This walking course has many delightful attractions including Goko-dori, Shirahama's main street; Kumano Sansho Shrine, home to Hisamezuka Kofun (Tumulus), one of the few ancient burial mounds of its type in southern Wakayama; and Shirara-yu and Shirasuna, open-air hot spring baths on Shirarahama Beach.
Kumano Sansho Shrine, surrounded by forest 森に囲まれた熊野三所神社
Going from Hongakuji Temple toward Shirarahama Beach, you will pass a torii gate on your right, which is the entrance to Kumano Sansho Shrine. It is on the western edge of Shirarahama, but in contrast to the white sandy beach, the shrine is nestled in a hushed forest. This sacred forest is designated by the prefecture as a Natural Monument. Along the shrine approach is the late 6th-century Hisamezuka Kofun (Tumulus), a round tomb eight meters in diameter and two meters high with a horizontal stone chamber, of a type that is very rare in this region. On the grounds of the shrine are a stone tablet inscribed with a haiku by Okamoto Saburo, born in Seto, Shirahama-cho, Seto, and a stone monument commemorating a 7th-century Imperial visit by the Empress Saimei. Gongenzaki Cape, where Kumano Sansho Shrine is situated, has a seaside path for walking, and if you have time you can stroll around the cape in about 20 minutes.
SHIRARAHAMA BEACH 白良浜
Shirarahama Beach is located in Kanayama Bay. This beach extends some 640 meters along the shallow waters of the bay. Consisting of 90 percent quartz, the sand is, as the name "Shirarahama" suggests,pure white. During the summer the beach is lined with palm trees. This gives the beach the atmosphere of a tropical resort. Shirarahama beach and Hawaii's Waikiki beach have been sister beaches since 2000.
An onsen (hot spring bath-house) of the old-fashioned, down-to-earth type, with a stand at the entrance manned by a staff member. In summer it is always busy with people who come to swim at the beach, and the walls constantly echo with laughter. While luxuriating in a hot bath, you can look out the window at the brilliantly white sand of Shirarahama Beach and the blue of sea and sky.
When you arrive at Shirarahama Beach, first of all you notice this enormous bath like a swimming pool. This is a mixed-gender open-air bath where people bathe wearing swimsuits, and accommodates up to 100 people. There is also a bench for you to sit on and soak your feet in hot water, a popular place to take a relaxing break even in winter.
Stone tablet inscribed with haiku 句碑
The scenery at Shirarahama was as beautiful long ago as it is today, and many haiku composed by poets of the past such as Sanzendo Kiccho, Nakamura Kenkichi, Honda Keikabo, Matsuo Kaitei, and Arima no Miko (Prince Arima) are inscribed on stone tablets in the vicinity.