What’s only an hour by train from Osaka, full of pristine beaches, delicious seafood, ancient architecture, and rarely crowded with tourists?
If you guessed sunny, seaside Wakayama City give yourself a high five!
Located in gorgeous Wakayama Prefecture—a region of Japan known for ancient pilgrimage trails, onsen towns, white-sand beaches, and majestic shrines and temples—it’s hard to believe that tourists often pass over the area’s capital city.
Things to do in Wakayama City
From ancient castles to scenic fishing villages, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Originally built in 1585, the hilltop castle houses samurai weaponry and armor from the Edo Period (1603-1868) and features a panoramic view of the city from the top. The grounds are also home to a stunning Japanese garden famed for its fall leaves.
The “Bay of Poetry” has been famed since ancient times for its inspiring seaside views. Today, visitors go to engage in water sports, sample the local seafood, and find iconic sights like Furobashi, an arched stone bridge.
Kataonami Beach Resort
One of the largest white sand beaches in Wakayama Prefecture, Kataonami is big enough that everyone can find a space to relax amongst the crowds. The 1,200-meter-long stretch is popular amongst swimmers and marine sports enthusiasts.
Located on a hillside overlooking Wakanoura, Kimiidera was founded in 770. It’s one of the highlights of the city, especially during the cherry blossom season.
This theme park was built to resemble a European seaside town. Simply stroll through the cobbled streets or enjoy attractions like carousels, waterslides, and roller coasters. Don’t miss the European-style restaurants either!
The Museum of Modern Art Wakayama
This impressive museum features a collection of both Japanese and Western contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Mark Rothko, and George Segal.
Kishu Toshogu and Wakaura Tenmangu Shrines
We hope you like stairs because these shrines have no shortage. They’re worth the climb, thanks to the view—the sea is visible from one side and the gorgeous shrines from the other. Kishu Toshogu and Wakaura Tenmangu are a five-minute walk apart.
Formerly a secret military base, this remote island chain, just a 20-minute ferry ride away from a port called Kada, is now a popular camping spot, especially for fans of haikyo (ruins).
Beachside getaway or crumbling ghost town?
Remember when everyone wanted to buy an abandoned house for cheap in Japan? One of the largest concentrations of those is in Wakayama City. Despite the many attributes it has going for it, the city’s local population is sparse.
It’s a strange feeling strolling on a crowded beach one minute and through an almost abandoned downtown center the next, but that’s how Wakayama City is.
There’s not much in the way of nightlife or shopping, but if a quiet escape is what you’re looking for, Wakayama City may be the perfect spot.