Positioned where the Kino River meets the Pacific Ocean, Wakayama is a historic city topped by a reconstructed 16th-century castle. It’s home to a modern art museum and an ancient Chinese Buddhist temple and is on the doorstep of the sacred Koyasan mountain.
Things to do in Wakayama
Built by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1585, the reconstructed Wakayama Castle is perched on a small hill surrounded by the picturesque Nishi-no-Maru Garden. Admire the samurai weaponry and Edo-era armour displayed in the castle keep and soak up the scenic views across Wakayama from its tower.
Directly opposite the castle is the Wakayama Prefectural Museum, which exhibits a diverse range of artefacts detailing the history and culture of the region. It lies adjacent to the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art where you can peruse an impressive collection of contemporary Japanese works and international pieces.
Climb the 231 stone steps that lead to the main hall of the Kimii-dera temple, which was founded in 770 AD by the Chinese monk, Iko. It’s renowned for its three wells and large number of Buddha images, as well as being a popular cherry blossom viewing destination in spring.
Go hiking along the forested slopes of Koyasan, a sacred mountain where the Shingon Buddhist sect was first introduced to Japan in 905 AD. Explore its secluded temples and mausoleum designed for the sect’s founder, Kobo Daishi, as well as the moss-covered cemetery where feudal lords and samurai are buried.
Getting around Wakayama
Wakayama is located a one-hour train ride from Osaka and 1.5 hours from Kyoto. Buses travel throughout Wakayama, while the city can also be explored by bicycle.