Wakayama Prefecture is located in the south western part of the Japanese Island Chain and it is the southern most prefecture of the Kansai region. About one half of the Wakayama's boundary is facing the Pacific Ocean. This part of the Wakayama that is facing the Pacific Ocean is called Kii Peninsula. Kii Peninsula is the largest peninsula in Japan.
Wakayama Prefecture has many mountainous ranges and because of the mountains and the proximity of the ocean has created a special weather pattern within Wakayama. This patterns makes Wakayama Prefecture one of the most unique places to visit. The best way to explore the Wakayama's pacific coast is to take the Japan Railway's Limited Express "Ocean Arrow" or "Super Kuroshio" to Shingu or Nachi Katsuura cities. This train ride introduces you to most scenic pacific coast of Japan. Wakayama Prefecture is also recognized as the place where Soy sauce was invented.
When it comes to the subject of famous Temples and Shrines, most travelers only think about Kyoto or Nara prefectures. But in my opinion Wakayama Prefecture is also right there with Kyoto and Nara with the important and sacred places. One of the most sacred places in Japan, "Koyasan" is located in the Wakayama Prefecture. The Koyasan area is the headquarters of the Shingon Sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is also the final resting place of it's founder Monk Kobo Daishi Kukai.
Wakayama Prefecture's Location in Japan
(Photo Courtesy: Prefectural Web Site)
The two of the three major sites of the Kumano Kodo (Kumano Ancient Road) pilgrimage, are located in the Wakayama Prefecture. One is the above mentioned Koyasan area and the second is the Kumano Sanzen. Kumano Sanzen is part of the Kumano region in Kii Peninsula and consists of three very important shrines of Shintoism, they are Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine, Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine and Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine). All sites of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage are recognized as the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.
In addition to the two Sacred Sites of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimages, the Nachi Katsuura area of the Wakayama Prefecture also contains Seigantoji Temple, which is the first Kannon temple that pilgrims visit, in the Saikoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage of the Western Japan.
Wakayama Prefecture also contains some of the greatest Hot Spring resorts (Onsen) in Japan. Most popular are the Atami Onsen, Shirahama Onsen, Hongu Onsen and Katsuura Onsen. Wakayama Prefecture also contains the tallest (or highest) water fall in Japan in Nachi Katsuura city. Called as Nachi Waterfalls, this waterfalls is revered as a Shinto Kami of the Nachi Mountain Range.
Here is a video of this Sacred Nachi Water Falls:
The Nachi Waterfalls is about 400 feet high and flows through the year. Both the Seigantoji Temple and the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine are located in the same area of this water falls.
Follow the link below to explore the temples and shrines of Wakayama Prefecture.