From Osaka it was about two and a half hours to Wakayama prefecture. The area we went to on Friday was called Shirahama, which means white beaches, it is popular during the summer for its white beaches and also for its hot springs.
As you approach Shirahama, you will pass through an area called Arida. This area is known for mikan (mandarin oranges).
I was excited to see terraced hillsides with endless rows of mikan trees just loaded and ready for harvest, as well as on the ground. It seemed like every piece of land had a mikan tree on it.
We arrived at Shirahama and the weather was quite windy and overcast, not very good for sightseeing, but since it was my first time here, so we hopped on a sightseeing bus and took their tour. I was disappointed to find out that most of this white sand is imported from New Zealand or Australia.
Our first stop was to a large plateau called Senjojiki. This plateau faces the Pacific Ocean and is said to look like several thousand tatami (straw) mats joined together.
Next was the Sandanbeki. A 50 meters high (165 feet), 2 kilometer (1.24 miles) stretch of rock. This cliff was created by erosion and is supposed to resemble a folding Japanese screen. There is an elevator to take you almost to the bottom of the cliff, but it was pricey and not included in our tour package.
Our next stop was a Glass bottom boat ride. On a windy day like it was, the sea was very choppy....Talk about....Blah! I really think they should have included the elevator ride at Sandanbeki in the tour package and thrown this part of the tour out!
Engetsu-to was named because it resembles a full moon. Many tour pamphlets show this islet with the sun setting within the round opening. Too bad the weather was so bad, it would have been an awesome sight. Still, I was amazed at how precise the ocean eroded this round circle in the middle of the islet.
Our last stop was Toretore Ichiba. This place is as big as Costco and filled with SEAFOOD! We were both feeling quite woozy from the boat ride but after seeing all this seafood, we were back to normal in no time.
They had kujira (whale) on special. Satoshi said that they serve whale for lunch at school, I think I would probably skip lunch that day. I've tasted it when I was studying in Japan and it is very fatty and oily...I know it is supposed to be a delicacy but ugh! no thank you.
Another delicacy in this area is maguro (tuna). There was tons of the stuff and really cheap too!
Besides mikan, Wakayama is also known for their ume (pickled plums). In an area called Minabe, you can see rows upon row of plum trees. At this market, you could buy a cup of pickled plum wine for just 400 yen...I wonder how big the cup was?
Stay tuned for more sights and eats...