Kumano Kodo mountains

Explore the Wonders of Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama Prefecture (和歌山県 Wakayama-ken) stretches from the center of Japan to the southernmost part of Honshū Island, the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region.The mountains in Wakayama are considered sacred ground and have been a popular pilgrimage site since the ancient times. The area also offers numerous hot springs and rich coastlines lined with cliffs offering spectacular views of the astounding 130 islands that dot the area.

Shirasaki coast, Wakayama

Shirasaki coast, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

Some popular places to visit in Wakayama include the shrines on the ancient pilgrimage routes along the Kii Hantō, the largest Peninsula of Japan.

The sacred trails are still being used for the sacred site “Kumano Sanzan,” the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano, and are part of UNESCO’s designated World Heritage Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range of Japan. The three Shinto shrines are the Kumano Hongū Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and the Kumano Nachi Taisha which is a perfect example of Shinbutsu shūgō, or the syncretism of Buddhism and kami worship.

Pilgrimage route to Kumano Sanzan

Komano Kodo pilgrimage route to Kumano Sanzan.

Shirahama (白浜町 Shirahama-chō) is a resort town in the southern coast of Wakayama Prefecture. It has unique beaches with white sand brought all the way from the shores of Australia. Shirahama is a popular destination for its hot springs. Only two and a half hours from Osaka via the JR West’s Ocean Arrow train service, Shirahama is a hidden jewel unlike any other.

Toretore VillageWithin the picturesque town lies Toretore Village. It isn’t really a village but is like a world of its own. Toretore Village is made up of small bubble-like houses with cobblestone sidewalks.

Toretore Village. | AHLN

The tiny domes are hotel rooms for tourists who want a unique lodging experience. They are furnished with the usual hotel amenities, and a convenience store is located within the village for your everyday needs. It makes for a truly eclectic adventure.