Kumano Kodo Gateway
Tanabe City is the historic and present day gateway to Kumano, a key location for both land and ocean transportation routes. It is a sleepy coastal city with a population of around 65,000, the largest in the south of the Kii Peninsula.
Tanabe Bay is to the west with mountains rising in the east. Across the bay to the south is the Shirahama resort area.
Fishing and agriculture focused on ume and orange production are the major industries. The mountains inland from the coast are covered with terraced orchards.
Kii-Tanabe Station Area
The station area is the center of the older part of the city. Next to the Kii-Tanabe station in the TANABE Tourist Information Center.
Most of the other main sites are the south-west of the station. Busses for the Kumano Kodo leave from bus stop 2 in front of the station.
Travel Support Center
The KUMANO TRAVEL Travel Support Center is dedicated to helping visitors onsite. It is located within short walking distance from the Kii-Tanabe station and is run by bilingual English/Japanese speaking staff. Services include luggage storage, luggage shuttle, accommodation reservations, etc. Outdoor gear and local souvenirs are for sale.
Tokei-jinja Shrine was established in 419 AD and derives from Kumano Hongu Taisha. Many imperial and aristocratic pilgrims paid homage here praying for safe passage into the realm of Kumano.
Because the Kumano deities were manifested in Tokei-jinja Shrine, some pilgrims did not make the voyage into the heart of Kumano, but prayed here, subsequently worshiping the Kumano Sanzan from afar.
The Tokei-jinja festival is held mid-July annually with tradition floats and ceremonies.
The compact entertainment area in front of the JR Kii-Tanabe station is called “Ajikoji” and is packed with over 200 restaurants and Japanese style pubs (izakaya). Every alley is full of quaint places to eat and drink.
Tanabe is a safe place for non-Japanese speakers to fully experience delicious local cuisine in an authentic environment. Kanpai!
Tanabe City is the hometown of Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of the Aikido martial art. For those who practice Aikido a visit to Tanabe is a must-do. There are many sites associated to this legendary teacher including grave site and bronze statue.
Preserving the Rich Green and Sea
Tenjinzaki is a point on the north side of the Tanabe Bay, across the bay from the Shirahama Hot Springs. The green, thick natural seaside forests on the hillside thrive despite the strong coastal winds. The sea directly links with the Pacific Ocean, and when the tide is low, a flat, rocky terrain of some 13 ha is seen along the beach.
The Tanabe Bay is one of the most valuable natural environments in the world for its abundance and variety of sea life. Under the influence of the warm Kuroshio Current, and with many reefs that slow the movement of the currents, the Bay nurtures the growth of many species of larvae born in the southern seas.
The Tanabe Bay opens up to the west. In the wintertime, therefore, the seasonal northwest winds force the Kuroshio Current into the bay, helping to prevent to lowering of the water temperature.
An important point is the outstanding stability of its overall environment. Behind the bay are the seaside forests and their humus soil continues to supply nutrients to the water. The forests also serve to prevent mud and sand from flowing into the water by rain and wind.
The most wonderful and distinctive feature of the nature in Tenjinzaki is the formation of a single, rich ecosystem encompassing forests, shore and sea, in spite of its vicinity to an urban area. Here, plants and animals in the seaside forests and those in the sea, with inter-tidal ones on the reefs, thrive together in their respective territories.
In 1974, when we, citizen volunteers, learned of a plan for an exclusive vacation home development on Tenjinzaki , we petitioned Tanabe city and the Wakayama prefectural governments to use their power to restrain the development.
The natural environment can hardly be restored once it is destroyed. When we realized that the solution through the governments would be difficult, we decided to buy up the land as our last resort and set out on the Tenjinzaki movement.
With our hope to leave this natural environment to future generations, we established the Foundation.
Caring for Tenjinzaki Foundation
The name of our Foundation uses the words “care for” rather than “project”. Our idea is that “project” implies the presence of enemies and there should be no enemies against this movement. We wish everyone to understand our movement , to cooperate and care for the nature in Tenjinzaki. Our Foundation was designated as very first Natural Environment Conservation Corporation in Japan.
Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture
Adapted text from the Guide to National Trusts in Japan.