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Wakayama is a Japanese prefecture, located on the Kii Peninsula in south central Honshu at the southern end of the Kinki region of Japan. Mountainous, with stunning coastlines, Wakayama is best known for the great Mount Koya monastery, home of Shingon Buddhism, the Nachi no Taki Waterfall, and the "Three Kumano Mountains" Shinto shrines. Fully three forths of Wakayama is covered by forest.

Wakayama Precture has seven cities: Arida, Gobo, Hashimoto, Kainan, Shingu, Tanabe, and the eponymous prefectural capital of Wakayama. Because it is so rugged and inaccessible, Wakayama is one of the least populated prefectures in Japan. Wakayama ranks 39th among prefectures in total population and boasted a paltry 1,069,912 people in 1999, roughly 40 percent of whom lived in Wakayama City.

Wakayama's prefectural flower is the plum blossom (prunus mume), its prefectural tree is the ubame oak (quercus phillyraeoides), and its prefectural bird is the Japanese white-eye (zosterops japonica).

Things to see in Wakayama

Dojoji is a temple, dating to 701, associated with the tale of "Anchin and Kiyohime," about a travelling priest named Anchin who betrays princess Kiyohime's love and runs away and hides under a large bell, only to have Kiyohime become so angry that she turns into a huge snake, and burns Anchin, bell and all.

Dorokyo is a spectacular gorge, cut by the Kumano River, that can be traveled through by boat.

Hashikuiiwa is a picturesque chain of 30 rocks stretching out to see like a marching army to connect the resort town of Kushimoto with the small island of Oshima.

Kumano sanzan are three Shinto shrines in the southern Kii Mountains which have been designated as national treasures.

Mount Koya monastery, the home of one of Japan's most important Buddhist sects, Shingon, was founded by the monk Kukai (postumous name: Kobo Daishi) in 816, and is now visited by over 1 million pilgrims every year.

Nachi no Taki is Japan's highest waterfall. Nearby Nachi Shrine was supposedly founded in the 6th century.

Shio no misaki a headland at the southernmost tip of the Kii Peninsula, is marked by a white lighthouse that was built in 1873.

The Taiji Whaling Museum in the small whaling town of Taiji is an insightful view into the world of whaling.

Shirahama Onsen is one of the most famous hot springs in Japan.

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