Culture of WAKAYAMA/KADA
Wakayama has the bounty of both the sea and mountains, and has everything there you could want from a trip to Japan; tourist spots, gourmet food, and hot springs. In Wakayama City itself is Wakayama Castle, former home of the Kishu branch of the Tokugawa clan, plus other famous historical sites such as Ki Mitsui Temple, then there is the Kada hot springs, bountiful seafood, with bream being a famous product. Being just 1 hour from Namba, Wakayama and Kada is perfect for a day trip from Osaka. There are trains you can catch between Wakayama Station and Kada station, decorated with the local delicacy, a bream, and it is known as the “Medetai Train”.
If you take some more time and get down to Nanki in southern Wakayama, you will be able to see the Kumano Kodo, a pilgrimage path that is a World Heritage Site. Along with being able to experience the mysterious atmosphere of ancient Japan, you can also ease yourself into the hot springs in Nachi Katsuura and relax while reflecting on your travels. It is also possible to enjoy some of the region’s world famous tuna.
“Kino Wakayama” has opened in the Spring of 2020 in front of the Wakayama City station. As well as being a commercial complex where visitors can enjoy local food and shopping, it also includes a hotel, library, office space, and various other facilities. Lumber taken from the forests of Kishu are used, with vast areas covered by glass, making it a new landmark of Wakayama.
Wakayama Marina City
About 50 minutes by bus from Wakayama City station. Wakayama Marina City is one of the best tourist spots in the prefecture. The townscapes of France, Italy, and Spain have been recreated in the “Porto Europa” theme park. The “Kuroshio Market” gives you the opportunity to view the breaking up of a tuna into the various parts, and the Wakayama Marina City Hotel gives you the feeling of being in the South of Europe. Furthermore, you can relax in the “Kishu Kuroshio Hot Spring”. This area is full of opportunities to have fun, eat, and relax.
Wakayama Castle dominates the center of the city and is only a 10 minute walk from Wakayama City station. Wakayama Castle is known to have strong connections with Yoshimune Tokugawa, the shogun at the end of the Edo period, and the archives include many items of interest to students of Tokugawa history that were excavated on the grounds of the castle. The Wakayama Park Zoo is in the castle grounds and entry is free. This is a popular attraction for families with young children where they can get up close to the local breed of dogs, ponies, and the capibara.
Awashima Temple, a tourist destination in Kada, is known for the Hina-nagashi festival (floating dolls) and the prayers for failed needles. Throughout the grounds you can see colorful dolls and the famous lucky cats of Japan. Recently it is getting a reputation as a temple that can help couples get together and to fulfill wishes for romantic love. Don’t forget to try the local specialty “Shirasu-don” available next door to the temple. This bowl overflowing with tiny whitebait is very popular among visitors to Kada.
Tomogashima is about 20 minutes by ferry from Kada Port. This mysterious island is a mixture of abandoned buildings and untouched wilderness that will make you think of an animated film from Studio Ghibli. There are many ruins of buildings from more dramatic times, including gun batteries, fortifications, and magazines. The trees and shrubbery growing through these ruins just increases the air of loss and longing. Apart from being a popular place to play among explorers on a deserted island, it is also popular in Summer as a camping and fishing destination.
Waka-no-ura Bay stretches out to the south of Wakayama City. This bay is mentioned often in the poems from long ago and is well recognized as a scenic place of beauty.
The Kishu Toshogu Shrine, which memorializes Ieyasu Tokugawa, is also a major attraction of the area. It is known as a place to pray ward off bad fortune and to pass examinations, so it is particularly popular in the entrance exam season.