Monday, May 27, 2024

Wakanoura Bay of Poetry


Wakanoura, which roughly could be translated as  Poetry Bay, is in the southern part of what is now Wakayama City.

Where the Wada River and Waka River enter the sea a long sandbar has created a wide area of tidal mud flats that have been the inspiration for millennia of poets.

Poems set in the area were included in the ancient Manyoshu and subsequent major collections of verse, and Emperor Shomu ( 701-756 ) issued an imperial edict to protect the area in perpetuity.

Modern development has encroached significantly on the views now available, but there are enough sites of interest to make it an area worth a half-day visit.

The closest train station is Kiimidera (photo 3 above), in front of a major temple with a giant Kannon statues. It is a major tourist site and the second temple of the Saigoku pilgrimage, and if you are visiting it, it is not too far to walk to the Wakanoura area.

The place to head to is Imoseyama, a small island connected by a bridge. (photo 1 above)

On the island is the Kankai Kaku Pavillion (photo 4 above), originally built in the Edo period, it  was destroyed by a typhoon and replaced by a concrete replica. This has now been demolished and is being replaced with a wooden replica.

Also nearby is a small two-storey agoda, the remains of Kaizen-in Temple. It was renovated in 1653 by Tokugawa Yorinobu as a memorial to his deceased mother. To reach Imoseyama you cross the Sandankyo bridge, said to be the oldest stone bridge in Wakayama,  built by Yorinobu.

There are several shrines in the area. Shiogama Shrine ( photos 8 and 9 above) is located in a small cave and is very popular for visitors seeking safe childbirth and fertility although originally the kami here were connected to the sea and especially salt production which was important in this area. In front of the shrine is the Furobashi Bridge, built in the Edo period. )photo 12 below)

Nearby is Tamatsushima Shrine, (photo above)which as the name suggests stands on what was an island in former times. Numerous kami are enshrined here but the most notable is Princess Sotoori. Sources differ on her chronology but she seems to have been a particularly beautiful imperial princess of the 5th century.

Deified as one of the Three Gods of Waka Poetry, after appearing in a dream to Emperor Koko in the 9th century reciting a poem about Wakanoura. The shrine has an important collection of ancient manuscripts and is visited by those seeking literary and academic success.

The sandbar in the bay is a popular summer beach spot, and the area around Wakanoura has several small fishing harbors still operating.

Not far away are two major shrines on the mountainside with great views over the Wakanoura area.

Wakaoura Tenmangu Shrine ( photo above), and Kishu Toshogu Shrine are both well worth a visit and feature colorful and detailed architecture.

Also nearby is the Yosuien garden, (photo below) and Minato Goten Palace.


  1. Absolutely fabulous place! If I ever move - now I know where to go! <3

  2. Wow. I wish I lived there. Yes, so poetic. Lily