Nanki, a generic name for the southwestern part of Wakayama, has an array of various amusement parks, zoos, beaches and places where you can enjoy water sports. Approximately two and a half hours away from Osaka by limited express train, Shirahama is a great place for a weekend trip not to be missed.
Shirahama is known as one of Japan's biggest onsen or hot spring resorts and lives up to its name for its beautiful white sand beaches. A popular spot in summer, the resorts are usually booked months in advance. An annual event in the last week of May, modeled after the Snow Festival in Hokkaido, the Suna (sand) Festival features a competition of spectacular three-dimensional artworks made from just sand and seawater. 40 to 60 pieces of sculptures are usually displayed on the beach. It is always a spectacle to behold and participate in.
Away from the crowded main streets, located in southwestern Shirahama, Senjojiki is an interesting tiered formation of huge horizontal rocks created by the constant erosion of the powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean over the years. The waves are extremely strong, and they continue to reshape the rocks year after year. It remains a natural marvel left untouched by human development.
The name Senjojiki literally means one thousand tatami mats and it looks like several thousand tatami mats joined together. Most of the rocks are generally flat, and you can walk out onto them to explore. It is possible to get close to the edges of the cliffs, to feel the breeze of the ocean, and to see small little sea creatures in the shallow holes of the rocks. Standing atop the plateau near the ocean, one can enjoy the thrill of watching surging waves crashing against the rocks. The strong wind is definitely a great welcome, especially in the hot summer sun.
Although not a well promoted tourist attraction, it is still very much worth a visit. Only twenty minutes by bus from Shirahama train station or a fifteen minute walk from the popular Shirahama beach, you don't have to pay an entrance fee or worry about the opening hours at Senjojiki.