Wakayama City Guide

Bandoko Garden in Wakayama, Japan

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Wakayama City Guide & 2-Day Itinerary

Okay, I gotta say it, before we dive into this Wakayama City guide, there is something you really need to know. Wakayama City is one of the most underrated places to visit in Japan. Read that again, book your ticket, and head to Wakayama.

We spent two days in Wakayama City during our three months in Japan and honestly, I wish we could have had even more. There are tons of cultural experiences, divine foodie spots, and far fewer crowds than some of the other popular places to visit in Japan. I hope that I can convey my love for this area enough to encourage you to visit Wakayama City sometime soon! Let’s dive in.


Where is Wakayama?

So, the important thing to know about Wakayama is that there are actually two areas titled Wakayama. First, there is Wakayama Prefecture, which is located in the Kansai Region of Japan. It’s a large area that encompasses a number of cities and towns in an area.

Then there is Wakayama City, which, as the name suggests, is a city located in Wakayama Prefecture. Although the Wakayama Prefecture is utterly amazing too, it’s deserving of its own post entirely. In this guide, we will be focusing on the city of Wakayama.


How To Get To Wakayama City

Wakayama City is actually only a short distance from other popular cities in Japan such as Kyoto and Osaka making it an easy day trip from either. However, although a Wakayama day trip is doable, we highly recommend spending at least two days in Wakayama because there are so many things to do in this area!

How to Get to Wakayama City from Osaka (1 hour)

From Osaka, Wakayama is practically a straight shot depending on what station you leave from in Osaka. There are a number of lines that can get you there, but the most recommended and fastest route to take is the JR Limited Express Kuroshio from JR Shin-Osaka Station to JR Wakayama Station.

How to Get to Wakayama City from Kyoto (1.5 hours)

From Kyoto, you would take the JR Limited Express Kuroshio from JR Kyoto Station to JR Wakayama Station. Though Wakayama City is a little further from Kyoto than Osaka, it is still a straight shot to Wakayama City on this route.

If you have an active JR Pass or Kansai Regional Pass you can use it towards your transportation to Wakayama.


Transportation in Wakayama City

Bikes available at one of the nearby hotels in Wakayama.
Bikes available at one of the nearby hotels in Wakayama.

During our two days in Wakayama, we were still on our Japan road trip so we had a rental car to get around Wakayama. We found parking to be easy and inexpensive compared to other places we had visited in Japan by car. However, if you aren’t driving in Wakayama there are still a number of public transportation options.

Local Buses in Wakayama

Wakayama City has a local bus service that will take you to most of the places we’ve included in this Wakayama City guide. However, most of the attractions are spread out so its best to account for extra time when getting from place to place.

If you have a Kansai Thru Pass you can use it on the city buses. Otherwise, we recommend getting an IC Card to use for public transportation in Wakayama. An IC Card is used for public transportation as well as some shopping and vending machines in Japan.

When using an IC Card for transportation, like the Wakayama City buses, you simply swipe your card when entering the bus and swipe again when you leave. If you want more information about IC Cards including how to add money and use them check out this post.

Bike Rentals in Wakayama

Wakayama is a great city to bike in! There is even a bike lane that takes you from the city center of Wakayama to Marina City (about a 45-minute bike ride). Many hotels offer complimentary or inexpensive bike rentals, but you can also rent a bike at Wakayama Station.


Where to Stay in Wakayama City

Dormy Inn Premium Wakayama

During our 2 days in Wakayama, we stayed at the Dormy Inn Premium Wakayama. We chose the Dormy Inn Premium because we have stayed in a number of their hotels before and although the rooms can be small, we found them to be comfortable.

The location was also another factor for us because it was convenient and offered free parking. Since we had a car during our time in Wakayama, this was an added perk!

Another fun feature of the Dormy Inn hotel chain is they offer complimentary bowls of ramen every evening around 9pm. Yep, you read that correctly, FREE RAMEN.

Manpa Resort

If you are looking for a hotel with the feel of a traditional ryokan, Manpa Resort is an alternative, more luxurious place to stay in Wakayama. There are onsen facilities that overlook the bay and even rooms with private onsen.

Another unique feature of the Manpa resort is the kaiseki dining you can add on with your stay. All of the dining options feature a variety of fresh, local ingredients and that are carefully selected, prepared, and arranged on the plates.

If you can, ask for a room with a view of the bay for an incredible sunrise or sunset. Last, Manpa Resort even offers a shuttle service to the nearest JR Station to make it easy to get to your next destination in Japan.

Look For Other Hotels in Wakayama


Wakayama Itinerary: Things to Do in Wakayama City

Stairs to a temple in Wakayama, Japan
Who needs the gym when there are so many stairs in Wakayama? 😉

While in Wakayama, Logan and I jokingly called Wakayama the “city of stairs” because it seemed like everywhere we went there were hundreds of stairs to climb. So while you might get a nice leg workout and you DEFINITELY need to wear your walking shoes, you won’t be disappointed by these Wakayama City attractions once you finally get there! 🙂


Day One: Wakayama City Itinerary

For day one of your Wakayama itinerary, I suggest going to the attractions that are the furthest away and work your way back towards the city center. Of course, this will all depend on where you end up staying in Wakayama. If you plan to stay in the city center, as we did, at the Dormy Inn Premium Wakayama, the route below will be best!

If you are worried about running short on time, add Wakayama Castle to the beginning of day one or you can even add it to the morning of your second day.


Bandoko Garden

Bandoko Garden in Wakayama
Bandoko Garden

Bandoko Garden was one of our top favorite attractions in Wakayama. The garden itself is beautiful and there are many places to relax, but the views from here are AMAZING. Bandoko Garden is also the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon picnic and there are even barbecue areas available.

Address: Japan, 〒641-0062 Wakayama, Saikazaki, 番所ノ鼻
Hours: 8am-5pm (September-March), 9am-6pm (April-August)
Cost: ¥600/adults, ¥300/children, ¥500 parking fee


Saikazaki Lighthouse

Saikazaki Lighthouse in Wakayama, Japan
Saikazaki Lighthouse in the distance.

The Saikazaki Cape area is one of the most beautiful areas in Wakayama. The Saikazaki Lighthouse is a beautiful place to see a sunset or sunrise or view of the ocean and some small islands.

Address: 809-2 Saikazaki, Wakayama 641-0062, Wakayama Prefecture
Cost:
¥600/adults, ¥300/children


Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine

Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine in Wakayama, Japan
Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine

Be prepared to get your steps in because Wakaura Tenmangu Shrine has a ton of them! But the trek to get to the top is well worth it once you see the temple and the stunning view from above of Wakanoura Bay. The shrine itself is dedicated to the Shinto god of academics.

Address: 2 Chome-1-24 Wakauranishi, Wakayama, 641-0024, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm
Cost: Free


Kishu Toshogu Shrine

Kishu Toshogu Shrine in Wakayama, Japan.
Kishu Toshogu Shrine

Just when you thought that the stairs would be over, think again! Like we said, we’ve dubbed Wakayama the city of stairs after all. The entrance to Kishu Toshogu Shrine is surrounded by a tunnel of greenery which causes the vibrant colors of the shrine to illuminate even more.

View from the top of the stairs at Kishu Toshogu Shrine in Wakayama City, Japan.
View from the top of the stairs at Kishu Toshogu Shrine.

Address: 2 Chome-1-20 Wakauranishi, Wakayama, 641-0024, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Free


Tamatsushima Jinja Shrine

Tamatsushima Jinja is a shrine dedicated to the three Waka poetry gods and is often featured in poems and other written works. Behind the shrine is a short path that will take you to the top of Mt. Kagamiyama which offers a fantastic view.

Address: 3 Chome-4-26 Wakauranaka, Wakayama, 641-0025, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost:
Free


Furobashi Bridge

After visiting Tamatsushima Jinja Shrine take a short walk over to view Furobashi Bridge. Furobashi Bridge is a stone arch bridge that was built in 1851 during the order of Harutomi Tokugawa, the 10th Lord of the Kishu Domain.

Address: 7 Chome-4-2 Takajomachi, Wakayama, 640-8135, Japan
Cost: Free


Wakayama Castle

Wakayama Castle in Wakayama, Japan.
Entrance to Wakayama Castle.

Wakayama Castle was constructed in 1585 and like many other castles in Japan was destroyed by fire twice. In 1958 it was restored to its original state and you can now visit a number of exhibitions inside the castle including samurai armor and many historic relics.

View from the top of Wakayama Castle
View from the top of Wakayama Castle

One of the things we loved about Wakayama Castle is the lack of crowds. Many other castles we’ve visited in Japan are often extremely busy, but our experience at Wakayama Castle was anything but. I’m not sure if it was the time of year (we were there during the summer), but whatever it was, we aren’t complaining!

Having fewer crowds gave us time to explore the castle in-depth and take time to read about the history and artifacts. We also found this castle to be similar in looks to Osaka Castle, although not as lavishly decorated on the exterior.

Address: 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama, 640-8146, Japan
Hours: 9am-5:30pm daily
Cost: ¥410/adults, ¥200/children


Ohashi Roka Bridge

Ohashi Roka Bridge and Wakayama Castle
View of Ohashi Roka Bridge and Wakayama Castle.

After visiting Wakayama Castle, stay inside the park area and stop by Ohashi Roka Bridge. Ohashi Roka is a bridge that was constructed during the Edo Period that has a rather unique design. From inside Wakayama Castle park, you can easily view the bridge in front of a stunning view of Wakayama Castle.


Momijidani Teien Garden

Japanese maple leaves in the fall
Japanese maple leaves in the fall.

Next to Wakayama Castle is Momijidani Garden, a beautiful scenic Japanese garden that is known for its vibrant autumn foliage. While at Momijidani Teien Garden, you can also visit Koshoan Teahouse for some green tea and a Japanese sweet. Perfect for resting your legs for a few minutes before heading on to all the stairs!

Address: Japan, 〒640-8146 Wakayama, Ichibancho, 3
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Free


Prefectural Museum of Modern Art

The Prefectural Museum of Modern Art has a number of contemporary and modern art pieces from artists in Wakayama and other parts of Japan and other countries as well. If you are an art lover this is worth adding to your Wakayama itinerary, otherwise, I would suggest adding it only if you have time at the end of the day.

Address: 1 Chome-4-14 Fukiage, Wakayama, 640-8137, Japan
Hours: 9:30am-5pm daily, Closed Mondays
Cost: ¥340


Day Two: Wakayama City Itinerary

While day two of this Wakayama itinerary might seem a little lighter than day one, Kishi Train Station is a little further out so there will be more travel time this day.

Another factor to consider is that Wakayama Marina City area will definitely take up a lot of time! This will also give you some wiggle room if you need to add something from day one of the itinerary.


Tama Museum Kishi Train Station

You might be wondering why we would suggest visiting a train station of all the places to visit in Wakayama. I promise you it’s for a good reason. At the Kishi Train Station, you can pay respects to a very special icon in Wakayama, Tama, the stationmaster cat.

Not long ago the Kishigawa railway was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy until Tama showed upbringing her endearing charm. Curiosity spread and commuters and tourists from around the world came to see the cat that adopted a train station as its home. Thus, Tama was dubbed the stationmaster of Kishi station in 2007 even wearing an adorable cat-sized stationmaster hat. 

Sadly, Tama passed away in 2015 but her legacy at the Kishi station lives on. Now at Kishi station, the entrance of the train station was remodeled to look like a cat’s face and you can ride on the adorably decorated train cars, all designed in honor of Tama and also inspired by the Wakayama countryside. They include details like wooden blinds and floors, photos and depictions of Tama, and even a library of cat books to peruse. 

After a period of time, a new stationmaster cat was appointed named Nitama which you can visit 5 days a week and also enjoy a visit to Tama’s cafe and souvenir shop.

Address: 803 Kishigawacho Kodo, Kinokawa 640-0413 Wakayama Prefecture
Hours:
Friday-Tuesday 10am-4pm (Nitama’s Hours)
Cost: ¥800/adult, ¥400/child for a train day pass


Kimii-dera Temple

Kimii-dera Temple dates back to 770 thus it is one of the most important temples in Wakayama. It is not only a beautiful temple to visit, it also has an amazing view of Wakanoura Bay and is the first location known for cherry blossoms in the Kansai region of Japan. 

Being that it is also one of the largest temples in Wakayama, prepare to spend a little extra time here. We found this temple to be very peaceful, and though the steps to get to the top are a feat (we stopped counting at 200!) it’s well worth it.

Address: 1201 Kimiidera, Wakayama, 641-0012, Japan
Hours: 8am-5pm daily
Cost: ¥200


Kuroshio Market

Tuna show at Kuroshio Market in Wakayama Marina City.
Tuna show at Kuroshio Market.

When first arriving at Wakayama Marina City our first stop was Kuroshio Market to grab some lunch and witness a tuna action. Though the tuna demonstration at Kuroshio Market is more low-key than that you might find at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, it’s still a really cool experience to have when visiting Wakayama City. 

Uni (sea urchin) for sale at Kuroshio Market in Wakayama Marina City.
Uni (sea urchin) for sale at Kuroshio Market.

After we watched the tuna auction we decided to purchase some of the fresh tuna from one of the stands for lunch as well as a few other side items. There are a number of tables that you can sit at open to the public to grill or eat the items you purchased from Kuroshio Market.

A selection of goods you could take home at Kuroshio Market in Wakayama Marina City.
A selection of goods you could take home at Kuroshio Market.

After eating, we decided to do a little shopping, which we highly recommend because there are a number of food-related souvenirs or gifts available for purchase.

One thing Wakayama is known for is ume (plums). There was a large assortment of plum treats for purchase at Kuroshio Market in Wakayama Marina City.
One thing Wakayama is known for is ume (plums). There was a large assortment of plum treats for purchase at Kuroshio Market.

Address: 1527 Kemi, Wakayama, 641-0014, Japan
Hours:
10am-5pm daily
Cost:
Free


Porto Europa

Porto Europa amusement park in Wakayama, Japan.
Porto Europa

After getting lunch at Kuroshio Market, we walked a few steps over to Porto Europa. This amusement park will make you feel like you accidentally got on a plane is a theme park that resembles the romantic streets of France, Spain, and Italy.

Porto Europa amusement park in Wakayama, Japan

Unlike many other amusement parks, it is free to enter the park or you can pay for a pass to enjoy the rides or games. We loved taking photos here, exploring the shops, and playing arcade games while at Porto Europa. Overall the charm of this amusement park is worth checking out for this Wakayama City guide. 

Porto Europa in Wakayama, Japan.
Porto Europa is certainly picturesque!

Address: 1527 Kemi, Wakayama, 641-0014, Japan
Hours: 10am-5pm daily
Cost: Free to visit the park, ¥3,800/adult ride pass, ¥3,200/child ride pass


Kinokuni Fruit Village

Kinokuni Fruit Village
Citrus fruits at Kinokuni Fruit Village.

After Porto Europa, we walked yet again, just a few steps over to Kinokuni Fruit Village where you can sample a variety of fresh fruits from Wakayama Prefecture.

Shaved ice with pear and vanilla ice cream
Shave ice with pear and vanilla ice cream.

Wakayama Prefecture is known for its citrus fruits so don’t miss out on trying some! Of course, there are more than just samples at Kinokuni Fruit Village, there are fresh fruits and vegetables available for purchase too and not to mention, shops where you can enjoy some yummy ice cream made with milk from nearby Kurosawa Ranch or fresh fruit juices. 

Address: 1527 Kemi, Wakayama, 641-0014, Japan
Hours:
10am-5pm daily
Cost:
Free


Places to Eat in Wakayama City

Of course Kuroshio Market at Wakayama Marina City is one place to get something to eat and we highly recommend doing so while you’re there, but Wakayama also has a variety of other foods they are known for!

Ide Shoten

Ramen from Ide Shoten in Wakayama, Japan.
Ramen from Ide Shoten.

Wakayama ramen also called “chuka soba,” is some of the most notable in Japan. I mean, ramen is so notable in Wakayama, they even have a whole taxi service that is dedicated to taking tourists on a ramen tasting tour. So it’s safe to say that you have to enjoy a bowl of ramen while in Wakayama. 

One of the places to enjoy Wakayama ramen is Ide Shoten. Ide Shoten is a tiny, family-owned and operated shop that has consistently won a number of awards for its ramen. With such prestige, the line for a seat can get pretty long, so we felt lucky that we were able to get right in when we visited!

At the small bar table and stool, there were freshly prepared mackerel sushi rolls, a Wakayama specialty, to eat as an accompaniment with a bowl of ramen. We can say confidently, Ide Shoten lives up to its name and the hype surrounding its ramen. The broth is rich and creamy, the noodles are delicately cooked, and the chashu pork melted in the mouth.

Address: Japan, 〒640-8329 Wakayama, Tanakamachi, 4 Chome−84
Hours: 11:30am-11:30pm daily, Closed Thursdays


Wakayama was definitely one of the places we found most memorable from our time in Japan. We hope this Wakayama City guide helps you on your visit to Wakayama!


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Wakayama City is one of the most underrated places to visit in Japan. There are tons of cultural experiences, divine foodie spots, and far fewer crowds than some of the other popular places to visit in Japan. In this travel guide you'll find places to stay, dine, and visit in Wakayama City and a complete 2-day itinerary including where to find the best Wakayama ramen.

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