A few days ago, I took a short half-day trip down to Wakayama city.
From Osaka, it’s really not that far, but considering there are quite a fair amount of other distractions in Kansai (like Kyoto), it’s not somewhere most people would think about going.
Why Go to Wakayama city?
Because there are less people, you’re find that there will be less tourists. It’s a good escape
from the big city and a good rest day from the crowds. You can also kind of see a Japanese city that’s still quite undisturbed by foreign tourism.
If you plan out the day right, and do some good research on what things there are to do, you could quite easily spend a full day there.
How far is Wakayama city from Osaka city?
If you take the Nankai Railway, and get on the Southern Limited Express (there are both
non-reserve and reserve seating) from Namba station, it will take about 1 hour to get to
Wakayamashi Station. From there you can transfer to get to other parts of Wakayama
prefecture to the south.
What is there to do in Wakayama city?
For my short trip, I decided to go to Wakayama castle.
It is probably the most accessible tourist attraction there in the city and probably in the
prefecture. By walking from Wakayamashi Station, it takes about 20 minutes. You can take the bus from the train station to ‘Koen Mae’ as well, which will cut down some time and walking, but I do recommend you walk one part of the way to see how the city is like on foot.
The castle isn’t very big, but you still do have to walk up some flights of stairs to get to the main keep.
From ‘Koen Mae’ bus station, you will effectively be at the front gate. Follow the path and straight towards the (rather depressing) castle park zoo to start your ascend to the main keep.
This path is the wider of the two. There is a back path that is much narrower and steeper.
You will arrive will be rewarded will a view when you get to the main keep entrance.
To enter into the main keep, you must pay 410 yen. This will give you access to a small garden, and inside of the keep walls and inside the main keep building with a view at the top.
Keep in mind that this castle is a reconstruction, not an original structure. Effectively, this means that the inside of the keep is usually turned into a museum, which is the case with this castle.
I think the best part is the view.
You can walk outside on the top floor on the main keep (like in Inuyama castle) and take in a 360 degree view of the city. Since Wakayama city is right by the coast, and surrounded by mountains on the other side, you can get some really great photos on a perfectly sunny day.
After you finish with the keep, I recommend taking the back path down. Instead of turning right to go down the stairs you came from, turn left. That’s the back path. This path is stairs all the way down, but it takes you right by the most iconic spot on the Wakayama castle grounds, Ohashi Roka.
This is a bridge with a roof and walls, dating from the Edo period.
You can walk through this bridge free of charge. Please take off your shoes and carry them with you to get to the other side.
You can end your short trip by resting at the teahouse nearby or stopping at the souvenir shop to get a snack before going back to the station.
I thoroughly enjoyed this short excursion to Wakayama castle. It’s a simple castle, rather easy to climb despite me being unfit, and there were rarely any people at the castle when I visited. Definitely not a must-see item, but definitely a good alternative to some of the more touristy areas. Especially now with the huge influx of tourists in Japan.
I hope you enjoyed my photos and I hope you’ll consider visiting Wakayama castle one day.