Filled with sacred areas that are thought to house Shinto Demi gods this are is a very popular destination as it is home to many water falls. 48 waterfalls to be exact, the pinnacle of which is the Ichinotaki which has a very powerful waterfall descending 133 meters originating in the Kumano mountains. The immense pressure of which is a key factor to the area’s popularity. The overall area called nachi Falls contains japan’s biggest waterfalls and has been a sacred spot for shinto believers for hundreds of years. Caution is to be taken as these special areas are not to be trounced upon and are marked off with Shimenawa rope so be sure to respect the local customs and do not cross one if you come across it.
This is a very unique spot for tourists as it feature a very interesting natural water phenomenon. Even though visiting hot springs in Japan is far from a unique experience the main feature of this spot is that the water changes colour 7 times per day. Being a stop for pilgrims for hundreds of years the tradition is kept alive today and not just by tourists visiting the area. Now recognized as a historical world heritage site by UNESCO this spot once used to cleanse and purify the body is now used to boils eggs in the area called Yuduzu where the water streams out at 90 degrees celsius. Becoming a local tradition amongst tourists to use the hot water as a foot bath as they wait for their “Onsen” eggs to be boiled.
Awashima Shrine (Wakayama-shi)
This shrine gives a bit of an eerie feeling as it is a local tradition to float paper dolls down the river. Albeit somewhat unsettling this area is actually used to purify oneself on March 3rd. So as you can imagine the site of several thousand paper dolls floating down the river on one particular day may seem a bit odd. Worshiping the god of medicine this area was use to pray for relief from women’s diseases and as a way to grant a safe child birth.
The Gasshou Nami waves as they are called in this area are a very interesting spectacle as it appears as if the waves are both crashing into the land and pulling away at the same time. The name means to hold one’s hands together in prayer also it is referred to as Fuufunami which means married couple. This rare site is an extraordinary sight to behold as these powerful waves split in two. Giving the area both a romantic and powerful feeling the best time to visit the area is from October to January and then again from April to September when the Bougainvillea flowers begin to blossom on the cliff.
This small town of 5,000 people is not a major tourist destination however in 1999 it opened up the world record holding underwater mail box that is located 33 meters below the waves. This was originally intended to bring in divers and other tourists and so far has taken off as it delivers over 200 pieces of mail every year. Special waterproof postcards can be bought on the pier along with special waterproof pens so divers can write and then send messages underwater to their friends and family. This mailbox is replaced every two years as it oxidizes from the salt water however this extra expense has not deterred the locals from keeping it operational as it has recently grown in popularity by being recognized by Guiness as the deepest underwater mailbox on Earth.