KumanoMie Prefecture in Japan.
Once a year this little town becomes a madhouse when it hosts the Kumano Hanabi Taikai fireworks festival, one of Japan's biggest fireworks displays, taking on much more people than the town was ever meant to handle.
ShishiiwaKumano's famous lion rock formation. There is a cafe on one side which is in the perfect spot for viewing.
Hana no IwayaAn ancient Shinto shrine.
OnigajoThe demon castle is a stunning rock cave formation against a backdrop of ocean and mountains which you can walk right through.
Maruyama SenmaidaThis is a rice field built into a hill where no machines can reach. It must be planted by hand every year and many of the town's residents show up to pitch in.
Hike the KodoKumano is home to several sections of the ancient pilgrimage route, the Kumano Kodo. Matsumoto Toge and Kannon Michi are great places to hike. This website's Kumano Kodo English guide is invaluable as there aren't many signs in English.
Go to the beachKumano has two beautiful beaches that you'd swear are private groves in a tropical land. Odomari beach is only one station north of Kumano, head straight down the hill from the station. Atashika beach by Atashika station is a bit more remote, but larger than Odomari. Both overlook mountains and small villages in the distance. Swimming season usually lasts from June until the end of August. Changing rooms and concessions are available in season, but no life guards so watch out on a day when the sea is particularly rough.
Hanabi TaikaiKumano's biggest festival, and actually one of the biggest fireworks festivals in Japan, occurs on August 17th of every year. People come from all over Japan, clogging the trains and highways, camping out on the beach and in the Aeon department store, just for this day. Fireworks will shake the ground, take up the entire horizon, and last for hours and hours. Takes place on Kumano's endless coastline at about 7pm, but don't expect any space on the beach for a big group unless you come early, as the town's residents began to stake out their own spaces by tying down tarps on the beach days before. Prime space can be reserved online, but it's easy to see from anywhere on the beach. If you will be coming by train, it is recommended you reserve limited express tickets two weeks in advance.
Doro KyoDoro Kyo is a natural gorge that you can hire a boat ride through.
Kiwa TownAlthough it is now a part of Kumano, it still kind of feels like its own town. It's a charming place - about 40 minutes from Kumano proper, there are no train lines at all, and when it was independent it had fewer than 2,000 residents. It also used to be known for its a mining industry which you can learn about at the mining information center/museum off route 311 in the center of town. Not far from there you can find Seiryuso and Yunokuchi, two awesome onsens quite close to each other. In fact, they are connected by a tiny mining rail car line with only two stops! The shaky little train is a great attraction. As for the actual onsens, Seiryuso is part of a hotel and Yunokuchi has natural water pumped in from deep under the mountains.
phone: +81 597-86-1024A unique cafe near Hadasu station overlooking the ocean and mountain scenery. Also a home to a collection of old instruments and the owners would be happy to give you an impromptu concert.
phone: +81 597-89-2102Cafe Rosen is a bit more than just a cafe — it has a beautiful wood interior and a full dinner menu of familiar western-style food.
Shinbashiphone: +81 597-89-1754address: 386-7 IdochoA local favorite is a bar called Shinbashi, which is located near the police station and not far from the Aeon shopping center. They offer chuhai drinks in every flavor from banana to ramune.
phone: +81 597-89-0800
phone: +81 597-88-2045Kumano Club is Kumano's one resort club, with excellent dining and hot spring baths.
Except for a few drunken business or older men who may wander out at night, Kumano is more or less a safe city. The kind of place where if you accidentally drop your wallet, a few seconds later a nice old women will be chasing after you with them so grateful for the chance to give it back!
- Mihama - Mihama town, 15 minutes to the south, is known as the town where you can pick mikan oranges all year round; this is true, as the seasons of the different mikans which grown in this town just barely cover the entire year. Get off at Atawa station and head to the Pine shopping center for a stand with fresh mikan oranges, juice, and a souvenir shop inside. Or just drive the backroads and marvel at all the orange trees.
- Shingu, about 40 minutes to the south, the first city you'll come to in Wakayama and home of one of the Kumano Taisha Shrines. There are also some castle ruins not far from the station, just pas the Okuwa grocery store.
- Owase, about 30-40 minutes north