the outdoors.
The Tomogashima Islands are located just off the Kada coast and are accessible via a regular ferry service that leaves from Kada Port.
From antiquity, the beautiful Isonoura coastline has been close to the heart of the citizens of Wakayama. Recently, Isonoura has seen a rise in the popularity of surfing, body-boarding and other water sports. All year long, the beach draws visitors from all over Kansai who come to enjoy the ocean's wonders.
In addition, there are rest areas, rental shops, restaurants and other stores along the coast, which help to make Isonoura an ideal location for family outings.
Kada lies at the most northwestern point of Wakayama prefecture, and is the closest part of Wakayama City to the Osaka border. Kada is primarily a fishing town, and is known to have some of the best seafood in the city.
In spring, the beaches of Kada often overflow with families with scoopers gleefully searching for shellfish. In summer, Kada draws visitors who go to enjoy a leisurely day at the beach, fishing or participating in marine sports, for which Kada is famous. Furthermore, Kada is also endowed with an amusement park, tennis courts, rest houses, walking paths, and automobile campgrounds.
Since antiquity, Wakaura has been one of the most famous sightseeing destinations in the area. The beauty of Wakaura is alluded to in many poems from the Manyoshu, a collection of poems dating from the 8th century. As a result, many shrines, temples, gardens, and other famous places were established there, complimenting the historical legacy.
Nowadays, Wakaura still remains a vibrant place; a balance of natural beauty, rich culture, and modern amenities. A trip to Wakayama is not complete without a visit to the famous Wakaura area.
Kataonami is a natural jetty, which protects the mouth of the Wakagawa River and features a wide beach and picturesque scenery. At low tide, the shoals become exposed and many adults and children flock to the beach to harvest shellfish.
The other side of the jetty also sees year-round activity, as the beach draws many visitors every year. In addition to the white sand beach and blue-green water, Kataonami also has a fully modern beach house, equipped with changing rooms, coin lockers, showers, and toilets. There are also souvenir stands, and other shops as well as municipal and prefectural parking areas.
Cleanse your mind amidst the warm wind of the Kuroshio Current, while the blue ocean and blue sky seem to extend forever before your eyes. From the lighthouse, which stands atop the cape of Saikazaki, you can gaze upon the twin islands of the nearby horizon or peak into the mid-Tokugawa era gardens which are famous in this area. Saikazaki also offers a wide range of traditional Japanese-style inns, known for their delicious fish cuisine.
The Nanpazaki sightseeing walking path extends from Saikazaki to the fishing port of Tanoura, where along the way visitors can enjoy shoreline fishing and other beach activities. Visitors to Saikazaki will also be charmed by the local atmosphere, with the sound of crashing waves emanating to the deepest reaches of the smallest alleyways, shoreline and boat fishermen dotting the coastline, and a variety of gardens to satiate any aesthetic appetite.
Carefully designed to fit in harmoniously with its surrounding natural environment, Wakayama Marina City sits astride an artificial island in Wakaura Bay, loved since antiquity for its pristine natural setting.
Completed in 1994, July of the same year saw the curtain go up on Marina City's first attraction: a World Resort Exposition hosting over 3 million visitors from around the world. Although the exposition came to an end after 72 exciting days, the first quarter of the same time period ushered in the founding of Porto Europa, an amusement theme park built by the American firm MCA, and the Kuroshio Fish Market, both providing wholesome entertainment for the entire family. Soon thereafter, in July of 1995, the Wakayama Marina City Yacht Club was established. Wakayama's close proximity to Osaka (approximately one hour away) provides the perfect venue for yacht lovers anywhere in the Kansai region.
Furthermore, the island is outfitted with the Royal Pines Hotel, the Kishu Kuroshio Hot Springs, and an ocean fishing park, all within 80 km of Osaka and 40 km of Kansai International Airport.
Porto Europa reproduces the exotic atmosphere of a medieval Mediterranean port town. You can get a taste of traditional Europe through the ancient Spanish Castle and the French courthouse, or by taking a stroll along the alleyways of old Italy. If you prefer modern excitement, the theme park's attractions or special events offer pleasure for all ages.
Every New Year's Eve, a spectacular fireworks display is held to ring in the New Year. The fireworks are great and the atmosphere is romantic-a definite must-see for any visitor to Wakayama.
Kuroshio Fish Market
From exotic fish via the Kansai International Airport to fresh catches by local fisherman, the Kuroshio Fish Market is the largest Fisherman's Wharf-style restaurant in Japan. Take your catch home, or cook it right there, on one of the many charcoal barbeque pits located on the seaside terrace.
Wakayama Marina City's state-of-the-art marina is capable of accommodating up to 1,100 boats, public and private. 440 of those slots are allotted to private individuals, many of which are part of the Wakayama Marina City Yacht Club, which opened in July, 1995. The marina also contains single-berths, facilities to accommodate large cruisers up to 80 feet, and water and sewage facilities.