Discover the home of soy sauce and islands that inspired a pop culture phenomenon
Unlike its neighbor Osaka , Wakayama doesn't celebrate itself with a fanfare of neon lights. Instead, it quietly presents itself as a historical hub offering some of the richest culture, best scenery, and freshest food in the Kansai region of Japan.
- A sampling of fresh tuna at the lively Kuroshio Market
- A taste of original soy sauce from the place of its birth
- A visit to the Tomogashima Islands, a backdrop reminiscent of a Studio Ghibli masterpiece
How to Get There
Wakayama Station is located a 90-minute express train ride from Shin-Osaka Station on the Kinokuni Line.
The Nankai Line runs from Osaka's Namba station to Wakayama-shi station in just over an hour.
Access from Kansai Airport is via a 40-minute train or bus ride on the Nankai Railway or Airport Limousine Bus respectively.
The source of soy sauce
A 30-minute ride down the Kisei Line train tracks from Wakayama City will bring you to the rural town of Yuasa. This photogenic town is as well preserved as its most famous export.
As the birthplace of soy sauce, visitors to Yuasa can enjoy the time-stood-still townscape with a precious taste of the original salty-sweet condiment. You can tour a soy sauce manufacturer and see the soy sauce bubbling in massive wooden barrels.
As fresh as it gets
Kuroshio Market is a must-visit destination for those who like their fish the freshest of fresh.
Hosting an array of restaurants and do-it-yourself barbeque areas, the market offers a wide selection of fish direct from the sea, straight to your plate. The highlight of a market trip is the daily tuna filleting demonstration that takes place three times a day. Watch pros fillet these handsome giants of the sea and enjoy a mouthwatering taste while stocks last.
Islands that inspired Laputa
Visitors to the peninsula can board a 20-minute ferry from the town of Kada to reach the islands of Tomogashima . The islands are an overgrown tangle of green shrubbery scaling the walls of the run-down red brick buildings and ruins of the abandoned military forts.
Fans of Japanese popular culture flock to the island due to its resemblance to the floating island of Laputa in Studio Ghibli's "Castle in the Sky."
House of history
The visually striking Wakayama Castle on its hill was the home of one of the three sub-branches of the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate. Many of the original buildings were sadly destroyed during WWII bombing raids. However, they were faithfully rebuilt. The nearby Wakayama Historical Center provides details of the castle's dramatic history and the prominent figures involved in the region over the centuries.