Japan Diaries: Day 7 and 8

Day 7 December 25, 2014

Christmas in Japan

Merikurisimasu from Japan! This is our first Christmas away from the Philippines. Lucky for us, we are celebrating it with our Japanese family. With them around we won't feel that we are away from home.

Today is also our first rest day since we got to Japan. Although it's Christmas, our Japanese family still had to go to work which is in contrast to how we consider December 25 as an official non-working holiday. That night we had a little celebration and Mr. Toshi gave me two Japanese novels (translated into English of course). We also had a simple feast to celebrate this special day. To sum it up, we didn't visit any new places today but we had a fulfilled day because we got to spend it with our Japanese family.

Day 8 December 26, 2014

My Solo Wakayama City Visit

After spending Christmas Day at the Kameyama Residence, it is time once again for another adventure. Sadly, it would only be a solo backpacking adventure for me because my wife chose to stay behind and rest.

Welcome to Wakayama City

My destination for today is Wakayama City in Wakayama Prefecture. I chose it because it was less visited by foreign tourists and it is near the Kameyama Residence. Mr. Toshi drove me to JR Hineno Station so that I could catch the train early. As expected the trip was comfortable, safe, and right on time. Luckily the train was not crowded which was contrary to what I always see in the movies.

The castle's bridge and gate near the post office

When I got to Wakayama City, my first destination was the tourism information center and my first order of business was to get an updated map of the city. The first tourist destination that I have in mind was the Wakayama Castle. It is about 30 minutes to 40 minutes away by foot from the train station and about 5 to 10 minutes by bus. I chose to get there by foot and it proved to be the wiser decision. Although it took time, I managed to "experience" what Wakayama City is like. I also got the chance to visit the Wakayama Post office and availed myself of the castle series postal stamp for my stamp collection.

Some flamingos inside the castle's zoo

Posing with a ninja near Wakayama Castle

Wakayama Castle

The view from the viewing deck of Wakayama Castle

From the post office, Wakayama Castle is just a few minutes away. However, it took me a bit more because before I entered the castle I took time taking pictures. Speaking of time, it actually took me more than 2 hours inside the castle complex because I wanted to capture as many beautiful well angled, and composed pictures as possible. Aside from that I also wanted to visit every corner of the castle complex (You can't blame me, this is my first Japanese castle).

The tourist information and souvenir shop

had a little warrior for a day dress up...

...then bought some souvenirs

Before leaving the castle complex, I stopped by the tourist center which is also located in the vicinity. I bought some souvenirs and had my picture taken while wearing the traditional warrior costume during Wakayama's olden times. My next destination is Kimiidera. In order for me to get there, I rode a bus to Kimiidera bus stop. However the station names were all in Japanese and despite the note given to me by the staff of the tourist center, I can't seem to find the right bus stop. what made the situation more stressful is that I only had 15 minutes before the bus arrives. Lucky for me though, a Good Samaritan (wait let me rephrase that... a good Japanese) was there to help. He even ran with me and waited with me at the bus station. (God bless that man). Because of him, I was able to get on the right bus on time and got to Kimiidera bus stop without much hassle.

Heading off to Kimiidera 

Since I arrived a little after lunch, I tried to look for a restaurant that serves the famous Wakayama Ramen. A local even helped me look for one but sadly, the nearest restaurant that offers the ramen already closed.

The street leading to Kimiidera

Daimon of Kimiidera

One has to walk up to reach Kimiidera

Having failed to locate any restaurants that offer the Wakayama Ramen, I just proceeded to the Kimiidera. It is the #2 temple in the Saikoku 33 Kanon Pilgrimage. The temple is located on top of a hill and I had to climb up using the steep man-made stairs to reach it. From the top,  you could see a panoramic view of Wakayama City and its surroundings. Aside from the beautiful view and the old temple, the other structures in the vicinity also add to the wow factor of the place. I enjoyed taking pictures of the old structures and statues in the temple vicinity. Lucky for me,  I had my tripod with me. If not, all my pictures would have been landscape and architecture photographs.

One of the structures in the vicinity of the Kimiidera

In it, you'd see a giant statue of Buddha


I spent almost an hour in the vicinity taking pictures and admiring the beauty of the place. Since it was almost afternoon, I decided to head back home. I had to walk almost a kilometer to reach Kimiidera Station. From there I rode a train back to Wakayama Station before transferring to a JR train that would bring me to Kumatori Station. From there I jumped on a bus that brought me home.

The Backpack Adventures visits Kimiidera

Well, that ends my 8th day in Japan... It's tiring but fulfilling.


  1. I adore your drive to do a solo backpacking adventure around Wakayama City even your wife is not around, since she need to rest. Anyway, you're truly right that Wakayama is less visited by many tourist. I love the Wakayana castle and the panoramic view that it has to offer. I wish to visit Japan soon If I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing your Day 7 in Japan.

    1. Hi Reniel.If ever you do visit Japan, don't forget to visit Wakayama Prefecture. Given the chance I'd still go back there to explore more. I only saw the tip of the iceberg. =D

  2. How far is this from Tokyo? Like you, love places that aren’t frequent by tourists so this place fits the criteria. Especially in Japan where major cities tend to be crowded than usual.

    1. It's 559.2 kilometers from Tokyo. I suggest, stay in Osaka. =) It's just one train ride away. =)

  3. I really miss Japan, reading your post made me want to go back there as soon as possible. I just love this country, it's just so beautiful and their culture is very intact. That warrior costume is so cool, was it heavy or hard to wear? Looks like you had a fantastic day despite being alone.

    Nice photo with the ninja by the way, would love to have one too when I get a chance haha...

    1. Hi Marge. The warrior costume was quite heavy. I was assisted by a tourism employee. =) Wearing it takes about 10 minutes.

      Regarding the ninja, he said that you should visit early as he has a secret job in the market. =)

  4. Wakayama is one place I guess my kid is going to absolutely love. Those flamingoes, ninja to pose with and then so much to explore! Thanks for the virtual tour and the guide to rest of the places worth seeing. When I visit Japan, I will definitely do a trip here.

    1. I'm happy to hear that. =) Would love to see your adventure in your blog someday.

  5. Hi Neil! So glad you got to see the super laid back Wakayama and even Wakayama castle! It is shown in your pictures even alone, you had an awesome walk and captured well the beauty of the castle. My husband's place is near Wakayama but haven't been to this place. Next time will visit this one. Thanks for the share!

    1. Hi Ann, you're right the place is super laid back. Been walking in the streets alone for almost an hour and I WAS in the city. =)


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