What to Do in Shirahama Onsen

Located on the southern coast of Wakayama Prefecture, Shirahama is a popular onsen resort town that also boasts a beach of white sand, a number of fascinating rock formations, and the sizeable Tore Tore market, where visitors can shop for local seafood products that Wakayama is famous for.

Saki no yu public onsen

Saki no yu public onsen
Saki no yu public onsen

Said to be Japan’s oldest hot spring, Saki no yu is a series of open-air baths carved into the rocky shoreline. This offers a thrilling experience for bathers, especially when the ocean waves crash against the rocks. The baths are open daily and easily reached from JR Shirahama Station by bus to Yuzaki. The latest entrance is 30 minutes before closing time, which is 5pm, 6pm or 7pm depending on the season. There is a 500-yen entry fee.

Shirahama beach

Shirahama beach
Shirahama beach

Shirahama means “white beach” so it comes as no surprise to find the crescent-shape beach, which extends 640 meters along Kanayama Bay, is made up of pale quartz sand. What is surprising is that since 1989 the sand has been imported from Australia. The beach is lined with palm trees and the water is remarkably clear, giving it the feel of a tropical beach during the hot summer months. It’s an ideal place for swimming and body surfing, or simply relaxing in the soft sand.

Engetsu island

Engetsu island
Engetsu island

Engetsu is a small island located off the coast of Shirahama. Although its official name is Takashima, the round hole in the middle of the island is said to resemble the full moon, hence its moniker “Engetsu.” The island is a popular place through which to view the sunset and ranks among Japan’s top 100 sunset-viewing spots. Due to erosion in recent years, Engetsu is now off-limits to visitors. However, it can be enjoyed from one of the many tourist boats that make regular trips around the island. The boats are fitted with glass bottoms through which an array of fish and coral can be seen through the clear ocean water. A trip around Engetsu costs 1,500 yen for adults and 750 yen for children.

Senjojiki

Senjojiki
Senjojiki

Senjojiki is a tiered formation of soft, horizontal rocks dating from the Tertiary period and formed by the constant erosion of the ocean’s waves. The name literally means “one thousand tatami mats” as the flat rocks resemble traditional mats that visitors can walk out onto and explore. It is possible to get close to the water’s edge and observe the waves crashing against the rocks. Senjojiki is well worth a visit as it is only 20 minutes by bus from JR Shirahama Station, and there is no entrance fee and no opening hours. From Shirahama beach, it’s a 15-minutes walk.

Sandanbeki Cliffs and Caves

Sandanbeki Cliffs and Caves
Sandanbeki Cliffs and Caves

On the south shore of Senjojiki is a two-kilometer stretch of cliffs towering 50 meters over the sea. The name, Sandanbeki, derives from their historical use as a lookout point for fishermen. Hidden below one of the cliffs is a network of caves that was used as a hideout by pirates in the 8th century but today can be accessed by an elevator that descends 36m through the cliffs.

Sandanbeki Cliffs and Caves

Below is a labyrinth of passageways that feature a naval guardhouse, armor, weaponry, a model of a pirate ship and an impressive shrine to Benzaiten, one of Japan's seven lucky gods. The most popular attraction is the Shiofuki Rock, a blowhole through which seawater jets several meters into the air. The caves are open year-round from 8am to 5pm. Entry is 1,300 yen for adults and 650 yen for children.

Facility Name
Nankishirahama Onsen
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
Phone
0739435511
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Saki-no-yu Hot Spring
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou 1668
Phone
0739423016
Hours
[4/1-6/30/9/1-9/30] 8:00-18:00
[7/1-8/31] 7:00-19:00
[10/1-3/31] 8:00-17:00 (Last entry is 30 minutes closing Hours)
Closed
open everyday
Fees
[Bathing charge] 3 years old and over 420 yen
Parking Lot
Available(15spaces)
Credit Card
Not available
Introduction
Together with Arima Onsen and Dogo Onsen, Shirahama Onsen is considered one of the best hot spring areas in Japan, and this particularly hot spring bathing facility boasts 1,350 years of history. Saki-noyu Hot Spring even appears in the Nihon Shoki and the Man’yoshu, Japan’s two oldest collections of poetry. It is recorded that the hot spring was frequented by emperors and the nobility. The open-air bath has been considered one of the seven great hot spring baths in the area since ancient times. Located so close to the sea you can get sprayed by the crashing waves, bathers can enjoy the hot waters while gazing out over the majestic Pacific Ocean.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Shirarahama Beach
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
Introduction
A beautiful swimming beach considered one of the best of the Kinki region whose white sands stretch for 640 meters. Generally opened to the public around May 3 each year, the earliest on the main island of Honshu, the beach is popular for its equatorial beach resort-like atmosphere. In addition, Shirasuna, a large, pool-like mixed sex open-air bath (bathing suit required) is open year-round and can be used as a foot bath in winter.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Engetsu Island (Takashima)
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
Introduction
Engetsu Island, officially named “Takashima” and locally seen as a symbol of Shirahama, is a small island floating off Rinkaiura Beach. The island is 130 meters long north to south, 35 meters east to west, and is 25 meters tall at its highest point. The island has come to be known as Engetsu, meaning “full moon,” due to the round, full moon-like hole in the center of the island which has formed due to marine erosion. Also a well-known the beauty of its sunset, the island as been selected as having one of the 100 best sunsets in Wakayama Prefecture. Sunset occurs around 6:30 pm in summer and 4:30 pm in winter. During the spring and autumn equinox, visitors can enjoy the site of the setting sun passing perfectly through the island’s hole.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Senjojiki
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
Introduction
Facing the ocean from the tip of Setozaki Cape, Senjojiki is a vast bedrock formation that looks as though countless tatami mats were spread out along the shore. The formation is composed of soft white sandstone, and the magnificent scenery formed by waves hitting the shore over many years is truly overwhelming. This is also a popular spot to watch the sunset.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Sandanbeki
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
Introduction
Extending out for about two kilometers, Sandanbeki features 50-meter tall large rock walls comprised of columnar joints and is a Place of Scenic Beauty for its precipitous cliffs. On top of the cliffs is a viewing platform which allows visitors to gaze out at the scenery of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Also close to the viewing platform is a cave that, according to legend, is where Kumano pirates (and later Kumano navy members) hid their boats during the Genji and Heike battle. Inside the cave is Japan’s largest bronze statue of the goddess Benzaiten, and it is possible to ride an elevator down into the cave from the top of the cliffs.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Sandan Kabedokutu
Address
Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou 2927-52
Phone
0739424495
Hours
8:00-17:00(Last entry16:50)
Closed
open everyday
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Nankishirahama Onsen

    Onsen (Japanese hot springs&baths)
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
  • Shirarahama Beach image

    Shirarahama Beach

    Beach
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
  • Senjojiki image

    Senjojiki

    Cape
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
  • Sandanbeki  image

    Sandanbeki

    Cape
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
  • Saki-no-yu Hot Spring image

    Saki-no-yu Hot Spring

    Onsen (Japanese hot springs&baths)
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou 1668
  • Engetsu Island (Takashima) image

    Engetsu Island (Takashima)

    Island
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou
  • Sandan Kabedokutu image

    Sandan Kabedokutu

    Cave
    Wakayama Pref. Nishimurogunshirahamachou 2927-52
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