The students enrolled in Wakayama Studies, a course offered by the Faculty of Tourism at Wakayama University, got me intrigued. After I was invited to listen to their enthusiastic oral presentations about Wakayama Castle, I knew I had to add the site to my must-visit list before moving on from my work commitment in Wakayama to vacation in Kyoto.
On a baking hot quiet Sunday, with the cicadas shrilling from the trees, I walked 30 minutes from my hotel and suddenly saw the Castle peering down at me from its strategic perch above the city. It’s had a turbulent history dating back to feudal battles of the 16th century and 17th centuries, and was completely destroyed by the Allies in WW II. Wakayama residents applied to have it rebuilt in 1958 using its original design.
The day of my visit, I appeared to be one of the few non-Japanese visitors, and there weren’t even very many of them on site, making the visit a peaceful one.
Just past the entrance, a not-very- imposing Ninja was offering training in the arts of star throwing, sword play, and camouflage. I decided to watch a few local experts to get a sense of the technique before having a go myself.
After deciding to stick to my job as an educator, I climbed up the uneven stone steps to explore the Castle itself. It’s not hard to imagine its feudal history even as its views mingle with those of modern-day Wakayama City.
But there’s more to explore here than just the Castle itself. For a post-visit cool down, there’s a pleasantly shaded garden and pond to enjoy on your way out.