HOME Kansai Wakayama Wakayama, Koyasan Inside Guide to Wakayama Castle: Best photo spots, tips and more!
Inside Guide to Wakayama Castle: Best photo spots, tips and more!

Inside Guide to Wakayama Castle: Best photo spots, tips and more!

Date published: 4 October 2019
Last updated: 4 December 2020

Wakayama Castle is counted among the best 100 castles in Japan. The castle tower was rebuilt in 1958, and 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of that. The stone walls and moat have survived many historical events.

A part of the Edo era bailey (a courtyard within a castle enclosed by a curtain wall) is now a park and sightseeing spot full of attractions such as gardens, a historical center, and even a zoo.

Join us as we share the best ways to see Wakayama Castle!

Table of Contents
  1. Wakayama Castle: Basic information and access
  2. Highlight No. 1: Check out the chalk castle tower
  3. Highlight No. 2: Vantage point offering a magnificent view of the Wakayama Castle tower!
  4. Highlight No. 3: Mysterious marks engraved in the stone wall
  5. Highlight No. 4: Children visiting Wakayama Castle will especially enjoy the Omotenashi Ninja
  6. Highlight No. 5: A mysterious spot previously introduced on TV - tree roots in the form of a person
  7. Highlight No. 6: Imagine yourself as the lord of Wakayama Castle as you cross this point
  8. Bonus attraction No. 1: Enjoying the scenic Nishinomaru Teien Garden
  9. Bonus attraction No. 2: Get a sense of history at the Wakayama Historical Museum
  10. Bonus attraction No. 3: Try on period costumes to experience what if felt like to be a lord or princess!
  11. Bonus attraction No. 4: Download the app and enjoy VR!
  12. Bonus attraction No. 5: Cute animals in the Wakayama Park Zoo!
  13. Photo gallery of the many attractions at Wakayama Castle

Wakayama Castle: Basic information and access

Wakayama Castle is about a 10-minute walk from the Nankai Electric Railway Wakayama City Station.

The Wakayama City Hall is right in front of the park which is located in the very center of the city. Its easy access makes the castle an excellent sightseeing spot in which you can wander about freely and except for certain areas, such as the castle tower, there are no admission fees.

▲The grounds of Wakayama Castle have been made into a park.

Wakayama Castle played a key role in the west of the shogunate as the residence of the Kishu branch of the Tokugawa family, one of three such branches. It was also the castle where Yoshimune Tokugawa, made famous in the TV program “The Unfettered Shogun”, resided.

▲Wakayama Castle when the cherries are in bloom

The castle tower of Wakayama Castle was destroyed by fire when it was hit by lightning in 1846. It was rebuilt to its almost exact original form in 1850, but then again destroyed in an aerial bombing during the Second World War. The current castle tower is its third reincarnation.

The brilliant white of the castle tower stands out amongst the lush greenery of the castle grounds. It’s also a pleasure to see how it changes with the seasons. But the best season of all is spring when the cherries are in full bloom. This is the best place for cherry blossom viewings.

▲Otemon [Main Gate], the entrance to Wakayama Castle

Besides enjoying the beautiful scenery of the castle, there are plenty of other things to see and do there, too. So, without further ado, let me list the best ways to enjoy Wakayama Castle!

Highlight No. 1: Check out the chalk castle tower

The main attraction is without a doubt the castle tower. First go up to the higher areas in the park and head towards the square in front of the castle tower. Admission for sightseeing in the tower costs 410 yen for high school aged and older and 200 yen for elementary and middle school students.

▲ The second gate of the tower is called Kusunoki-mon [Camphor Tree Gate]

After paying the admission fee and entering the area you immediately come to the second gate of the castle tower. The castle tower of Wakayama Castle is made up of a larger tower and smaller tower connected by defense platforms and lookout towers on the stone walls called Tamon Yagura in a style known as coalition towers. Himeji Castle and Matsuyama Castle also have coalition towers.

▲The approach in front of the smaller tower connecting to the larger tower.

There is no entrance which goes directly to the larger tower; you go through the Kusunoki-mon and get to it by going through the smaller tower. The white gravel approach has a Japanese-style garden beauty to it.

▲The castle tower viewed up close.

The white of the castle tower seen at a close distance stands out beautifully.

▲The interior of the castle tower is a museum. Many valuable articles, such as those that belonged to the Kishu Tokugawa family, are on display.
▲View from the castle tower

From here you can also get a beautiful 360-degree view of the city of Wakayama. It is also possible to go outside and the veranda is just wide enough for an individual to pass, so you may want to step out and walk around it.

Looking down on the city below the castle you can get some idea of what it was like being the lord of the castle.

  • Wakayama Castle Tower
    和歌山城 天守閣
    • Address 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
    • Phone Number 073-422-8979
    • Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:30 p.m. (Admission closes at 5:00 p.m.)
      Closed: December 29 ~ 31
      Admission: High school students and older 410 yen, elementary and middle school students 200 yen (both fees include tax)

Highlight No. 2: Vantage point offering a magnificent view of the Wakayama Castle tower!

While you can get an excellent view of Wakayama City from the castle tower, you need to be outside of it to best view its style and form. After you leave the paid admission area, head east to the square in front of the tower.

In November 2017, a vantage point was created where once a palace connected to the castle stood.

There is a 110-meter-square area at the top of the stairs. Benches offer excellent views of the castle tower.

There are no trees blocking the view, so it is the perfect spot for taking pictures! This place affords an excellent view of the castle tower.

Here’s a hot tip. Together with the creation of this vantage point, renovation of the shop that was in front of the castle tower is also underway. To make the shop further blend into the landscape, it will have a traditional wooden lattice exterior. It is also expected to be outfitted with a kitchen so as to be able to provide light dishes, such as soba and udon (scheduled to open in April 2018).

The vantage point and renovated shop will add to the enjoyment awaiting you at Wakayama Castle. These new additions to Wakayama Castle are something to look forward to in the future!

Highlight No. 3: Mysterious marks engraved in the stone wall

As we continue our walk inside the castle grounds let’s move on to the next interesting spot. While walking be sure to check the stone walls inside the castle grounds. Doing so you will see a number of various marks etched into the stone walls.

Researchers discovered that there about 140 different types of marks.

This information board shows the different marks to be found on the stone walls. It is thought that these designs represent family crests, abbreviated characters, directions, dates, and people's names. For what purpose they were engraved, such as to indicate the dealer of the stones, or to indicate the quality of the stones, is not certain, but there are many theories including one that they included signs to ward off evil. It is fun to see how many different kinds of these stone engravings you can discover when walking through the castle grounds.

Highlight No. 4: Children visiting Wakayama Castle will especially enjoy the Omotenashi Ninja

Omotenashi Ninja are lurking everywhere throughout the park.

There is obviously something strange about part of the stone wall.

Omotenashi Ninja were concealed! The job of the Omotenashi Ninja is to assist sightseers. They provide support to visitors, answering questions they might have, and posing for photos. They also are happy to assist people in wheelchairs or those with strollers up steep inclines. While most lurk around the castle tower and entrance to the main gate, there are others here and there inside the park.

▲These mischievous Omotenashi Ninja do a wonderful job providing excellent service.

And if you like, they will put on a sword-fighting display for you. Children in particular will enjoy their performances. These delightful characters will certainly add to the pleasant memories you take away with you (Omotenashi Ninja are present from 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. on days other than Monday and Tuesday).

Highlight No. 5: A mysterious spot previously introduced on TV - tree roots in the form of a person

This is something you really should see as you are walking from the Otemon [Main Gate] towards the castle tower.

▲ The mysterious tree root at the entrance to the hill in back

It resembles a small person trying to scale the wall, don’t you think? It seems that no one noticed this until it was introduced on a television program after which it has since become a popular photo spot! From some angles you cannot see it, so it is best to look at it from below.

Highlight No. 6: Imagine yourself as the lord of Wakayama Castle as you cross this point

The building we are about to introduce next is not like anything you will see in any other castle.

Below the castle tower and diagonally crossing the moat is a structure that appears to be a bridge. What do you suppose it might be?

It is in fact a bridge called Ohashiroka [bridge corridor] which the lord of the castle and his attendants used to cross back and forth between the outer citadel and the west citadel. It was made with a roof and walls so that the interior could not be seen from the outside. Nowhere else in the country can such a diagonal structure be found.

▲ Inside the Ohashiroka

You can actually enter the Ohashiroka and cross over to the other side. The roof and walls are solidly built giving it the feeling of a room. It protected the lord from the elements and protected his privacy.

▲The steps are slightly staggered to prevent slipping.

This is because the corridor slants upward at about an 11-degree angle, so staggering the height of the steps served to prevent slipping and sliding on the polished floor.

▲You can see the castle tower from windows in the Ohashiroka.

Walking across this corridor made me wonder what the lords in the Edo period were thinking when they walked along here. If you come to Wakayama Castle, you really must cross over this corridor! There is no charge, either. Try to imagine what it must have been like during the Edo period when you come here.These were some of the highlights of Wakayama Castle to give you an initial idea of it. Now I will tell you about more ways that you can enjoy other sights around the castle.

Bonus attraction No. 1: Enjoying the scenic Nishinomaru Teien Garden

Bonus attraction No. 1: Enjoying the scenic Nishinomaru Teien Garden
▲Gate to the Nishinomaru Garden (Momijidani Teien)

When you walk back down the hill behind the north side of the castle tower and along the small path you come to a rustic gate. Passing through it you come upon a quiet garden.

Inside Nishinomaru garden there is a charming bridge and you can hear the soothing sounds of a waterfall. In the moat that looks like a large pond, your eyes will be drawn to the carp swimming serenely.

Each season presents its own charming view, such as this photo of the garden taken in autumn when the leaves are at their brightest. Spending time in this serene setting will definitely refresh and relax you.

The tea house Koshoan

There is a tea house inside the garden. The Koshoan tea house was completed in May 1974 and was a gift of the late Mr. Konosuke Matsushita, an honorary citizen of Wakayama City. The name Koshoan is made up of the first character used in Momijidani, Ko, and the first character in Mr. Matsushita's name, Matsu. Together they are read Kosho and the third character, An, means "hermitage".

▲Here you can take a break in a relaxed and informal atmosphere

Even if you do not have knowledge of the tea ceremony, you can enjoy matcha in the seated tea room (460 yen in total, tax included, with seasonal Japanese sweets).

In this building built in the style of a tea ceremony house set within a moss-covered garden and caressed by fresh, gentle breezes you can refresh both mind and body. Be sure to visit it.

  • Scenic Nishinomaru Garden and Momijidani Teien
    名勝 西之丸庭園(紅葉渓庭園)
    • Address 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
    • Phone Number 073-435-1044
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Koshoan: 9:00 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m.)
      Closed: December 29 ~ 31 (Koshoan: December 29 ~ January 3)
      Admission: Free

Bonus attraction No. 2: Get a sense of history at the Wakayama Historical Museum

Bonus attraction No. 2: Get a sense of history at the Wakayama Historical Museum

The Wakayama Historical Museum is located at the northwestern tip of the park. In this facility, which opened in 2015. You will find a room holding historical displays about Wakayama Castle and the people of the area, a tourism information center, and a sightseeing gift center.

Let’s first go up to the historical displays on the second floor. There is an admission charge of 100 yen (tax included) for high school aged people and older, but no charge for junior high school aged and younger. There is also a common admission ticket to the castle tower.

▲ In the theater you can get an overview of the history of Wakayama Castle

A movie entitled "The Revival of Wakayama Castle" is shown in the theater which is located directly behind the reception. The movie lasts about 12 minutes and explains the essential aspects of the castle. Scenes of life within the castle walls during the late Edo period are recreated using virtual reality. It shows what the parts of the castle which have since disappeared were once like.

In addition to the theater, there are various exhibits, such as graphics introducing the history of Wakayama Castle, and

exhibits of the gold seals handed down through the Kishu Tokugawa family, all of which is quite amazing. There are also curators on hand who are happy to provide more information about the exhibitions, so you can learn a lot of history about Wakayama Castle here.

  • Wakayama Historical Museum Exhibition Hall
    わかやま歴史館 歴史展示室
    • Address 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
    • Phone Number 073-435-1044
    • Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:30 p.m. (Admission closes at 5:00 p.m.)
      Closed: December 29 ~ 31
      Admission: High school students and older 100 yen (tax included), elementary and middle school students free; common admission ticket available

Bonus attraction No. 3: Try on period costumes to experience what if felt like to be a lord or princess!

Bonus attraction No. 3: Try on period costumes to experience what if felt like to be a lord or princess!

You can rent historical costumes at the Tourism Information Center on the first floor of the Wakayama Historical Museum (there is a fee and reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance) .You can dress up like the lord of the castle or a princess and walk around the castle like someone from that period.

After you have completed the necessary business at the reception, you can then go into a back room and change into your costume.

▲There are all sorts of costumes starting with authentic armor, attire for lords and princesses, samurai, ladies in waiting (lady attendants), and ninja.

If you have trouble, a staff member will be glad to help you.

▲ Clad in armor and ready to set out

Looks cool, don’t you think? If it rains, you can only wear the costumes inside the Wakayama Historical Museum, but when the weather is nice you can walk around the castle grounds in them!

  • Wearing Period Costumes Experience (Wakayama Castle Tourism Information Center
    時代衣装着付体験(和歌山城観光案内所)
    • Address 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, Wakayama Historical Museum 1st floor)
    • Phone Number 073-435-1185
    • Hours: 9:30 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.; 3 hours: maximum
      Closed: December 29 ~ 31
      Fee: Armor (per person) 9,000 yen, princess (per person) 5,000 yen (prices including tax) * Reservations required at least 7 days in advance

Bonus attraction No. 4: Download the app and enjoy VR!

The virtual reality mentioned previously that is shown in the theater of the historical exhibition hall is also available as a free application. First download the Street Museum app for smartphones. If you use that app at one of the 10 locations in the castle grounds, such as the castle tower, signs, Nishinomaru Garden, and Okaguchi Gate

the way that spot use to look during the Edo period will appear on the screen of your smartphone! This is really a useful app for getting even more enjoyment out of your walk around the castle grounds.

Bonus attraction No. 5: Cute animals in the Wakayama Park Zoo!

Bonus attraction No. 5: Cute animals in the Wakayama Park Zoo!

There is also a zoo inside the park. Admission is free and even children can see everything in about 30 minutes.

There are penguins, deer, beavers, and bears, but they hibernate during the winter.

▲Colorful pink flamingos

The free zoo is definitely a bonus attraction when sightseeing at the castle. Be sure to visit it.

  • Wakayama Park Zoo
    和歌山公園動物園
    • Address 3 Ichibancho, Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture
    • Phone Number 073-424-8635
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: Open daily(From April 2018 closed on Tuesdays)
      Admission: Free

How did you like it? Wakayama Castle has an amazing number of attractions. This is a place where history buffs and everyone else can enjoy a relaxed day of sightseeing.

Photo gallery of the many attractions at Wakayama Castle

Last of all here is a collection of photos of other places not mentioned in the article. Be sure to visit them, too, when you visit Wakayama.

▲Photo of Wakayama Castle taken from the 7th floor of the Wakayama City Hall
▲View of the Ohashiroka [bridge corridor] looking down from the castle tower
▲ Magnificent view looking down the bridge corridor
▲ The castle beautifully illuminated at night
▲Displays in the exhibition room of the castle tower (armor)
▲Displays in the exhibition room of the castle tower (shachihoko)
▲ Fukko (tiger) statue
▲Ta-da! Commemorative photos of being dressed up in historical garb
▲Golden seals of the Kishu Tokugawa Family in the Wakayama Historical Museum Exhibition Hall
▲ “Look for Wakayama Individuals” Corner in the Wakayama Historical Museum Exhibition Hall
▲Cute goat in the Wakayama Park Zoo

*This article contains information as of March 2018, when the interview occurred.

*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.

Share this article.

Recommended articles for first-time visitors to Kansai
Search