Monday, July 24, 2017

Kumano Kodo Day 4 : An evening in Katsuura and Minshuku Wakatake

Its proximity to Nachi Taisha, the third Kumano Grand Shrine and the last we had yet to visit,
was the reason for spending our last night at Katsuura -- a coastal town facing the Pacific Ocean.
I couldn't believe we were on our last night -- tomorrow morning after the visit to the shrine,
our Kumano Kodo pilgrimage would be finished. 

We were booked at Minshuku Wakatake, just a few steps away from the Kii Katsuura station.  This plain white building houses about 15 rooms on the second and third floors.   Happily, it also has hot spring or onsen baths as Katsuura is also known as one of the onsen towns in Wakayama Prefecture.

Don't worry if there's no one in the reception area, just ring the bell and one of the owners will pop out from the kitchen.  

The minshuku is run by a young husband and wife team, assisted by a few waitstaff in the dining area.  This cute signboard is proudly displayed on the reception desk. 
I learned the husband is the chef and plans all the meals served to the guests.  

I liked the homespun appeal of Minshuku Wakatake.  Our tatami room had a small section that included a sink and a window which looked out onto the railway station.   Rooms do not include ensuite toilets but there are a couple on each floor.  And of course, baths are taken in the onsen area.

It was still bright outside so we set out to discover what we could of the town.  
A large map  gave us some information  -- aside from its significance 
to the Kumano Kodo, Katsuura is also a major fishing port, a town rich with hot springs, a jump 
off point to several scenic islands and with a train station that links the town to the big cities of Osaka and Nagoya.

Hot springs are abundant in Katsuura and a foot onsen just in front of the station is a nice way to sample the town's mineral rich waters.   The water is pleasantly warm though I could stand to have it a bit hotter.

Like most small towns, Katsuura seems to shut down after 5 p.m.   Most of the stores in the covered shopping arcade or shotengai had closed down for the day.

This logo found in the shotengai aptly shows the town's two main offerings -- onsen and fishing. 

While most of the stores were closed, the restaurants and izakayas were just starting to open their doors for the evening crowd. 

The fishing port of Katsuura is Wakayama's version of Tsukiji.  A significant portion of the tuna caught in Japanese waters finds its way to this port where it is sold by auction, much like its counterpart in Tokyo.

There are a number of large onsen hotels in Katsuura,  easily seen from the boardwalk.  Small ferry boats by the pier bring guests to and from these resort hotels.

We made it back to the hotel in time for dinner which was served in a large tatami dining area.  
Behind Jay, you can see a group of elderly Japanese men who had already sampled the pleasures of the minshuku's onsen and were comfortably attired in their yukatas.  

That short walk around the town made for thirsty work -- good thing that beer was available for dinner. Instead of taking the usual draft beer from the major brewers, I decided to try a bottle of the  local craft beer.    
The label shows the 3-legged crow, the symbol of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.  
The beer was a golden amber ale, rich and fruity and with a strong white foamy head.  Very nice and  easy on the palate.  

We had all ordered the Seafood Course and were pleasantly surprised to see that sukiyaki was part of the set.  This certainly made the carnivores quite happy.  In addition, there was a tasty miso glazed savoury eggplant side dish, tuna sashimi and a small dish of pickled tuna.  

The main course was tuna collar -- deep fried instead of grilled as I normally have it.   
It was well seasoned,  juicy and not at all oily.

The next morning Jay and I woke up before 6 a.m. to try and see if there was some action happening at the much vaunted fish port.  Unfortunately since it was Sunday, the whole place was closed, no seafood market, no small kiosks selling fresh-from-the-sea tekkadon ... nothing.  We had to leave 
with sad hearts and even sadder stomachs. 

We did discover more free foot onsen right across the fish port.  I can imagine this must be a busy place when the port and market are open.

We did not stay hungry for long.  We came back to the minshuku to find that breakfast had been served.    It was very traditional Japanese breakfast, complete with my personal favourite ... sticky, gooey natto.  These fermented soybeans may be an acquired taste for some but it is a delicacy for me.

Fortified with the goodness of natto beans, the Amigos were ready for the last hike of our Kumano Kodo pilgrimage!



  1. Lovely photos, someday I hope to visit Japan too. <3

  2. Thank you for dropping by again :-) hope you are well! I have yet to visit Iloilo but hopefully that will be soon hahaha! Cheers! I am sure that you'll enjoy Japan very much!