Monday, 31 December 2012

Japan Dec 2012 Day 5: Wakayama city, Wakayama

When we arrived at Wakayama city 和歌山市, we were greeted by Tsuda san who held up a card with my name. After that, Hiro san drove us to our hotel, Dormy Inn (5 min walk from Wakayama station). Tsuda san told us that Wakayama is actually 45 min from Kansai airport via the airport limousine which costs about JPY1000.

Our first stop was the Wakayama castle from where you can get a view of the entire small city if you climb to the top. Tsuda san actually recorded (his voice) explanations in English for us! I felt very touched by his gesture. Just for fun, we tried on samurai costumes (no charge) at the tourist information counter near the castle.

Lunch was at a tiny but popular ramen restaurant. We went at the right time when there was hardly any queue. When we left, a long queue started forming! We like the firm al dente noodles and flavourful broth but Hiro san felt it was rather salty.

We really looked forward to seeing Tamachan, the cat super station master at Kishi station, about half an hour from Wakayama via the Tamaden, Ichigoden or Omochaden. It was Tsuda san's first time taking the ichigo train as well! When we arrived, Hiro san was already waiting there (he drove there in his car so that he could drive us back... how sweet of him). The station is in the shape of a cat face! Although the lazy station master was sleeping on the job LOL, it was still very fun and enjoyable to visit. Since we didn’t get to take the Tamaden there, we went back to the platform at Wakayama the next day after returning from Koyasan and were pleased that the train master was very kind to let us through without a ticket to take pictures of the Tamaden!

After seeing Tamachan, we popped by Kuroshio market beside Porto Europe before going back to the hotel to enjoy the hot spring. Dormy Inn, which opened in Mar 2012, is very new and has a nice hot spring although it’s a modern hotel. We will definitely stay there if we go to Wakayama again. We are also very blessed to have such hospitable guides like Hiro san and Tsuda san whom I found through the goodwill guide list on the jnto website. I decided to get a guide because it was our first time to Wakayama (although it was our 10th time to Japan haha). 

I recommend guides for non-Japanese speakers who want to tour Wakayama because not many people can speak English in this region (apart from information counters and staff of larger hotels) and most of the directions and signs are in Japanese. Hotel Nakanoshima had English-speaking staff and the boss at Pals Inn in Shirahama speaks Mandarin. We had to rely on our very broken Japanese to get around in the other parts of Wakayama such as the car rental shop in Kii-Katsuura, Nachisan region and while taking the bus in Shirahama. We left our wifi adaptor at the Wakayama Dormy Inn and only realised it when we got to Shirahama, so I called the hotel but the staff couldn't speak English. I managed to get my message across in my limited Japanese, to request them to mail it to Sunroute Shimbashi Hotel in Tokyo. Chris was prepared to buy a new one in Tokyo but when we arrived at Sunroute Shimbashi, we were told that the package was already waiting for us in the room! We only needed to pay less than JPY800 for the delivery, much less than if we had to buy a new one =D

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