Whether you want a taste of tropical beach life, or traditional temple life, this diverse prefecture has you covered.
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Ogamian Soba

Lunch: ¥1000-1999 - Dinner: ¥1000-1999

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Lunch: ¥1,000-1,999 - Dinner: ¥1,000-1,999

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Lunch: ¥15,000-19,999 - Dinner: ¥15,000-19,999

Hotel de Yoshino

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Located south of Osaka, covering the tip of the Kii Peninsula, Wakayama Prefecture is little known to overseas tourists, despite holding some of the holiest sites, best beaches, and most mouthwatering food in Kansai — no mean feat when up against regional heavyweights including Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe!

Wakayama City is the capital, famous for its castle and top-class local style of ramen noodles: tonkotsu-joyu. Further down the coast you’ll find the top onsen town of Shirahama, which boasts some fantastic baths looking out over the ocean, and a sheer white beach with sand imported from Australia!

While good time beach vibes are a major draw of Wakayama, the mountains at the center of the prefecture take on a very different tone. Here you’ll find Mt Kōya, one of the holiest sites in the country. Chosen as the spiritual home of Shingon Buddhism in the 9th century, the mountain became a site of huge religious importance. Nowadays over one hundred active temples have sprung up around the main complex, with over half offering overnight stays for tourists!

This means you can sample the life of a Buddhist monk for yourself by sleeping in a temple, trying your hand at some traditional arts like calligraphy, and even sampling some of the traditional vegetarian cuisine which fuels the prayers of the abbots and acolytes: Shojin Ryori.

So, no matter if you’re in a group of beach bunnies or budding Buddhists, Wakayama has more than enough to please.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What to eat in Wakayama?
Wakayama produces more plums than anywhere else, and specializes in Wakayama umeboshi (pickled plums). Of course, the temple food of Mt Kōya is unmissable too; try the processed tofu style koyadofu for an authentic taste temple living. Ramen addicts will want to sample tonkotsu-joyu — the local style of ramen — too.
What are the best things to do in Wakayama?
Head along to Shirahama in summer to enjoy nightly firework displays above the pristine sand and rejuvenating onsen. After that, you have to land a spot at a temple stay on Mt Kōya — it’s a totally unique travel experience.
What to do at Mt. Kōya?
This spiritual retreat is one of the best places to see authentic Buddhism in practice. Begin by strolling through the forest to the resting place of Kobo Daishi - Okunoin Cemetery - before heading to Torodo Hall to see its thousand lanterns, and finishing at Kongobuji Temple. If you’re feeling spiritual, why not try your hand at calligraphy and meditation too?
What is Wakayama famous for?
As the majority of Japanese people identify as Buddhist, Kōyasan and its temples are well-known across the country. The prefecture also catches the most Japanese bluefin tuna in the country— expect liberal amounts of this delicious fish on the menu in Wakayama.
What to buy in Wakayama?
A prefecture proud of its produce, many of the best souvenirs from Wakayama are food-based, such as umejio (plum salt): a seasoning made from the vinegar used pickle plums. If you visit any shrines in the area, lookout for Yatagarasu daruma — a lucky-charm doll representing the guardian crow who was said to have led Japan’s first emperor to his capital.
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