Kii Peninsula Voted Best in Travel 2018
Japan’s Kii Peninsula in central Wakayama prefecture has been voted no.5 in the ten Top Regions to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018!The Top Regions category pinpoints ten up-and-coming regions working their way up Lonely Planet’s must-visit travel bucket list. This year’s list was headed by Northern Ireland’s Belfast and the Causeway Coast, with Alaska (USA), the Julian Alps (Slovenia), the Languedoc-Roussillon region (France), and Japan’s Kii Peninsula following closely behind. Together with India, the Kii Peninsula is the only Asian destination to feature on this year’s list.
With Japan’s status as a “red-hot” travel destination - the number of visitors has doubled over the past three years, and is only expected to rise - Lonely Planet suggests the Kii Peninsula as an ideal place for visitors looking to “dig a little deeper” into the thrilling country of Japan.
Dipping down into the Pacific Ocean south of major tourist honeypots Kyoto and Osaka, the Kii Peninsula offers prime examples of many of Japan’s most lauded attractions. There are Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, sublime natural scenery and steaming hot springs, traditional culture and modern convenience, but all without the crowds you are likely to find in nearby big cities - so far, that is!
Top Places To Visit in the Kii Peninsula
Hike the Kumano Kodo - Sacred Pilgrimage Trail
The Kumano Kodo, a network of ages-old walking trails, has been used by pilgrims and visitors to the peninsula for over a millennium. It is one of only two pilgrimage routes in the world that has been decreed a UNESCO World Heritage site, in 2004. Explore the trails’ atmospheric moss-covered, tree-lined paths under your own steam, or join a guided tour by one an expert tour company such as Walk Japan or Oku Japan.
Nearest station: Shingu station
Kumano Sanzan - Sacred Shrines and Waterfall
Nearest station: Shingu station
Shirahama - Beaches and Onsen
Offering the unusual but heavenly combination of sandy beaches and bubbling hot springs, onsen-cum-beach-resort Shirahama has everything you need to kick back and relax. Shirahama means “white sand” in Japanese, and as the name suggests, the area is home to 500-metre long white sand beach. Many of the resort's hotels will see you bunking down just a few steps from the water’s edge. Shirahama is also one of Japan’s three oldest onsen, with six bathhouses open to day guests. Head to coastal Sakinoyu or Shirasuna on the sandy beach for outdoor views while you bathe.
Nearest station: Shirahama station
Mount Koya - Temple Lodgings
Nearest station: Gokurabashi station
Ise Jingu - Japan’s Most Sacred Shrine
Nearest station: Isuzugawa station
Yoshino - Cherry Blossoms
Yoshino is one of Japan’s most famous and spectacular cherry blossom spots. The slopes of Mt. Yoshino are covered by over 30,000 cherry blossom trees which burst into bloom every year in spring, lending the mountains the appearance of being wrapped in vibrant candy floss. Visitors can admire the breath-taking sight as they walk the many trails crisscrossing the mountain’s hills and slopes, while those who don’t fancy the climb can hop on the Yoshino Ropeway.
Alternatively, find out more about hiking the Kumano Kodo here: www.lonelyplanet.com/hiking-the-kumano-kodo/