Rio's Info on Wakayama City


New Year’s Visit to Shrines or Temples

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Late morning on January 1, 2023, my wife and I paid the first visit of the year to a nearby Shinto shrine called Nichizen-gu Shrine. We prayed for happiness and safety in the new year. Nichizen-gu is one of the high-ranking Shinto shrines in Wakayama. It is within walking distance of my place.

This custom to visit to pray happiness at shrines or temples in the New Year is called “Hatsu-mode” in Japanese. It is like a New Year ceremony for many Japanese including my wife and me. In our case, we visit Nichinen-gu Shrine, Idakisodo Shrine and Kokawa Buddhist Temple every year.

As I expected, a lot of people were already in Nichizen-gu when we went there, though even the high-ranking shrine usually have only a limited number of visitors except the new year.

I hear that there were much more people at the very beginning of the new year around 1 o'clock in the shrine.

Ebisu Festival at Higashi-no-miya Shrine

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The festival is celebrated on the 9th, 10th and 11th in January every year. A lot of people praying for good business comes to the shrine and purchase bringers of good luck. Kagura dance is performed to please the deity.

Hina-nagashi Festival at Awashima Shrine in 2023


On March 3, 2023, I went to Awashima Shrine in Kada Area to see Hinanagashi Festival.

The "hinamatsuri festival" is also called the Doll Festival. It is held on March 3rd. At the festival, families with girl children display dolls called hina and eat eat sweetmeats, and drink shirozake (white sake made from sake and rice malt).

"Hina" means the doll and "nagashi" means leaving something being washed away. Hinanagashi Festvial at Awashima Shrine is very popular. A lot of women come to see off hina dolls on wooden small boats at the nearby shore, saying farewells to the guardians of girls.


If this year had been an ordinary year, women would have carried the boats on their shoulders to the shore. Due to Covid-19, the dolls and the boats were carried by car in 2023. I hope women will be allowed to carry the dolls and the boats by themselves next year.


Cherry Trees in Full Blossom

Cherry blossoms are definitely one of the most popular flowers among Japanese people. In Japanese poetry after the 10th century (the Heian period), only a single Japanese word "hana" meaning "fowers or blossoms" has always referred to "cherry blossoms." It is also true in everyday conversation even now. For example, when someone says, "Let’s go viewing hana (flowers) in the park," the person intends to say, “Let’s enjoy the cherry blossoms in the park."

Cherry trees can be divided into two groups. One is a group of natural species and the other is that of garden species. Most of cherry trees we see in parks and other artificial places today are those of one garden species named "Somei-yoshino." The type was put on the market in the 19th century (in the late Edo period) for the first time. After that, it became so popular, and Japanese people have kept on planting the trees here and there. As a lot of cherry trees of the one variety have been planted in Japan, we can enjoy cherry blossoms blooming all together in early spring.

The cherry blossoms in Wakayama City are usually at their best late March and we can enjoy the pale pink blossoms at various spots.

Here are photos I took at Kimii-dera Buddhist Temple on March 28, 2023.

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Here are photos I took at Wakayama Castle on the same day.

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Each region in the Japanese Islands has its own characteristic foods. Of course, Wakayama has. For example, a type of sushi called "Kakinoha-zushi". "kakinoha" means leaves of perimmon trees. The rice cake is wrapped with the leaves.