HOME Kansai Wakayama Kumano Kodo, Shingu, Shirahama 9 Places to Visit in Japan’s Midwest Resort Town, Shirahama, Wakayama (2-Day/1-Night Itinerary)
9 Places to Visit in Japan’s Midwest Resort Town, Shirahama, Wakayama (2-Day/1-Night Itinerary)

9 Places to Visit in Japan’s Midwest Resort Town, Shirahama, Wakayama (2-Day/1-Night Itinerary)

Date published: 8 July 2022

Shirahama is a resort town in Wakayama Prefecture, particularly famous for Shirahama Onsen. Summer here starts as early as May, with the earliest opening beaches in Japan's main island of Honshu. There's more to see here than beautiful beaches, though.

There are natural scenic spots like Keishochi, a designated National Scenic Spot with a fantastic view, the Memorial Hall, where you can learn all about the famous natural biologist, Minakata Kumagusu, and Adventure World, an amusement park that's also home to several giant pandas!

Table of Contents
  1. What kind of place is Shirahama, Wakayama?
  2. Getting to Shirahama from Osaka
  3. A 2-Day/1-Night Discounted Unlimited Bus Pass
  4. Start Visiting Famous Attractions From Day One!
  5. 1) Sandanbeki Cliffs / Sandanbeki Cave
  6. 2) Senjojiki
  7. 3) Fisherman's Wharf Shirahama
  8. 4) Shirarahama Beach
  9. 5) Minakata Kumagusu Museum
  10. 6) Enjoy the Sea from a Glass-Bottom Boat
  11. 7) Engetsu Island
  12. A Second Day Full of Excitement! Adventure World and Souvenir Shopping
  13. 8) Adventure World
  14. 9) Totetore Ichiba

What kind of place is Shirahama, Wakayama?

What kind of place is Shirahama, Wakayama?

Shirahama Town, Wakayama Prefecture, is located about 2 hours and 30 minutes south of Osaka City by train. With an ocean on the west side, it's one of the leading resort towns in the Kansai Region. There's also several natural scenic spots along the sea, and a memorial hall dedicated to the studies of famous ecologist, Minakata Kumagusu.

Hot springs are an indispensable part of Japanese resorts and have a long history. Shirahama Onsen is one of the oldest, along with Arima and Dogo Onsen (collectively known as the 'three oldest hot springs of Japan'). Shirahama is also famous for having the largest number of giant pandas in Japan, which, as you can imagine, draws in many people wanting to see them.

In the summer, lots of beach-goers also gather at the white, sandy beaches of Shirarahama resorts. It's also a rather easy destination to get to, with Shirahama Airport just 70 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Getting to Shirahama from Osaka

Photo: PIXTA
Photo: PIXTA

By Public Transportation:
Take the direct limited express from JR Shin-Osaka Station to JR Shirahama Station (about 2 hours and 30 minutes), or take the express from Kansai International Airport and transfer to the limited express (about 2 hours and 10 minutes).

By Car:
About 2 hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Nanki-Shirahama IC, and about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Kansai International Airport (via expressway).

A 2-Day/1-Night Discounted Unlimited Bus Pass

A 2-Day/1-Night Discounted Unlimited Bus Pass

Today, we begin our travels from JR Shirahama Station using the discounted Meiko Bus pass. You can buy the Shirahama Tokutoku Free Ride Ticket. (Note: 'Free' refers to unlimited rides; the ticket itself is not free.)

You can purchase this 2-day unlimited-ride pass when you exit JR Shirahama Station. They are available at the ticket office to the left of the Meiko Bus Shirahama Station Information Center (cash only; English brochures also available).

With this unlimited pass, you won't need to take a numbered ticket when boarding the bus. Simply ride, and present your pass to the driver when you get off at your stop.

Shirahama Toku-Toku Free Ticket (Unlimited Rides Pass)
1-day pass: Adults (junior high & up): 1,100 yen / Children (elementary age): 550 yen
2-day pass: Adults: 1,600 yen / Children; 800 yen
3-day pass: Adults: 1,900 yen / Children: 950 yen

*Some perks only available at select Shirahama facilities. Please check before entering.
*Payment by credit card accepted for advanced online purchases

Purchase your ticket here!

Enter the bus through the middle door, and exit from the front. The driver will announce the stops over an in-car broadcast in Japanese and English. When you hear the name of your destination, press the yellow button at your seat to request the next stop. (Upcoming stops are also displayed on the fare sign located at the front of the bus).

Bus stops are indicated not only in Japanese but in several foreign languages. They are also numbered for your convenience.

The vehicle in this photo is also a Meiko bus. Don't be fooled by the different designs - you can use your unlimited pass on this bus, too!

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

  • Meiko Bus
    明光バス白浜駅前案内所
    • Address 1385-6 Katata, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama 649-2201
    • Phone Number 0739-42-3378
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: Open daily
      WEBSITE: https://meikobus.jp/scheduled/shirahama/

Start Visiting Famous Attractions From Day One!

1) Sandanbeki Cliffs / Sandanbeki Cave

10:22 a.m.: Board Sandanbeki-bound bus (12) and depart from Shirahama Station (s-0).

10:44 a.m.: Arrive at Sandanbeki (s-24). The destination is a 3-min walk from the bus stop.

The Sandanbeki Cliffs are a natural scenic spot, about 50 meters in height and 2 kilometers north-south, carved into steps by the waves of the sea. Stand atop the cliffs, and look down at the overwhelming sight of the waves as they crash powerfully onto the rocks right beneath your feet!

Shrine to Benzaiten, Goddess of the Sea, located in Sandanbeki Cave
Shrine to Benzaiten, Goddess of the Sea, located in Sandanbeki Cave

You won't want to miss Sandanbeki Cavern! Legend has it that this cave is where the Kumano Navy hid their vessels during the Genpei War.*

(*General term for various wars that took place in multiple parts of Japan from 1180-1185 between the two major samurai clans of the time, the Taira and Minamoto. Source: Kobe City Archives.)

The restored Kumano navy barracks, located at the end of the passage
The restored Kumano navy barracks, located at the end of the passage

Take the elevator to the cave entrance, located about 36 meters below ground. The cave itself is about 200 meters around. Some of the highlights include the Benzaiten Shrine, home to one of the largest bronze statues in Japan, and the restored Kumano navy barracks.

Waves break inside the cave at high tide
Waves break inside the cave at high tide

One of the most impressive sights are the powerful waves crashing loudly into the cave toward the back, which get particularly rough around high tide. If this is something you want to see, be sure to check the tide levels in advance!

Japan Meteorological Agency Tide Table for Shirahama

Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese (traditional/simplified), and Korean.

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

  • Sandanbeki Cave
    三段壁洞窟
    • Address 2927-52 Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama 649-2211
    • Phone Number 0739-42-4495
    • Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Last entry 4:50 p.m.) *Business hours subject to change. Please see official website for details.

      Admission:
      Adults (junior high & up): 1,300 yen
      Children (elementary age): 650 yen
      Children under elementary age: Free

      *Payments accepted by Credit card, e-commerce, and QR code

      Closed: Open daily *Closed for maintenance mid-December

      WEBSITE: http://sandanbeki.com/

The Heart Monument at sunset
The Heart Monument at sunset

The Heart Monument is located near the Sandanbeki Observatory, on which couples secure padlocks as a symbol of their love for each other. This spot was dubbed a 'sacred place for lovers' in 2016 and, as you might imagine, is quite a romantic spot at sunset!

  • Sandanbeki Cliffs
    • Address 2927-52, Sandan, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama, 649-2211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shirahama Station (JR Kisei Line / JR Kinokuni Line)
      27 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 0739-42-4495

2) Senjojiki

11:32 a.m.: Board a bus bound for Shirahama Station (102 / located on the opposite side of the bus stop you arrived at) and depart from Sandanbeki (s-24).

11:33 a.m.: Arrive at Senjoguchi (s-21). The destination is a 5-min walk from the bus stop.

The name 'Senjojiki' (literally "one thousand tatami mats") comes from the many years over which the seas carved through these rocks, as if laying down a thousand tatami mats.

Located to the north of Sandanbeki, it stretches for about 4 hectares, and offers a nice spot to sit and gaze at the sea while enjoying the gentle breeze. The fascinating gradation of the sea and sky from Senjojiki, together with the crashing of the waves and the fragrance of the tide, offer a peaceful repose for your body and soul.

(Unfortunately, it was painful to look down and see graffiti scribbled at the foot of the magnificent landscape. Please don't be that person who would carelessly ruin a national scenic landmark!)

Can enter freely
Parking: Yes (Senjojiki Parking / Free / 30 vehicle capacity)

MAP Code: 184 010 061 * 40
Website

  • Senjojiki
    • Address Senjojiki, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama, 649-2211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shirahama Station (JR Kisei Line / JR Kinokuni Line)
      21 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 0739-43-6588

3) Fisherman's Wharf Shirahama

12:16 p.m.: Board bus bound for Tanabe Station (11 / same as the previous bus stop) and depart from Senjoguchi (s-21).

12:19 p.m.: Arrive at Yuzaki (s-18). The destination is right in front of bus stop.

Fisherman's gourmet bowl
Fisherman's gourmet bowl

Now it's time for lunch. Head to Fisherman's Wharf Shirahama for a taste of fresh local seafood caught right in Shirahama Yuzaki. There's a variety of dishes to try on the first floor of the Fish Market, like the Fisherman's Gourmet Bowl (1,320 yen). (Also, don't worry about ordering - the menu is illustrated and includes English notation!)

Wakayama Prefecture is known for landing the largest catches of raw tuna in Japan, so naturally, we wanted to try the tuna. The plump, delicious texture of the fresh tuna did not disappoint! There's also a Japanese restaurant on the second floor and a BBQ area on the third floor.

Scenery from fishing boat cruise
Scenery from fishing boat cruise

There are many activities in and on the sea in the area, including boat cruises and diving. Take a look at the official website for more!

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

  • SHIRAHAMA Fisherman’s Wharf
    フィッシャーマンズワーフ白浜
    • Address 1667-22 Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama 649-2211
    • TEL: 0739-43-1700 (Reception 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)

      Hours:
      Fresh Fish Market / Market Cafeteria: 10:00AM-6:00PM
      2F Japanese Restaurant / Japanese Dining Banya: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Last order 2:00 p.m.), 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (Last order 9:00 p.m.)

      Closed:
      Fresh Fish Market / Market Cafeteria: Open daily
      2F Japanese Restaurant / Japanese Dining Banya: Closed Tuesdays (next day if national holiday)

      Accepted Credit Cards: VISA / MasterCard / JCB / AMEX / Diners

      Parking: Yes (Free up to 1 hour / 120 capacity / you can receive 1-hr free parking ticket by eating or shopping in the facility)

      MAP Code: 184 011 697 * 68
      WEBSITE: https://fw-sh.com/

4) Shirarahama Beach

1:05 p.m.: Board bus bound for Tanabe Station (11, same as the previous bus stop) and depart Yuzaki (s-18).

1:08 p.m.: Arrive at Shirarahama (s-15). Your destination is right near the bus stop.

Shirarahama Beach is famous for its pure white, breathtaking sandy landscape. It's also known as the sister beach to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. The white sands, palm trees, and emerald green seas on the half-moon-shaped beach looks like what you'd see in Waikiki!

Whether you've come to swim, take photos, or relax on the sand, time passes here in a blink of an eye. Please keep noise to a minimum and refrain from causing any commotions or stunts. This beach is a place of rest and relaxation for all!

Can enter freely
Parking: Yes (Shirarahama Parking Lot / 500 yen all-day / 50 vehicle capacity)
*Note that it tends to get crowded in summer

MAP Code: 184 041 263 * 48
Website

  • Shirarahama Beach
    • Address Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama Shirahama, 649-2211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shirahama Station (JR Kisei Line / JR Kinokuni Line)
      15 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 0739-43-6588

5) Minakata Kumagusu Museum

2:00 p.m.: Board bus bound for Shirahama Station (102 / same as previous bus stop), and depart Shirahama (s-15).

2:06 p.m.: Arrive at Rinkai (Engetsu Island) (s-54). Destination is a 10-min walk from the bus stop.

Proceed up the forest-surrounded hill to reach Minakata Kumagusu Museum.

Minakata Kumagusu was a famous pioneer amongst ecologists. His scope of activities and research was not limited to Japan. This museum scholar, born in Wakayama Prefecture, has published many articles abroad, as well.

He authored 51 articles in the British scientific journal Nature and 323 papers in the British scientific journal Notes and Queries. Kumagusu is said to have the greatest amount of papers published by a single researcher in history and is regarded by readers and editors alike as an authority on oriental studies.

Kumagusu set his focus on slime molds from early on amongst his numerous studies. He was particularly famous for presenting live specimen samples to Emperor Hirohito, who was a biologist, in chocolate caramel boxes during a special academic lecture. Kumagusu was a scientist amongst scientists whose achievements cannot be described in a single word, and is certainly one you'll want to learn more about!

The cylindrical object on the upper right is a lantern!
The cylindrical object on the upper right is a lantern!

The giant, cylindrical object stretching from the floor to the ceiling at the first-floor entrance is actually a lantern! This lantern is also a display depicting the life of a slime mold, one of the most prominent of Kumagusu's study topics.

You'll also notice some pleasant music playing softly in the background. This is 'Minakata Kumagusu Music,' welcoming you to the world of Kumagusu as you climb the stairs to the exhibit.

At the right side of the second-floor hall is the permanent exhibition room. Here, you'll get to know Kumagusu from childhood to his later years through nearly 800 exhibits (in Japanese and English).

You can also use an official free, multilingual audio guide if you have a smartphone and earphones. The audio guide provides additional notes and stories that are not written on the displays.

Scan the QR code on the left side in front of the exhibition room entrance to access them. Then, follow the path and re-live the life of Kumagusu, complete with the changing background music dedicated to Minakata Kumagusu himself.

The longest resume in the world!
The longest resume in the world!

When you leave the exhibition room, you'll notice some detailed inscriptions along the curving right wall leading back to the main building. This resume was part of a biography Kumagusu sent over to the then-deputy branch manager of the Nippon Yusen Osaka Branch.

This valuable piece of history lists the accomplishments of Kumagusu in complete detail over a total length of 8 meters. It's over 58,000 characters long and was entirely written by hand!

Special exhibitions are also held four times a year in the main building's exhibition room on the bridge. Today's exhibition showed copies of Kumagusu's work, "Learning from Imitation (学びは真似から)." It gives a look into Kumagusu's childhood before he became the 'knowledge giant' he is regarded as today.

Return to the bridge and climb the stairs to the roof. The observation deck offers a 360-degree view of the area. You can even see Shirahama Onsen Town and Shikoku in the right conditions!

Illustrated display plates are also written in English
Illustrated display plates are also written in English

You can also see Tenjinzaki, famous as the birthplace of the Japanese National Trust Movement.

There are also observation tours available, so be sure to check the official website if you're interested!

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

  • Minakata Kumagusu Museum
    南方熊楠記念館
    • Address 3601-1 Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama 649-2211
    • Phone Number 0739-42-2872
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Last entry 4:30 p.m.)
      Closed: Thursdays (Open 7/20-8/31) / June 28-30 / Dec 29-Jan 1

      Admission:
      Adults (high school & up): 600 yen
      Children (elementary-junior high): 300 yen
      *Cash only

      Parking: Yes (Free / 30 vehicle capacity / separate paid 40-vehicle municipal parking lot nearby)

      MAP Code: 184 070 713 * 36
      WEBSITE: http://www.minakatakumagusu-kinenkan.jp/

6) Enjoy the Sea from a Glass-Bottom Boat

Head to the glass-bottom boat docking area and board the last departure at 4:10 p.m.

4:00 p.m.: Walk from Minakata Kumagusu Museum (about 8 min)

The glass boat offers an all-new kind of scenery you'll only see on board. As the name suggests, the bottom part of the boat is entirely made of glass, letting you observe life underneath the vessel without ever having to leave! (Ride time is about 25 minutes.)

View of Engetsu Island from inside the glass boat
View of Engetsu Island from inside the glass boat

You can also see Engetsu Island, a popular Shirahama landmark, up close. All pamphlets and onboard announcements are in Japanese, but prices and explanations are in English at the boarding area.

Once you're back on dry land, walk about three minutes south and take a commemorative photo in front of Engetsu Island!

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

  • Nanki Shirahama Glass boat
    南紀白浜グラスボート
    • Address 500 Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama 649-2211
    • Phone Number 0739-42-2122
    • Hours: 8:45 a.m. - 4:10 p.m.
      Closed: Open daily *Closed in stormy weather

      Admission:
      Adults (junior high & up): 1,600 yen
      Children (4 years - elementary age): 800 yen
      *Cash only

      Parking: None
      (Engetsu Island parking lot nearby: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. / 300 yen / 35 capacity)

      MAP Code: 184 071 542 * 87
      WEBSITE: http://www.glasboat.com/

7) Engetsu Island

7) Engetsu Island

Engetsu Island, officially known as Takashima, is a small uninhabited island about 130 meters long north-south, 35 meters east-west, and 25 meters high. In the center of this land mass is a gaping hole that you can peer right through to the other side! The mysteries of nature are certainly impressive.

For an up-close look, hop on the glass-bottom boat (open to all ages), or take a fishing boat cruise (Fisherman's Wharf Shirahama).

The sunset over Engetsu Island is so captivating, that it has even been selected as one of the '100 Best Sunsets of Wakayama Prefecture.' You can even watch the sunset through the opening on the island during the spring and autumn equinoxes.

  • Engetsu Island
    • Address 3740, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama, 649-2211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shirahama Station (JR Kisei Line / JR Kinokuni Line)
      15 minutes by bus
    • Phone Number 0739-43-6588

After a long day, it's time to head back to the hotel. The bus stop is a 3-minute walk from the spot where we saw Engetsu Island. Board the bus from Rinkai (Engetsu Island) (s-54) and head to your accommodation.

If going toward Shirahama Station (s-0), take the Shirahama-bound bus (102) departing at 5:40 p.m. from the same bus stop you arrived at.

If going toward Sandanbeki (s-24), board the loop bus (101) departing at 5:29 p.m. on the opposite side.

One of the main attractions of the accommodations here is, without a doubt, Shirahama Onsen. After a long day of sightseeing, who wouldn't want to unwind with a leisurely soak in the springs?

Recommended places to stay:

A Second Day Full of Excitement! Adventure World and Souvenir Shopping

8) Adventure World

After checking out, head to 'Adventure World', and get ready to meet giant pandas! Today begins Day Two of using our Unlimited Rides Pass.

Board the train bound for Shirahama Station (101) from the Shirahama Onsen Area, departing at 9:00 a.m. You'll arrive at Adventure World (s-32) around 9:58 a.m. The park is a short walk from the bus stop.

At Adventure World, you can experience all the excitement of a zoo, aquarium, and amusement park in one location! The vast site boasts an area of approximately 800,000 square meters. Today, our focus is on the animals.

(*Numbers in parentheses after attraction names correspond to park map numbers.)

10:00 a.m.: Entrance Dome (1)

Scan the QR code at the front entrance gate to see the park map and the day's events on your phone. Or, grab a park guide! Although the park guide is currently only available in Japanese, don't worry! The map is complete with attraction numbers and cute animal drawings, so it's easy to figure out.

And if you have any questions, English-speaking staff members are available, so feel free to ask someone nearby!

10:10 a.m.: Panda Love (2)

Fuuhin
Fuuhin

'Panda Love' is home to four giant pandas. Today we saw Touhin outside, and Fuuhin and Ouhin inside. You can also see Yuihin here. Regardless of which panda you see, there's only one word that could possibly describe them all: 'cute!'

10:40 a.m.: Breeding Center (6)

Saihin
Saihin

The Breeding Center is home to three more giant pandas. The father, Eimei, was outside, while the mother bears, Rauhin and Saihin, were indoors. (They were all completely fixated on eating!)

11:10 a.m.: Big Ocean (13)

'Smiles' is a live marine event about 20 minutes long, starting at 11:15 a.m. I was so enthralled by the wonderful performance of the dolphins, whales, and trainers, I forgot to take pictures!

11:40 a.m.: Dolphin Friendly Pool (12)

From the Dolphin Deck, you can watch dolphins swimming by freely at top speed, right before your eyes! Your camera might not be able to keep up!

11:55 a.m.: Animal Land (11)

'Animal Action' starts at noon and is about 20 minutes long. This comical live animal performance will have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing as the charismatic trainers laugh and the animals do their thing!

12:30 p.m.: Friend House (22)

Panda Burger Platter (1,520 yen)
Panda Burger Platter (1,520 yen)

Head to Friend House 'Bread Studio' for lunch. We ordered the Panda Burger Platter. Although I hesitated for a moment at the sight of such a hearty plate piled with vegetables and panda buns, after tasting the first bite, I quickly wolfed it down!

Panda Drink Bottle (1,500 yen / includes soft drink)
Panda Drink Bottle (1,500 yen / includes soft drink)

You can order iced tea in a portable Panda Drink Bottle. After finishing your first drink, refills only cost 250 yen with this bottle - a thirst-quenching deal, indeed!

1:20 p.m.: Kenya Boarding Area (30)

The 4-car Kenya Train
The 4-car Kenya Train

The Kenya takes you around Safari World at a leisurely pace. The vehicle is covered and air-conditioned for a comfortable ride, regardless of weather or season!

Twenty-five minutes pass in a blink of an eye when you're getting excited over all the animals!

Book in advance for Safari World tour attractions!
Book in advance for Safari World tour attractions!

Next time, I'd love to check out the Cart Safari Tour for an even closer look at the animals! (Extra fee, reservations required)

1:55 p.m.: Center Dome (3)

Head to the Sea Animal Museum next to the Center Dome.

Check out the Polar Bear Feeding at 2:00PM (about 10 minutes long) and watch as they dive into the pool, on the hunt for their food. Sure, polar bears are cute from a distance, but seeing their overwhelming size and power up close is a humbling experience!

2:30 p.m.: Ascend the slope to the second floor, where you'll be greeted by dozens of adorable penguins as they frolic and play. There are eight different breeds of penguins, with a total of nearly 450 penguins on-site (including in the backyard)!

3:00 p.m.: Entrance Dome (1)

The bench on the 2nd floor of the Center Dome. Who's that sitting there?
The bench on the 2nd floor of the Center Dome. Who's that sitting there?

From the second floor of the Sea Animal Museum, head back to the Entrance Dome via the Center Dome 2F. There are still lots of animals we didn't get to see today, but we'll have to save it for next time.

Next, head to the Entrance Dome to check out the souvenirs!

Panda Bamboo Earrings (4,300 yen each)
Panda Bamboo Earrings (4,300 yen each)

What caught my eye was the 'Panda Bamboo Earrings,' which are only sold here. There are seven different styles, each based on one of the panda family members. All earrings are beautifully crafted by artisans using a mix of leftover bamboo from the pandas and bamboo from Kyoto. Why not buy some to share with your friends?

Kishu Sugi / Hinoki Cypress Drink (2,100 yen)
Kishu Sugi / Hinoki Cypress Drink (2,100 yen)

There's a ton of original goods to choose from. But pay attention to the time, and don't miss your bus!

3:45 p.m.: Bus Stop
Exit the Entrance Dome. The bus stop is right in front.


Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

Hours: 10:00AM-5:00PM
Closed: Wednesdays
*Please see official website or call for more information

Admission:
Adults (18 & up): 4,800 yen
Seniors (65 & up): 4,300 yen
Students (12-17 years): 3,800 yen
Children (4-11 years): 2,800 yen

List of cashless payment available in park:
https://www.aws-s.com/topics/static/cashless.pdf

Parking: Yes (1,200 yen/day - 5,000 capacity)

MAP Code: 457 570 706 * 43
Website

9) Totetore Ichiba

3:50 p.m.: Board bus bound for Shirahama Station (101 / same as the previous bus stop), and depart Adventure World (s-32).

3:56 p.m.: Arrive at Toretore Ichiba (s-5). It's a 3-min walk from the bus stop.

Toretore Ichiba is the perfect place to visit for food and souvenirs before calling it a day. Here you can buy fresh seafood direct from the fisheries as well as unique local Wakayama products. There's also plenty to eat, so you may want to have dinner here, as well.

At the food court, you'll find everything from sushi to rice bowls and noodles. Don't worry about your Japanese ability. The menu is illustrated, so simply point to what you want, and your server will be happy to oblige!

Chirashi-zushi (1,200 yen)
Chirashi-zushi (1,200 yen)

I ordered the chirashi-zushi, which was served in a gorgeous arrangement. With so many options, including udon, soba, and Wakayama ramen, it took a while to decide what to eat it with. Donburi dishes (900 yen and up) are popular tourist favorites, such as the Unagi-don (1,400 yen) and Uni-don (3,300 yen). Prepaid, cash, or QR code payment only.

Raw tuna sold in cold storage cases
Raw tuna sold in cold storage cases

After you've eaten your fill, it's time to grab one last souvenir. Many of the items sold here are easy for tourists to bring home. Wakayama Prefecture boasts some of the best raw tuna catches in all of Japan. As such, you'll find plenty of tuna sashimi and sushi items. However, they're all super-popular and sell out fast, so grab yours while you can!

Clockwise from upper left: Manager's choice Dried Goods Set (5,000 yen), Toretore Market Limited-Edition Mikan Juice (650 yen and up), popular confectionary Kagero (1,080 yen), wide variety of Wakayama Umeshu
Clockwise from upper left: Manager's choice Dried Goods Set (5,000 yen), Toretore Market Limited-Edition Mikan Juice (650 yen and up), popular confectionary Kagero (1,080 yen), wide variety of Wakayama Umeshu

Health & Safety Measures
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Disinfected after each guest leaves - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Plastic partitions installed - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Limited capacity/increased space between seats - Restricted admission, reservation system in place - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required/temperature check enforced

Parking: Yes (Free / 777 capacity)

MAP Code: 184 045 247 * 81
Website

JR Shirahama Station is about five minutes by bus from Toretore Ichiba-mae. The express bus stop is also right in front of Toretore Ichiba. By express bus, it takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to JR Osaka Station Express Bus Terminal, where you can also catch the Meiko Bus. The JR Namba OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal) is located here, as well.

Shirahama is a fun place to explore by car, but if you'd rather avoid the crowded summer parking lots, the unlimited-ride bus ticket is the way to go! Keep in mind that buses may also experience delays in the summer due to traffic.

Nonetheless, this itinerary is designed to be flexible so that you can adjust it according to your schedule and the weather. Shirahama is packed with attractions, and with this plan as a guide, you can expect nothing short of a fantastic summer trip. (If going by car, however, be sure to refer to the MAP codes!)

*Information in article as of June 2022.

Translated by: Krys Suzuki

Written by:

WESTPLAN

WESTPLAN

Kiko Matsuda, Keiko Kimura, Risa Tsuji, and a team of female writers familiar with Kansai. We love eating, drinking and traveling! We share fun information based on our experiences.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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