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The Great Wakayama Adventure August 2, 2013

Posted by soratobuzou in Travel Log.

The last two weeks of Japan have been crazy, but the peak was probably our adventure into Wakayama, a neighboring state known for its gorgeous beaches and historical sites. We only had two days to explore, but we made the most of it!

The trip was a particularly beautiful experience for me, as I had suggested it on a whim and then put very little planning into it, so seeing it all materialize – and so perfectly! – was surreal. Basically, I spent the whole trip waiting for something we had not accounted for to go drastically wrong. Instead, everything went smoothly, and it was magical.

To be fair, we didn’t start off on the best of notes. As one of the conditions of the wonderfully cheap rail passes we’d purchased for the weekend, we could only sit in unreserved seats on the trains we rode. When the unreserved car of our first train ended up being full, we had no choice but to squeeze into whatever space we could find. Luckily, it ended up being more fun than we’d expected, and seats opened up before we got too uncomfortable.

There was another short moment of panic when we finally got to Shirahama, the beautiful beach town we were staying in for the night. As we were waiting for the bus (which was running unusually late) we received panicked messages from my roomie, who had helped us book the room. Apparently we were supposed to check in by nine, and we were already late. The messages and the tardy bus put the group on edge. We had already given up hope on the complementary dinner that was supposed to come with our stay, but if we lost the rooms, too, we had nowhere to go. When we got to the hotel, we braced ourselves for the worst.

To our surprise, the staff greeted us enthusiastically and rushed us to the dining room so we could get dinner before we even paid. Dinner was absolutely delicious, a viking extravaganza of sushi and every other Japanese food we could want. The hotel itself was a lovely resort with Japanese-style rooms, onsens, massage beds, arcade games, a mountain path, and free yukata you could borrow for your stay. Relaxing there that night and the next morning was probably one of the highlights of the trip.

The next day, the weather was perfect for our beach outing, and the beach itself was as beautiful as advertised. The waves were a bit strong, which resulted in a few cuts and bruises, multiple lost sun glasses, and… a hole in someone’s ear drum, but somehow the mood stayed buoyant and lovely.

From then on, it was smooth sailing. We had lovely food, made it to the Nachi fire festival just in time to watch the giant torches being carried up the mountain, had plenty of room on the train back… Perhaps this part is better summed up with a picspam:

In retrospect, I suppose there were a few hitches along the way, but everything was resolved so easily that the trip retains its rosy glow in my memory. And, of course, the people I got to go with were a huge part of why it was so much fun. Shout out to the Wakayama crew~! So that’s that – the great Wakayama adventure.

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