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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Kumano
Shirahama
# 3   of 8 most visited
sights in Kumano

jump to:   access  -  hotels  -  ratings  -  links

Shirahama's white beach surrounded by massive hotels

Shirahama is a well developed onsen (hot spring) resort 100 kilometers south of Osaka. Its popularity as an entertainment destination and its proximity to Osaka caused Shirahama to become one of Japan's three biggest onsen resorts, along with Beppu on Kyushu and Atami on the Izu Peninsula.

The name Shirahama is Japanese for "white beach", and refers to the resort's other major attraction, a 500 meter long sand beach. Many large hotels are situated around the beach so that visitors will be just a few steps from the water. Nightly fireworks are held during summer.

The appearance of beach culture and amusement parks may be a relatively recent phenomenon, but Shirahama's status as a travel destination is not. First mention of the town's hot springs was recorded over a thousand years ago. Shirahama is even ranked with Kobe's Arima Onsen and Matsuyama's Dogo Onsen as one of Japan's three oldest onsen.

Six bath houses with hot spring baths are open to the public, most of which have only indoor facilities. However, two outdoor baths, the coastal Sakinoyu and the Shirasuna on the sand beach, are of particular interest to visitors.

Hot Springs

Shirasuna
Hours: 10:00 to 15:00 (until 19:00 from July 1 to September 15)
Closed: Mondays
Admission: 100 yen (free from October to April)
This beach-side onsen has a large bath that can accommodate about 100 people. Because the bath is in plain view to pedestrians, bathing suits must be worn, contrary to regular onsen etiquette.
Sakinoyu
Hours: 8:00 to 17:00 (Jul-Aug 7:00 to 19:00; Mar-Jun, Sep until 18:00)
Closed: Wednesdays
Admission: 420 yen
Sakinoyu is an outdoor bath that is located right along the seashore, and it affords a view out across the water. It dates back over a thousand years and is mentioned in some of Japan's most ancient texts.

Rock Formations

Sandanbeki
Hours: 8:00 to 17:00
Admission to caves: 1300 yen
Sandanbeki consists of three steep cliffs with a large network of caves at water level. An elevator is taken down to the caves, which has a shrine inside and a network of tunnels.
Senjojiki
Senjojiki is Japanese for "One Thousand Tatami Mats", which describes the appearance of these flat, sheet-like rocks. The Senjojiki are located along the coast, and visitors can walk out onto them.
Engetsu Island
This uniquely shaped rock formation is situated off the western coast of the city. In the evenings of some days of the year, the setting sun can be seen through the hole in the middle of the rock.

Museums

Minakata Kumagusu Museum
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (admission until 16:30)
Closed: Thursdays (except Jul 20 to Aug 30), Jun 28-30, Dec 29-Jan 3
Admission: 400 yen
This museum hosts information and displays on Minakata Kumagusu, a renowned writer and scientist from Wakayama Prefecture. He was a naturalist and folklorist who devoted his life to the pursuit of knowledge.
Kishu Museum
Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Closed: Wednesdays and Thursdays
Admission: 700 yen
On display at this small museum are a series of prints as well as examples of personal artifacts of pre-modern Japan. The Kishu Museum takes its name from the old name for Wakayama Prefecture.
Onsen Shiryokan
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
This museum focuses on Japanese hot springs, with many videos and sculptures put on display to explain the science and history of onsen. Unfortunately, most of it is difficult to understand without knowledge of Japanese.

Amusement Parks

Energy Land
Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (admission until 16:00)
Closed: Tuesdays (except public holidays)
Admission: 1800 yen
An amusement park that offers interactive op art and a few computer generated movie rides. Somewhat out of date but enjoyable nonetheless, particularly for kids.
Adventure World
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (until 21:00 in August)
Closed: The 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month; every Wednesday from December to February
Admission: 4100 yen
A large amusement park with a Ferris wheel and roller coasters as well as animal parks. A particular rarity, the amusement park has panda bears in one their zoo sections.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Shirahama is a major station on the JR Kisei Line, connected to Osaka by hourly limited express trains. The town is also the site of Nanki-Shirahama Airport with direct flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

Shirahama Station is located a ten minute, 330 yen bus ride outside the town center. Several buses per hour connect the station with Shirahama Bus Center next to the beach in central Shirahama. There are also buses from Shirahama Station to Adventure World (15 minutes, 300 yen) and to Sandanbeki (20 minutes, 460 yen).

From Nanki-Shirahama Airport, you can reach central Shirahama and JR Shirahama Station in about 15 minutes by bus.

How to get to and around Kumano

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Hotels and Ryokan

User Ratings
Ratings for Shirahama:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  interesting  
User Rating (by 40 users):
71/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 776):
688.  Furano Winery (Furano)   71/100
689.  Detached Palace (Hakone)   71/100
690.  Ikaho Town (Ikaho Onsen)   71/100
691.  Nakamachi (Matsumoto)   71/100
692.  Hagi Castle (Hagi)   71/100
693.  Shirahama (Kumano)   71/100
694.  Ago Bay (Ise Shima)   70/100
695.  Oyakuen Garden (Aizu)   70/100
696.  Ishibutai Tomb (Asuka)   70/100
697.  Godaido (Matsushima)   70/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 907):
510.  Utoro (Shiretoko)   82
511.  Tobu World Square (Kinugawa Onsen)   82
512.  Shiroyama Park (Kagoshima)   82
513.  Lake Tazawa (Hachimantai)   81
514.  Jomonsugi (Yakushima)   81
515.  Shirahama (Kumano)   80
516.  Pola Museum (Hakone)   80
517.  Takachiho Shrine (Takachiho)   79
518.  Chichu Museum (Naoshima)   79
519.  Jomon Site (Aomori)   79

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We strive to keep japan-guide.com up-to-date and accurate, and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. If you have any updates, suggestions, corrections or opinions, please let us know:

English Links
Shirahama Town
Official English website.
Shirahama Onsen
Official English website of the local ryokan association.
Minakata Kumagusu Museum
Official English website.
Energy Land
Official English pamphlet (pdf).
Adventure World
Official English website.

Japanese Links
Shirahama Town
Official website.
Minakata Kumagusu Museum
Official website.
Kishu Museum
Official website.
Energy Land
Official website.
Adventure World
Official website.
Sandanbeki Dokutsu Cave
Official website.

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