Next, you’ll leave Kuroshima Island and Taijima Island to drive toward Taiji Town, which is considered to be the birthplace of traditional whaling and where people still hunt small whales along the coast. Many restaurants in the town serve whale-based cuisine that has been passed down through the generations as part of a dietary culture that is distinct to Kumano—and indeed, Japan. First, you’ll enjoy lunch at Isana-no-yado Hakugei.
After lunch, you’ll tour the Taiji Whale Museum, and then you’ll head for Tomyo-zaki Point, which served as a highland lookout from which the traditional whale hunt was directed. From these cliffs, which afford panoramic views of the Kumano Sea, people long ago searched for whales.
When they found them, they signaled groups of ships in the waters off Taiji by lighting fires and other means. This “command center” was the most important facility in whaling, and only the individuals in the whaling clan with the most power and authority could direct the hunt.
Tomyo-zaki Point (left photo)
The whale lookout was restored based on a picture scroll depicting traditional whaling. (right photo)
Today, Tomyo-zaki Point is home to a restoration of an old-fashioned lighthouse known as Tomyodai as well as a restored whale lookout. The Lighthouse Site and Lookout Site along with the Lookout Rest House Site and Smoke Signal Site are cultural properties that are part of this Japan Heritage story. Once you’ve envisioned how traditional whaling was carried out at this scenic spot, you’ll head toward Katsuura Onsen, where you’ll soak in the famous springs to wash away the fatigue of the day.
Boki-do Cave at Hotel Urashima
Nanki Kumano Geopark has been recognized by the Japan Geopark Committee, which certifies regions with valuable topographical or geographical features as geological parks, or geoparks. The park, which encompasses nine village, towns, and cities in the southern part of Wakayama Prefecture (the city of Shingu; the towns of Shirahama, Kamitonda, Susami, Nachikatsuura, Taiji, Kozagawa, and Kushimoto; and the village of Kitayama), consists of 107 geosites (as of November 2016) such as pile-shaped rocks that exhibit three different types of geological structures.