What to Do in Wakayama City, Japan

Wakayama Castle is perched atop a mountain overlooking the city
Wakayama Castle is perched atop a mountain overlooking the city | © YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo

Wakayama City is just an hour south of downtown Osaka by train. It’s located in Wakayama Prefecture, a mythical place characterised by beautiful beaches, ancient pilgrimage trails and picturesque onsen villages. Discover the best things to do there with this guide to Wakayama City.

1. Take a stroll around the seaside Saikazaki fishing village

Architectural Landmark

Saikazaki, Japan.
© YUUSUKE WAKEBE / Getty Images

At first glimpse, Saikazaki, a fishing village built into mountains overlooking the ocean, conjures up images of Mediterranean life. Located in Wakaura, a seaside district home to pristine beaches, mountain hikes and fresh seafood, Saikazaki and the surrounding areas are magical places. The views from the winding streets are spectacular, and an aimless wander can easily take visitors through lush green forest tunnels and ancient temples. Wakaura is also home to a weekend fish market, tropical beach retreat Bagus and the Takozushi Mountain hike and viewpoint.

2. Explore the abandoned military ruins of Okinoshima

Architectural Landmark

Priest Hikes Up a Mountain on the Island of Okinoshima Fukuoka, Japan.
© Everett Kennedy Brown / EPA / Shutterstock

Once a military stronghold, Okinoshima is now a great place for exploration and camping. During World War II, a secret military base was placed on Okinoshima, and the island was removed from maps and records. The base was never used and now lies abandoned, being slowly engulfed by nature. The red brick buildings strangled by vines and overgrown plants resemble scenery from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, a beloved Studio Ghibli film. It’s a great place to take enchanting photos. Okinoshima is accessible by a short ferry ride from Kada Port, a short walk from Kada Station in Wakayama.

3. Visit historic Wakayama Castle

Historical Landmark

Wakayama Castle in Japan
© YAY Media AS / Alamy

Perched on top of a mountain and overlooking this lovely city is Wakayama Castle. Similar in style to Himeji Castle, Japan’s most beloved, this structure burned down during WWII but was reconstructed through fundraising efforts of the locals. Wakayama Castle and the surrounding grounds are much smaller than those of the nearby Osaka Castle, but it’s a lot less crowded and more tranquil. Nishinomaru-Teien Garden, especially beautiful in autumn, houses a teahouse where you can get matcha to sip on while you roam through the scenic foliage. The castle is conveniently located near the city’s hub station, which has plenty of dining and shopping options.

5. Make a pilgrimage to two of the city’s most important shrines

Shrine

Kishu Toshogu Shrine and Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine are two of the most visually striking in the city, if not the whole country. To reach either, visitors must climb steep stairs, making the ascent feel as epic as a real pilgrimage. You will truly be walking in the footsteps of pilgrims of ancient times, as both shrines date back hundreds of years. Kishu Toshogu enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan’s first and most famous Shogun. Wakaura Tenmangu is dedicated to the god of academics. Both are breathtaking and offer panoramic views. The two shrines are located a short walk from each other and the Wakaura beach area.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article