Koya-san (Mount Koya) is the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, was opened by a priest Kobo-daishi about 1200 years ago .
It is located in the basin on a mountain with altitude of about 900m and remains a site of pilgrimage and an increasingly popular tourist destination as people flock to see its ancient temples set amidst the towering cedar trees at the top of the mountain.
You can enjoy a hike at Koya-san to follow the way along which possibly monks practicing asceticism walked once
Koya-san was listed on the World Heritage site as "Scard Site and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" in 2004.
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Kushimoto Marine Park is a great stop on your way to Kushimoto. The aquarium section is rather small especially when compared to Tenpozan or Suma aquarium but this place also features a nice little glass bottom boat ride and an underwater observatory. Definately worth a visit if you are into marine animals.
This mixture of zoo and theme park is a great place to have fun especially if you have kids. There is a safari you can take that is worth while but ofcourse not like a real one. The is also a rollercoaster and some other more minor rides for children.
Just a bit of a drive from downtown Wakayama City is Kimiidera Temple. It's part of one of the many temples on the pilgrimage circuit around Wakayama Prefecture. This temple sits up on a hill and allows for a fine view overlooking the city and the sea.
Not too far from Wakayama City is Kokawa-dera Temple. It's a temple that is a stop on a particular pilgrimage passing through Wakayama, as there were some pilgrims visiting on the day I visited. Many families crowd through the pathways here on New Year's Day for the annual temple visit. There's a bit of walking around that you can do around the temple. One direction will lead you to the top of a small hill, where you can get a view of Wakayama. As for the temple, you can actually pay a small fee of 300yen, I believe, and enter the main building. It's dark and old inside, but it's worth a look to just browse around an old off-the-beaten-path temple.
This is not your average whale museum, as you'd expect in a country where whale constitutes a part of some restaurants' menus. In fact, in this particular nook of Wakayama, there are a number of whale specialty restaurants where you can sample this food, which has long been a historical part of the region's diet. Not exactly for those of us who've grown accustomed to protecting the blubbery creatures. At the museum, it's mostly in Japanese, but you can see exhibits about whales biologically as well as their historical and industrial significance to the locals. It feels a bit like an odd whale propaganda museum. The souvenir shop sells whale jerky, curry whale, or raw whale to bring home and cook later. If that's not enough, there's even a killer whale show out behind the museum. It's home also to some sea otters and a small walk-through aquarium. Even though it's a whale museum, I'm not sure it's the kind of place I'd recommend to animal lovers. But it's something to see.
Around the Mt. Nachi-san area are a number of interesting sights and scenic viewpoints. The most famous is the waterfall, Nachi-no-taki, providing a backdrop for a shrine at the bottom. The view close up is good though perhaps the views up in the hills in the back may provide better spots for viewing. From the hills, you can also visit the 3-story pagoda, Seiganto-ji Temple and get another vantage point of the surrounding area. You can visit other temples and shrines as well as the small shops selling famous goods from the area.
Wakayama is full of onsens (spas and hot springs). This much, most people in Japan know about this place. Kawayu Onsen is special even among all those. Where else can you dig your own spa by the river? Well right here. Right alongside the freezing river, you can soak in your own outdoor spa. Did I try it? Not this time, but for those who are into that kind of thing will surely get a kick out of it. There are also a number of ryokan (Japanese inns) lining the river in case the desire to stay overnight overwhelms you.
One of the locations comprising of a bigger collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Wakayama area is Kumano Hongu Taisha. This shrine is part of a larger pilgrimage route that covers and extends across Nara, Wakayama, and Mie prefectures. The area in the Wakayama area is particularly scenic with trees, rivers, and hot springs filling the scenery as opposed to the typical concrete and neon. The shrine itself is also in a nice wooded area. To reach the shrine, you climb a set of stairs lined by flags holding people's prayers. At the top of the stairs, you can notice the symbol which also represents Japan's Soccer/Football Association: the three-legged crow. Beyond the top of the steps, you go through another set of gates to reach the shrine, which is hidden behind fences.
Wakayama Castle is famous in Japan as a home of the 3 branches of the Tokugawa family.
From the castle top, the view of the southern coast and the hustle and bustle of Wakayama is said to be one of the most beautiful view in the country.