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WAKAYAMA Prefecture

Area: 4,725 km2
Population: 989 thousand
Region: Kinki
Capital: Wakayama

photo by Kuruman

Wakayama Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Wakayama.
Wakayama is home to Mount Kōya who is home to one of the first Japanese style Buddhist temples in Japan and remains a site of pilgrimage and an increasingly popular tourist destination.
The sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range extend for miles throughout the prefecture and together have been recognized as Japan’s 11th UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Kumano Shrines are located on the southern tip of the prefecture. Tomogashima Island (actually a cluster of 4 islands) is also part of the prefecture.

Wakayama is particularly mountainous and the JR train lines trace the coast, providing breathtaking scenes of dramatic, rocky coastline bordered by lush, green mountains and pastoral small towns.

To the east of Wakayama city is the famous sacred mountain Koya-san, which is easily accessible from Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. Trains from those cities connect to Koya's cable car train.

In the mountainous central area of Wakayama you can find Ryujin, famous across Japan for its hot springs. It's a place of wild scenic beauty, especially during the fall when the leaves change color.

South of Ryujin is Hongu, best known for Hongu-taisha, one of the sacred shrines on the Kumano-Kodo. A riverboat tour down the crystal-clear waters of the river offers views of waterfalls and dramatic rock formations.

On the central west coast of Wakayama, you can find Shirahama , a white sand beach sought after by visitors from all over Japan. Besides the beach, Shirahama is known for having some of the best hot springs in all of Japan.

At the very southern tip of Wakayama is Kushimoto. This is the southernmost point of Honshu, Japan's main island. There is a Marine Park, excellent for snorkeling and diving.

Nachi-katsuura, just to the northeast of Kushimoto, is home to Japan's tallest waterfall: Nachi Falls. Nachi-katsuura is also rich in natural hot springs.
With magnificent green mountains, a 600 km long coast line and a beautiful river between the mountains and the sea, Wakayama’s gorgeous scenery attracts visitors year-round.
Beside the beautiful nature, Wakayama is also home to many historical treasures. The Kumano Sanzan which is a sacred site consisting of three shrines that are distributed 20 to 40 km apart from each other (Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha) and two temples (Seiganto-ji and Fudarakusan-ji), and Mt. Kona also known as Koyasan, have awed people for ages and were granted World Heritage status.

The best place to experience an overnight stay at a temple is a the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism.
By plane
Wakayama City is the closest major city to Kansai International Airport, with easy access by both train and bus.

By train
From Osaka: 40 min from Kansai Airport to Wakayama Station by JR Line (rapid service or Nankai Railway).
From Tokyo: From Tokyo Station, 2 hours and 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station to Wakayama Station, 1 hour by JR Hanwa Line Limited Express.

By bus
40 min from Kansai Airport to Wakayama Station by Airport Limousine Bus.
Wakayama has a humid subtropical climate that is mild with no dry season, constantly moist (year-round rainfall). Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Winters are mild with precipitation from mid-latitude cyclones.
Average monthly temperatures vary by 22.1 °C.
In springtime temperatures climb reaching 18.9°C generally in the afternoon with overnight lows of 9.6°C .
During summer average high temperatures are 29.8°C and average low temperatures are 22.2°C.
Come autumn/ fall temperatures decrease achieving average highs of 22.8°C during the day and lows of 14.3°C generally shortly after sunrise.
In the winter time records indicate temperatures by day reach 10.6°C on average falling to 2.7°C overnight.
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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