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Top left: Nanki Shirahama Spa, Top right: Shirahama Beach, 2nd left: Three-stage Wall (Sandanheki), 2nd right: Engetsu Island (Engetsuto), 3rd: Shirahama Adventure World, Bottom left: Tsubaki Spa, Bottom right: Minakata Kumagusu Memorial Museum
Location of Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture
|• Mayor||Yuzo Mizumoto (since March 2010)|
|• Total||201.04 km2 (77.62 sq mi)|
|Population (January 31, 2012)|
|• Density||116.02/km2 (300.5/sq mi)|
|• Tree||Cherry blossom|
|• Flower||Crinum asiaticum|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|City hall address||1600 Shirahama-chō, Wakayama-ken
Shirahama is a resort town on the south coast of Wakayama Prefecture. Its beaches are white sand, imported from Australia. Shirahama is known for its hot springs. During the summer (July and August), there are fireworks every night on the beach.
Shirahama Station is about two and a half hours from Osaka by JR West's Ocean Arrow train service. There are daily flights from Nanki-Shirahama Airport to Tokyo's Tokyo International Airport (Haneda).
Located in southeastern Wakayama Prefecture, the town has a temperate climate. Many hot springs can be found here, most notably Nanki-Shirahama Onsen and Tsubaki Onsen. Two public baths in the town are part of a World Heritage site.
Shirahama is one of the very few municipalities in Japan that do not have "azas", or towns and villages that were previously in the boundaries of the present-day town.
One of Shirahama’s main attractions is its crescent-shaped white-sand beach; “Shirahama” means “white beach” or “white bay”. In the 1960s, when Shirahama was connected by rail to Osaka, the city became a popular tourist destination, particularly with honeymooners, and blocky white hotel towers were erected along the coastal road. The increased development accelerated erosion, and the famous sand began to wash into the sea. Worried that the town of White Beach would lose its white beach, according to a city official, Wakayama Prefecture began in 1989 to import sand from Perth, Australia, 4,700 miles away. 745,000 cubic meters was imported over 15 years.
Places of interest
- Adventure World (Japan), a mega theme park with a safari park, aquarium and amusement park combined in one facility. (ja:アドベンチャーワールド)
- Kumano Kodo: an ancient pilgrimage route across the Kii Peninsula linking several large shrines.
- Sandanbeki (三段壁): Cliffs along on the ocean edge that are 50 meters high. It is said that pirates (kumano suigun) used to inhabit the caverns; the remains of their dwellings can be seen.
- Senjō-jiki (千畳敷): A rocky point near Shirahama beach.
- The Minakata Kumagusu Museum houses much of scientist Minakata Kumagusu's books, specimens, and memorabilia.
- Engetsu-tō: A natural arch just off the coast
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