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Wakayama

Not as popular as nearby Kyoto and Nara, Wakayama is nonetheless an excellent destination that provides the temples and history the region is known for as well as excellent access to the surrounding region via a well-connected transport system. Kansai International Airport is the closest major gateway for travelers from abroad, and train lines provide the most convenient access to the city itself.

Wakayama is a great base for the exploring traveler as much of what there is to see is found outside this prefecture capital. The city itself does have the temple of Kimiidera which hosts Japan’s largest wooden Buddha, but it is the mountains that hold the greatest treasures here. The Kumano-Kodo is here, and this is a popular pilgrimage route for Buddhists visiting sacred shrines and temples. The sacred Koya-san is to the east of the city and is conveniently accessible as trains connect to the mountain’s cable car train. Lovers of onsen can visit Ryujin for its favorite hot springs and scenic beauty, and further south from here is Hongu and the sacred shrine of Hongu-taisha. A riverboat tour in this area is well worth the time for the waterfalls and dramatic rock formations. Shirahama provides an excellent beach option, and Kushimoto is where snorkeling and diving can be enjoyed at Marine Park. Nachi Falls, Japan’s tallest waterfall, is located in Nachi-katsuura next to a temple complex, all together making for an amazing view after a pleasant climb to the top.

Be sure to check out the interactive map of Wakayama for information on hotel locations, attractions, and must-see destinations.