Wakayama – the city of world heritage sites, beautiful and ancient land with thousands of years of history of the land of the rising sun, which brings hidden beauty, beautiful landscapes, captivating places attract many visitors, a destination worthy of the name “The sleeping beauty” of Japan. Wakayama is adjacent to two famous cities, Osaka, which is famous for Osaka Castle and Kobe – home to the most expensive beef in the world but not so Wakayama is overshadowed. Wakayama has a lot of interesting things such as the home to the best ramen noodles in Japan, the Nachi-no-Ogi matsuri (Nachi Fire Festival) with over 1.700-year-old and countless onsen (hot springs) … that will surely make you fascinated. So, is Wakayama worth visiting? Let’s discover one of the most beutiful destinations in Japan through our Wakayama travel blog with the fullest Wakayama travel guide for a wonderful trip to Wakayama for the first time from how to get there, best time to visit, best places to go and top things to do … to find out the answer!
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Wakayama overlooking the sea so the natural landscape is very beautiful. Waka Bay or Hinomisaki Cape are beautiful spots to watching sunset, loved by many people. Kuroshio fish market in Wakayama Marina City on Wakayama artificial island is a place to sell locally caught fresh fish and seafood. There is an area for selling products and an area to try free food at the market, so please feel free to explore.
Coming to Wakayama is coming to the large Wakayama Castle, the symbol of Wakayama city, coming to the delicious fresh tuna sushi pieces, temples associated with the legend of love and coming to a train station where the station chief is a very interesting and unexpected character… Don’t hesitate to come to Wakayama to discover “Japan’s sleeping beauty” by yourself !!!
Wakayama guide: When is the best time to visit?
The best time to travel to Wakayama is in the spring when cherry blossoms bloom from March to May. The weather is warm and the temperature is not too high, ranging from 12 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius, sometimes with slight rain, very suitable for sightseeing. Spring is also the peak tourist season in Wakayama.
Summer begin from June to August with the highest temperature up to 33 degrees Celsius, this is the festival season in Wakayama. In every July is the time of the Nachi fire festival. Nachi is one of the oldest and most sacred festivals in Japan, with more than 1.700 years of history. At this festival, hundreds of Japanese boys will bring 12 torches, each weighing 50 kg, running down steep steps in the cheers of many people.
If you want to see the red and yellow leaves of Japanese autumn, let’s go to Wakayama in the fall from September to November, with a heat background ranging from 15 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. In the fall, visitors come here is also very crowded so room rates is slightly high.
Winter (December through February), often with snowfall, in January the temperature may drop below 2 degrees Celsius, this is the low tourist season in Wakayama.
Wakayama travel guide: How to get to Wakayama?
To get to Wakayama City, the most economical way is to travel by Kuroshio Express train from Shin-Osaka station, the train runs every hour and you can use Japan Rail Pass, with travel time of 1 hour and costs about 2.660 yen ($24.65). In addition, at Kyoto station, there also are 5 speed trains per day to JR Wakayama Station, which costs about 3.660 yen ($33.92), travel time is 90 minutes.
It takes about 40 minutes to get from Kansai International Airport to Wakayama Station by bus and every 30 minutes to 1 hour has trip.
Wakayama travel blog: Getting around Wakayama?
There are six train lines in Wakayama Prefecture, this is a convenient and reliable way to get around Wakayama, to major tourist destinations at an affordable price. Every 6 minutes there will be a train and the ticket starts out at around 190 yen, gradually increasing if you go further.
You can also take a bus to Wakayama from Kansai Airport and back. Buses pick up passengers along Wakayama Line, with one-way tickets is 1.150 yen ($10.66) for adults and 580 yen ($5.38) for children. You can also buy round-trip tickets valid within 14 days for 2.100 yen ($19.46) for adults.
Koyasan is also a popular area for tourists in Wakayama. It has its own bus system with 3 lines to different attractions in this area. You can buy a one-day pass at Koyasan Station for 830 yen ($7.69), with unlimited the number of times you use the bus in a day.
If you getting to Koyasan from Osaka, you can buy Koyasan World Heritage Ticket for 2.860 yen ($26.51) including round-trip train tickets from Osaka, unlimited bus use around Koyasan and discounts of admission tickets at some attractions in the Koyasan area. The World Heritage Ticket is great for two consecutive days. You can buy here.
To save money, you can buy Wakayama Day Pass (Wakayama Kumano Pass), unlimited number of traveling times a day in Kumano area at price of 8.500 yen ($78.51) for 3 consecutive days from the starting date of its use, apply for both bus and train and also discounts at several tourist attractions. You see the details and can buy here.
You can also rent a car in Wakayama if you are over 18 and have a valid international driver’s license. The cost of renting a car is about 5.000 yen ($46.34) a day and it can save you a lot of time when exploring Wakayama’s countryside. The cost of renting a car in a day seems quite high but if you long run, it will save a lot of money and you no need to worry about trains, buses or taxis.
Wakayama travel blog: Where to stay?
Stay at a castle hotel in Wakayama
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Wakayama and Wakayama Tokyu Inn are two of the best castle hotels you can choose stay while traveling in Wakayama. It is interesting to rest in such a unique space, especially at castle hotels, you will get a great view of the surrounding scenery. Castle hotels also often hold exhibitions about the city’s history, often selling tickets at very low prices and most are free to the public.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels in Wakayama with good ratings and reviews from $29/night you can refer to.
Dormy Inn Premium Hot Spring Hotel (Address: Japan, 〒640-8331 Wakayama, Misonocho, 3 Chome-36 / Phone: +81 73-402-5489), a 3-star hotel with room rates from $46/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Granvia Wakayama Hotel (Address: Japan, 〒640-8342 Wakayama, Tomodacho, 5−18 / Phone: +81 73-425-3333), a 4-star hotel with room rates from $51/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Wakayama Urban Hotel (Address: 1 Chome-2-9 Kuroda, Wakayama, 640-8341, Japan / Phone: +81 73-475-1088), a 3-star hotel with room rates from $40/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Comfort Hotel Wakayama (Address: 5 Chome-34番1号 Tomodacho, Wakayama, 640-8342, Japan / Phone: +81 73-426-8911), a 3-star hotel with room rates from $50/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Guesthouse RICO (Address: 5-6, Shintori, Wakayama, Wakayama, Japan, 640-8111 / Phone: +81 73-488-6989), a top rated 2-star guesthouse with room rates from $50/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Wakayama Kada Onsen Kada Kaigetsu (Address: 1905 Kada, Wakayama, 640-0103, Japan / Phone: +81 50-3163-0015), a 3-star hotel with room rates from $66/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Manpa Resort (Address: 2-10 Shinwakaura, Wakayama, 641-0023, Japan / Phone: +81 73-444-1161), a 4-star hotel with room rates from $188/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com).
Wakayama Marina City Hotel (Address: 1517 Kemi, Wakayama, 641-0014, Japan / Phone: +81 73-448-1111), a 4-star hotel with room rates from $76/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Wakayama travel guide: Best places to visit and top thing to do in Wakayama
Wakayama Castle – The symbol of Wakayama
Wakayama Castle is built on Mount Torafusuyama (49m high) in the center of Wakayama City and is owned by the Toyotomi Clan and is also the clan that owned Osaka Castle before.. Wakayama Castle is also known as Torafusu-jo because it is located on Mount Torafusuyama. The watchtower in the castle is the symbol of Wakayama city. The beautiful white-grey watchtower stands out on the tree-covered Torafusuyama mountain, so it is called Hakua-jo.
However, during the Meiji period, Wakayama Castle was destroyed and became a park for the people. In World War II, once again the Wakayama Castle was destroyed by the war, the whole castle was almost burned down and later restored and had its present shape.
The most prominent in the Wakayama Castle complex is the watchtower. The entire of white-gray watchtower present on the Torafusuyama mountain covered with greenery create the beauty of the whole Wakayama Castle. Standing on the tower, you can see the entire city of Wakayama, see the Kinakawa River flowing through the north of the city. Under the tower is an area familiar to the people here because it is a place to play, camp and relax.
In addition to the famous watch tower in the castle, there are many places for tourists to visit. In the north of the castle is a traditional Japanese garden. Especially, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy Japanese tea ceremony at the tea ceremony room in the garden. While sipping tea, and enjoy some traditional Japanese cakes in the traditional garden, you will feel like a genuine Japanese people.
Visiting Wakayama Castle, you should not miss the opportunity to cross the Ohashi Roka bridge. The bridge crosses the small moat to enter the garden but is dubbed the strangest bridge in Japan. Because from the outside you will not be able to see it, especially the bridge is tilted at an angle of 11 degrees so if you want to pass the bridge, you have to leave your shoes and and cling to the bridge railing.
In the south of the castle, there is also a zoo where many different animals live and there is an area for birds. This is also the favorite zoo of children and residents in Wakayama, especially everyone is free to enter without any payment.
Traveling in Wakayama, you definitely must visit Wakayama Castle because this is the place where you can observe the whole scene of Japanese “sleeping beauty”, but be aware of the opening time of the castle because there are days when Wakayama Castle will be closed. Wakayama City’s periodic holidays are from December 29 to December 31 and from July 20 to August 31.
Address: 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama, 640-8146, Japan
Phone: +81 73-435-1044 / 350 yen
Built by: Toyotomi Hidenaga
Admission: 350 yen
Koyasan Danjo Garan (Sacred Temple Complex)
Koyasan is famous as a thousand year old Buddhist temple in Wakayama. Built over 1.200 years ago – in 816, Koyasan was the temple of the mysterious Shingon Buddhist lineage passed into Japan by Kobo Daishi and he was also one of the revered religious figures in Japan.
The meaning of Koyasan is thousands of stone monuments at Okunoin and the Kongobuji temple were built to commemorate the 1.150 years Shingon was transmitted into Japan, the surrounding monuments Koyasan have created the mystery of this place and are Unesco recognized as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
Located on Mount Koya, one of Wakayama’s high mountains, coming to Koyasan is coming to the primeval forests, sacred mountains and experiencing the beauty of nature throughout the road lead to Koyasan Temple.
Koyasan is the town located on the side of the sacred mountain of Koya in Wakayama with a population of up to 3.000 people. In 2004, Mount Koya was recognized as a world heritage by UNESCO. On the top of the mountain there is Fudoin temple that allows visitors to stay overnight, Fudoin temple is 52 of 117 temples in Koyasan allowing visitors to stay overnight.